We know how hard it can be to send your child away to camp for weeks at a time and not be able to call or message them as often as you’d like. Although Camp Friendship is a technology-free camp, we also highly value communication and try to help you stay in touch with your camper as often as possible. We have our special e-letter system in place for just this reason, and we even set aside time during each busy camp day for campers to write home.
Some parents like to pre-write a number of letters to be delivered during their child’s stay at camp. If you’d like to do this, please date each letter and mail them ahead of time or drop them with us on Check-In Day. For ideas, check out 5 Letters to Write to Your Kids and our 5 tips below:
- Keep your letters upbeat. It’s important for campers to receive encouraging letters focused on the positive experience of camp rather than what they may be missing out on at home.
- Ask lots of specific questions. What is your favorite activity so far and why? What do you do in the evenings? What countries are your counselors from and have you learned anything new about that country?
- Give them updates about things that interest them. If their favorite sports team has played recently, give them the scores and updates, or if they’re interested in a particular celebrity, TV show or competition you could update them on these too. Not only does this show your camper that you value what interests them, but it will help them to feel connected to something familiar without bringing about homesickness.
- Send campers your love, not your anxiety. Try not to constantly talk about how much you miss them – rather express how much you care and how you can’t wait to hear all about the fun they’ve had at camp.
- Get creative and fun! Unique letters from a pet, secret coded letters or puzzle-type letters that need to be solved are always a hit here at camp! You’ll find some great ideas here and also here.
Research shows that around 90% of campers will experience some level of homesickness at least once during the summer. Please know that homesickness is definitely the norm rather than the exception, and let your child know that it’s completely OK to miss home and the things that are familiar to them.
At Camp Friendship, our staff are well-trained to deal with all levels of homesickness and with this being our 51st summer we have a good idea of what works to encourage campers to make the most of their camp experience. Our goal is for every camper to have a successful summer where they gain independence, increase their self-confidence and form connections with others. Parents can help by preparing themselves and their camper for the summer in a way that might prevent homesickness. Read more here.
- Empathize with them, but let them know that you’re proud of them for taking the big step to come to camp.
- Reassure them that it’s OK to miss home, everyone does at some point, and being in a new environment can make anyone anxious.
- Relate to them. You could share personal experiences of a time when you yourself felt homesick or if your camper has an older sibling or family member that successfully overcame homesickness you could share what helped them.
- Focus on the positive. By the time you receive a homesick letter, your camper is likely to have bounced back and started to enjoy themselves again, so it’s important that your letter doesn’t hinder any progress they may already have made. Concentrating your letter on any exciting news your camper has already shared is a sure-fire way to remind them that camp is a fantastic experience.
- Make them smile. Write them a few jokes or other creative letters to make them smile if they happen to experience another moment or two where they miss home.
- Don’t suggest they quit. One of the hardest things for parents not to say is ‘if you don’t like it you can just come home’. While many parents think this will reassure their child, it often does much more harm than good. Of course in severe cases of homesickness this is a decision you would come to over multiple talks and updates from your camper’s Village Supervisor or a Camp Director, however sending your child to camp with the knowledge that they can pull the plug at any time can set them up to have an unsuccessful summer.
Please know that while homesickness is common at all sleepaway camps and across all ages, it doesn’t last long. We’ve had years of supporting our campers through their initial adjustment periods and we know that your brilliantly written letters will help to put a smile on their faces when they need it the most! We believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and we look forward to being an active partner in your child’s journey of wonder and self-discovery.