I’m homesick…

Campfire! Songs! Hikes! New friends!
Who needs all of those things when you are feeling like you just want to go home?
It’s perfectly normal for some children to feel homesick while they’re at camp. It’s actually healthy. Wouldn’t you want to know that your child missed something about home? According to Dr. Christopher Thurber, a board-certified clinical psychologist, “83% of boys and girls who were spending at least two weeks at overnight camp felt some degree of homesickness.” (American Camping Association)

Here are some tips to prepare and help your child get ready for camp:
Rule 1: Please don’t cry. (This rule is for the parents.) If you are on the verge of tears then try to hide them. Sing a song to your child or repeat all of the wonderful things they will be doing at camp.
Rule 2: When packing your child’s suitcase leave little notes of encouragement. One year I had a 6 year old girl who was very attached to her mother. The child cried at the drop off, on the bus, and once we arrived at the camp site. When she opened her suitcase her mother had placed small notes inside her toothbrush case. She had another note in her underwear bag. She found notes tucked in underneath her pants. All of the notes were positive.  They also helped alleviate a lot of the child’s stress.  *Try phrases like:

  • You are so brave!
  • I’m proud of you! I can’t wait to hear about all of your fun.
  • Never forget Mommy and Daddy love you!
  • Keep smiling!
  • Have fun!

Rule 3: Encourage your child to stay busy!
Rule 4:Help your child learn how to make new friends! Camps have tons of ice breakers and games for children to play in order to feel comfortable around one another.  Stress the importance of playing these games and how they can help your child make new friends.
Rule 5: Put on a happy face! Remind your child to smile. Remember camp is for just a little while.
Rule 6: Give your child a letter writing packet. Ask them to write you a letter a day. For younger children they can always draw you a picture.  The letter or drawing could be about something fun, something they learned, something they ate or just a picture of them.
Rule 7: This rule is specific to English only international camps. Encourage your child to speak English.   Counselors and support staff will always ask students to use English, but prepping your child for being in an English only environment is very important.

*If you don’t have time to write a set of notes I found a link for you. Just download these Lunch Box Notes for free!


About Michaela Chatman

Michaela Chatman is the founder of Camp Roadless Summer Visual and Performing Arts Summer Camp based in the Tokyo area. She has taught in Chicago, New York City, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. She has worked with children from ages 5-16. She is a dedicated fan and supporter of the arts. She performs locally in Tokyo with Kaguratei, a blues band. She is an active member in TELL:Exceptional Parents Group, Japan Affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum (JASCD), Tokyo Investment Group, and Pink Cow Connections Networking Group. For fun she organizes The Tokyo Lovers Pizza Meetup Group.
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2 Responses to I’m homesick…

  1. i remembered my nursery days. How badly i used to cry when i was alone at school without my mom and now its our kids time to make them realize that there is other world also other then home and mom..

    • Michaela Chatman says:

      I know what you mean. I think my most traumatic leaving home experience had to be going to kindergarten. Fortunately, when I came home my entire family greeted me with hugs and kisses! I think that’s the most important thing that kids need to know. They are only leaving for a little while and you can always come home. I know my mom still tells me that and I am over 30. lol!

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