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Overcoming Homesickness

While a concern for many parents and some campers, homesickness is normal. It means that you have a home worth missing. Learning how to overcome homesickness now will help your child deal with similar feelings in the future, such as during school trips and sleepovers. It’s all part of becoming a healthy and independent person. While our cabin leaders are well-trained in helping children cope with homesickness, and there are also steps you can take now to set your child up for success at camp:

  • Arrange practice time away from home, such as long weekends with friends or relatives.
  • Visit Camp Takodah ahead of time to familiarize your child with the surroundings.
  • Do not promise your child that you will “rescue” them if they don’t like camp.
  • Discuss with your child what camp will be like, including cabin-life, daily schedule, activities, and meals.
  • Coach your child in friend-making skills, such as introducing themselves to others.
  • Be honest that they might feel homesick— it’s normal and their cabin leaders will help them through it.
  • Tell them it’s okay to miss home AND have a great time at camp all at the same time.
  • Avoid sharing your anxiety with your child, such as telling them how much you’ll miss them.
  • Involve them in camp preparation, like shopping for toiletries and packing their bags.
  • Send a positive, reassuring, non-sentimental letter to arrive on the first day of camp.

While your child is busy trying new things, making new friends, and growing up, you’re left at home to worry about their experience and adjust to life without them. Here are some things you can do to deal with child-sickness:

  • Remain calm if you receive a “distress letter.” Campers often send homesick letters in the first or second day, but then start to feel better, probably even before you receive the letter!
  • Remember that you chose Camp Takodah for a reason. Trust the camp staff to take good care of your child and handle homesickness skillfully. We will contact you when appropriate. No news is good news.
  • If you have a bad gut feeling that won’t go away, call the Camp Office. We’ll check on your camper and get back to you about their experience right away.
  • No matter how much you want to talk with your child, remember that phone calls with parents almost always result in feelings of homesickness (even when the camper was doing great).
  • Treat summer camp like a vacation for you. Don’t feel guilty about it—in fact, a little rest and relaxation will help you be a better parent when your child returns home at the end of camp.

Leaving such a wonderful camp community is also hard. People in the “outside world” just don’t understand the magic of camp. You can help with camp-sickness by asking your child open-ended questions about camp. Use conversation starters, like: Tell me about your cabin leaders. Tell me about your best friends at camp. Tell me about the best time you had at camp. Tell me about what you want to do next year at camp.