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Working Through Homesickness at Camp

Being away from home builds self-esteem and independence


May 2014

One of the many joys of parenthood is helping children navigate new waters. And, while often these situations are met with hesitation, slight anxiety – or in the case of some first-time campers, homesickness – it is these moments that develop the twenty-first century skills needed in adulthood. New situations, such as going away to Camp, serve as teachers in life's classroom – developing leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, independence and problem-solving.

It's important, even critical, for parents to help children overcome any feelings of hesitation in order to help them grow. Take camp, for example. From a child's perspective, camp is fun, fun, fun! Parents know that camp provides immeasurable growth opportunities, and is a vital part of childhood. As the day approaches, even the most excited campers sometimes get nervous about being away from home. "Homesickness is completely normal," said Michael Thompson, consultant, author and psychologist in a recent PBS article. "If a child loves his or her parents and has a good home, why wouldn't he or she feel some longing for mom, for dad, for the dog, or for home cooking?"

It is up to parents, then, to help ease the transition to camp, and help their children grow from the experience. The American Camp Association suggests the following advice to help alleviate anxiety and get a jump start on life's lessons.
  • Encourage independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend's house, can simulate the camp environment.

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Tags: Camp, In This Issue

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