May I come see or call my camper? We discourage this because camp is an opportunity for the camper to learn to meet new friends and to “break out of their shell”. We will call if your child is ill or if your child is too homesick. In this case, “no news—really is good news!” Our practice is to try to encourage the camper by keeping them involved in all the fun of camp. If they think you are going to come and get them, they will never give it an honest try. Many times we have heard the story of the camper who was afraid at first and then wasn’t ready to go home at the end of the week because they so enjoyed their camp experience.
HOMESICK PREVENTION IDEAS
Twelve million kids go away to camp each summer. For most summer camp is an opportunity to be independent, learn self-reliance and experience adventure. However, with so many children going to camp, some will become homesick. While homesickness is usually mild and temporary, It’s not fun for your child – or for you. Fortunately, you can help prevent homesickness with these steps:
- Help your child learn about Luther Park before they get here: Look at pictures on the website and on Facebook. Find out names of other kids who have gone to camp and have your child talk to them about what happens when they are here. Read the information that is on-line and discuss what their time at camp might include.
- Do a practice run: Let your child stay at grandma’s house or attend a friend’s sleepover to practice being away from home.
- Tour Camp: Come to the Open House Pancake Breakfast held in May or call and make arrangements to tour the camp.
- Save the date: Mark a calendar with the camp dates so that your child can visualize the beginning and ending of the trip.
- Pack together: Encourage your child to pack a picture, stuffed animal or other comforting memories.
- Help them connect: Send along paper and stamped, addressed envelopes so that your child can write home.
- Send a picture of you with your camper: This helps the camper be less homesick when they can still “see” you
- Have a Heart-to-Heart: Explain that everyone gets homesick sometimes. Be positive and enthusiastic about your child’s independence. If you have your own separation anxiety, keep it a secret!
- Don’t promise an early pickup if your child is homesick: This puts your child’s focus on getting home – and it sends the message that the experience won’t be a success.
- Discuss ahead of time what to do if your child starts feeling homesick: Write down your ideas and pack it in their suitcase. Some ideas might be: talk to a friend or counselor, do something fun or new, look at a picture from home, think about something good that happened that day, or write a letter home to share your camp experience.
- Don’t let your child worry about you while he/she is at camp: Reassure your child that you will be fine while they are away. Many children worry about you and wonder if you are okay when they don’t see you. Send them encouraging, happy notes. You can send them emails by clicking here. (Campers attending Recharges will not be at camp long enough to receive an email. As an alternative, parents may send an encouraging note to be left with your child’s counselor to handed out on Saturday.)
HOMESICK CAMPER POLICY
If a camper begins to feel homesick, Luther Park Staff follows these steps:
- The camper’s counselor informs the Program Coordinator of the camper’s homesickness. The counselor also encourages the camper to become actively involved in activities and to have fun.
- If the camper really wants to call home, the counselor consults with the Program Coordinator. The Program Coordinator calls the parents to inform them of their camper’s homesickness. At this point, the parents are consulted as to how they would like their child’s homesickness to be handled.
- The Program Coordinator and counselor will follow the parents’ instructions. Several options may be offered: the camper might try to become more actively involved and stay at camp; the camper might call and speak with his/her parents; or the parents might pick up the camper from camp.
We, as the Luther Park Staff, do our best to include everyone in our camp community. We want campers to feel as comfortable as possible especially when it may be the first time away from their family. Yet, for some campers it’s still not easy to be away from home. We feel it is best for the parents to decide whether it’s appropriate for the camper to be encouraged to stay at camp or go home and try another year.
At the same time, when a camper is extremely homesick it’s not only difficult for the camper, but also for the camper’s counselor and the community of the cabin. We hope that together we can find the best solution for everyone involved.