The Best ways to Prevent Homesickness at Sleepaway Camps

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The American Camping Association (ACA) publishes research in a variety of fields related to youth development that overlap in the summer camp experience. One the guide below of do’s and don’ts is from an article posted on the ACA’s website.

  • DO encourage independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
  • DO involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more that the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.
  • DO understand the camp’s philosophy on how issues, like homesickness, are addressed. Talk candidly with the camp director to understand his/her perspective on your child’s adjustment.
  • DO discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • DO reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child’s camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
  • DO send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say “I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp.”
  • DO pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
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  • DON’T bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child’s new found confidence and independence.
  • DON’T plan an exit strategy. If a “rescue call” comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective.
  • DON’T feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
  • DO trust your instincts. While most incidents of homesickness will pass in a day or two, approximately 7 percent of the cases are severe. If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, parents should work with the camp director and other camp staff to evaluate the situation.
  • DO remember that camp staff are trained to ease homesickness.
  • DON’T make your child feel like a failure if their stay at camp is cut short. Focus on the positive and encourage your child to try camp again next year.

The Berkshire Soccer Academy a member of the ACA and voluntarily participates in their accreditation program as an accredited camp. This ensures that a high caliber of standards in youth development are carried out among accredited members. As coaches and camp professionals this organization is important for many reasons.

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