Badges, Activities, & Beyond, Parents

9 Tips to Prevent Homesick Campers

The sun is shining, the day is warm, and you’re helping your child pack for their big summer adventure. It’s camp time of year again and we’re so excited to welcome hundreds of young ladies to our camps!

While checking off the packing list for camp, don’t forget to have a conversation with your child about homesickness. Why? Because it’s normal to miss home and by talking about it with your child and making a plan, you will help them work through their feelings more quickly and get back to having an awesome time at camp!

Here are a few prevention tips from the American Camp Association that will help your camper deal.

Before Camp:

1. Work together as a family to select a camp, make plans, and pack.

The unknown can be scary, so make sure that your camper is involved in the selection process, knows the details of camp (how long, what the daily schedule looks like, if possible visit the property before camp), and helps pack so she feels entirely prepared. You can even allow her to pack a favorite stuffed animal and/or picture so that she will have a reminder of home while at camp.

2. Role-play anticipated camp situations.

Practice using a flashlight to find the bathroom in the middle of the night or what she’ll do when she finds a spider in her tent (hint: calling a counselor is okay, screaming and running for the office is not). You won’t be able to cover everything, but having a plan for some will help her deal with the unexpected and keep her moving forward!

3. Schedule practice time away from home, such as a long weekend at a friend’s house.

Sleeping in a strange place can be unsettling the first (or second!) time for a child, and not having a parent around can lead to anxiousness once those lights go out. Give her a practice run close to home so she knows she can do it!

4. Experiment with the best coping strategies during this practice separation.

Pack that stuffed animal that she can hug when she’s feeling homesick, encourage her to take a few deep breaths to calm down, and then join the fun again. Talk over what helped and what didn’t when you pick her up so she’ll remember what works for her when she’s at camp.

5. Avoid the pick-up deal!

Never ever say, “If you feel homesick, I’ll come and get you.” This conveys a message of doubt that undermines her confidence and almost guarantees you’ll be picking up your child. Let her know you believe in her ability to work through her feelings (with help from our staff) and make it to the end of camp.

It’s amazing what girls can do when they know someone believes in them!

6. Write letters.

Prepare pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes for her to bring to camp, then give her a letter from home to open her first night at camp.

Who doesn’t love mail? Plus writing letters home will give her a chance to organize her camp experience, and the letters will make great mementos!

During Camp, Encourage Her to:

7. Stay busy!

It’s hard to wallow in homesickness if you’re fully immersed in an activity! Give her a few ideas for downtime that will help keep her mind busy too, like reading her favorite book (and make sure to pack it!).

8. Talk with someone.

Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings goes a long way. Encourage girls to seek out a counselor. They make great resource and chances are this is not their first encounter with a homesick kid this summer!

9. Remember camp is not a life sentence.

A week (even two) will be over in the blink of an eye. Encourage her to remember that she’s not at camp for her whole life-just a few weeks.

Homesickness will always be a part of camp, but with a little planning it is manageable. Plus it’s great practice for life!

After all, everyone leaves home eventually, so what better way to prepare girls to be courageous and independent young women than having an amazing adventure at Girl Scout camp?

Check out our camp options on our website and get your kid to camp this summer!