Imagine this scenario… It’s been 5 days since you dropped off Susie at camp. You get a letter from her saying, “I hate it here! There are bugs! I didn’t get the top bunk like I wanted! It’s rained everyday and I miss you! All I want to do is give you a big hug! PLEASE COME GET ME!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!”
It’s the dreaded homesickness letter!
What should you do?!
First of all, take a deep breath and realize that it’s perfectly natural for campers (and staff members!) to experience some degree of homesickness during their stay at camp. Most letters are written during rest hour or before bed, which are times the campers tend to feel the most homesick. While there can be moments when homesickness arises, these are rarely evidence of a true dislike of camp. Typically, these feelings are infrequent throughout the day, and will go away after a day or two. Usually by the time you receive these letters, she will most likely be just fine.
If you do receive a homesick letter, please take a moment to write a very positive and encouraging response. You are welcome to send this as an email for a speedier reply. Let your daughter know that you are confident in her ability to cope with her new adventure and you are proud of her. Validate her feelings. Share a story of a time that you felt the same way! Ask her about camp, her activities, her counselor and friends. And, remember not to tell her you miss her or cannot wait for her to come home.
Here is a sample of a great letter a real parent wrote:
I just spoke with Ms. Sarah from Rockbrook. She said that she promised you that she would call me and tell me everything you told her and how you hoped I would pick you up from camp. Ms. Charlotte did tell me you were homesick and cried because you were missing me. My heart is very sad that you’re feeling this way and I want you to know how much I love you and I will always love you.
Also, you need to know that I totally understand. Although I didn’t go to camp, I did leave my family and friends for an entire year when I backpacked around the world! I missed my mom, dad and friends so much. But I decided I had a choice – I could either swallow my homesickness and make a huge effort to enjoy things, or I could go home and never get to experience what it felt like to conquer my fears and meet new friends, try adventures and see exciting places.
I’m not going to pick you up. You are a strong, independent, fun loving, kind girl. You will get through this and I an SURE within a day or so, you will be loving every second of camp. The best way to overcome feeling homesick is to stay as busy as you can. Try every activity that you can and realize that this is such a fantastic opportunity for you.
Plus, it is HOT and boring right now here. Most of the kids are away and you’d be bored silly if you were here.
I’m also so happy that you’ve been able to try Riflery. Did you enjoy that? Please let me know every fun activity you do and all about your fun friends you’ve met. I promise to write you every day. You will have a whole slew of letters coming! Be strong, have fun and know that I am so very proud of you and love you very much!!!! Now…chin up, big smile and get to your next activity! I will see you on closing day.
I Love you,
Of course, you are welcome to check in with our office if you have any concerns. We will ask your daughter’s counselor to give you call, and one of our directors will be happy to report how she is doing. We strongly discourage a phone conversation with your camper, as this can often make the homesickness worse.
Think of camp as a learning experience. Sending your child to camp offers a wonderful opportunity for both you and your child to practice “letting go.” Learning to let go allows children to develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self, make new friends, develop new social skills, learn about teamwork, be creative and more.
If you think your child may be homesick, please don’t hesitate to contact us in advance. One of our directors will be ready to help.