Tags: Camp, Featured Story
This summer, whether your children attend a week-long, sleep-away camp at a mountain ranch or spend a weekend at the beach with Grandma, they are sure to experience bouts where they long for home. KCFM asked our readers to give us some advice on this subject. Local parents have come up with the following eight tips to help curb their kids’ homesickness while they’re away:
1. Have a heart-to-heart
Irma Noguchi, mother of two boys, says giving words of encouragement and empathy prior to their departure can help make camp a more enjoyable experience. She says to tell them that homesickness is normal. Assure them that they’ll make unforgettable memories with new friends. “Reassure them of how proud you are of their courage in going to camp without you,” she says. “You must empathize with your child’s fears, but do not let yours show. Instead, give them strength and empowerment.”
2. Sign up a friend or sibling
Sending siblings or friends to the same camp can help provide them with security and companionship. Ixchelle Waite, mother of four, says, “I usually try to sign them up for the same camps, so they have a sibling with them, if they get homesick or sad.”
3. Write a letter for them to read while away
Having a letter to read from a loved one during a week-long camp can help combat homesickness. When local mom, Cheryl Nilsson, was a young women’s church camp leader, they had family members write letters for her campers to open during one of their hikes. “We make a big deal about them, and they got to read them on their own during solo time,” she says. “We make sure every girl has a letter, and they love hearing from home.”
4. Pack a family photo
Make sure your little campers have a family photo packed along with their camping gear. Having this picture from home can help them have happy memories during times of sadness. Local mom, Joie Nielsen, recommends putting the photo in a frame to protect it from the elements and activities of camp.
5. Send “thinking of you” notes in luggage
Tucking a note in your child’s bag or sending several to open during camp is a great way to bridge the camp-home connection. Theresa Yorba carries on this tradition with her daughter that her mom started with her as a child. “I always stick love note/thinking of you notes in her luggage for each day,” she says. “I put each day of clothes in a plastic bag and then stick the notes in there.”
6. Send a special “blankie” or stuffed animal
Taking a little piece of home, like a special toy, stuffed animal, or blanket, to camp helps provide stability and normalcy. Mother of five, Renee Christensen, made her daughters very small, square, soft blankets she calls “hugs.” “Those are their hugs from mom at night when they go to bed. They love them,” she says.
7. Encourage participation
When your kids start planning camp schedules, encourage them to get involved with as many activities as possible, where they will have the chance to make all different kinds of friends. Heidi Schiers, mother of four, uses this advice with her children. “Kids will meet other kids and maybe even find someone else who is struggling,” she says. “They will forget their homesickness, even if it is for a moment, but it will also give them the satisfaction of helping someone else.”
8. Plan a “welcome home” celebration
Before your children go away to camp, let them know that a “welcome home” celebration is already in the works. Joie Nielsen says if they have something to look forward to when they return home, such as planning a date night or a small celebration, it helps them count down the days while they are away.