How to Help Your Camper With Homesickness At Camp

campers and counselors smiling at camera with paint on hands

Are you a first time camper parent or guardian? Has your camper experienced homesickness at camp before? Use these 5 helpful tips to prepare your campers for a week or two away from home. As a former homesick camper, who now eats, sleeps, and breathes summer camp year-round, I can tell you that homesickness can be a fleeting thing for many campers. And, these 5 tips can help campers homesickness dissipate that much faster.

Writing & Sending Letters

Before your camper even leaves the driveway of your home, send letters to them via snail mail. Address it to your camper, label it with the day you would like them to read letters. Having letters from parents, guardians, and friends can help campers feel seen and loved from afar, all while enjoying the day to day of camp. 

Pro Tip: Equip your campers with the necessary tools to write letters to you from camp. Send them with some fun stationery, envelopes and stamps.

Writing Emails To The Office Staff

Email camp, talk to the counselor, and talk to the village leader before you send your camper to camp. After your camper arrives on the woodchips, send an email to the office staff to check in on your camper. Sometimes campers experience homesickness and some are blissfully unaware they are away from home. The office staff can check in with the counselors or Village Leaders and get back to you within the day.

Write Emails To Your Camper

Emails can be sent to a village leader and printed out for the camper to read at dinner time. Letting your camper know what you are up to, can make them feel at ease and lessen the homesickness they may feel. Try to hype up their experience. Ask them what the best part of their day was? Counselors and village leaders can scan or type up a camper’s response and get it back to you quickly. 

Prepare Your Camper And The Staff

Talk to your camper before they leave for Camp. Ask them what they want. What strategies does your camper think will work best for them? Let your camper have some choice when navigating homesickness. Campers tend to feel most homesick the first day, and at night. Some tried and true options are encouraging your camper to stay active during the day, this will help them feel tired at night and make it hard for them to stay awake feeling homesick. 

Pro-Tip: Send your campers to camp with more than one book and a book-light. Flashlights can be too bright and keep the rest of the cabin awake. A book light is the perfect compromise. Your camper can fall asleep reading their book.

Pro-Tip: Send your camper to camp with some type of security item that they are willing to lose-campers will almost always lose at least one item at camp. Maybe, you send them with a stuffed animal that the two of you bought together. Or, a printed photo of you and your family so that the camper can look at it. 

Send Your Camper With A Prepped Journal

Ever pick your camper up from school and ask what they did, and their response was “nothing”? Ask your camper to write down the activities they did at camp during the day. Tell them to write down the names of their friends. Make prepping a camp journal a fun bonding activity for the both of you to do before sending them off to camp. Having a list of what your camper participated in, and the names of their friends and favorite counselors, is a great opportunity for you and your camper to start conversations about their experiences at camp. 

So what now…?

There are many strategies and options for you and your camper to choose from to help manage homesickness at camp. Take a moment to reflect on what your camper loves and needs, and choose something that you know will work for them. Our staff go through 100 hours of onboarding before arriving at camp, and 3 and a half weeks of staff training. We know how to best help your camper and you feel at ease when sending them to camp. Speaking as a former homesick camper myself, eventually the homesickness fades away, and as soon as I left camp, I counted down the days until my return.