Homesickness is normal.
It is neither a dislike of camp nor evidence of camper maladjustment. In fact, it is very healthy for the camper to relate back to the home setting with strong emotional feelings as s/he makes the initial adjustment to camp. The newness of the camp environment, making new friends, and the natural longing for the “old and familiar” make moments of homesickness happen for many.
Appropriate pre-camp preparation is the best “medicine” for homesickness.
Assure your child that you will be there on Closing Day and that you are looking forward to seeing all of his/her favorite places at camp. Do not talk about how much you will miss him or her, but rather emphasize how excited you are about the fun s/he will have at Gwynn Valley.
Please do not tell your child you will come pick him/her up if homesick. We find that this does not set your child up to succeed, nor help build the resilience for working through the homesickness. A positive family attitude, discussions of expected camp activities, and gentle encouragement that missing home is “okay” will usually suffice to give your child the tools needed to make the camp transition a valuable growth experience.
Experience has taught us
to expect the symptoms of homesickness to occur over the first few days at camp, often during quiet, reflective times. Body language and facial expressions often give us the clues as to who “needs to talk”. Please let your children know, if they feel homesick, it is normal and that it is important and helpful for them to talk to their counselor or head counselor about it so they can help. Most often with a few conversations (or rather “listenings”), support, and with the security of new friends and activities, the homesickness dissipates.
If you receive a letter relating homesickness,
remember that letter writing often occurs during rest hour and the camper’s thoughts naturally return to you and home during those quiet times. If you have a more dramatic child, the letter may even voice a grief reaction to separation from you. Try to bring your own separation feelings into proper perspective, then sit down and write your child an encouraging response. Ask about camp activities, counselors, campfires, skits, etc., and, above all, set a positive, encouraging tone. Express your confidence in his/her ability to cope and that camp is there to assist. If you are worried, please call the office. The Head Counselor will check on your child and return your call to talk with you and determine the best plan for helping your child to be successful.
“Gwynn Valley offers the most amazing opportunity for kids to be kids, yet learn and grow tremendously at the same time. We will be returning year after year.”