Writing Letters to your Camper: Tips Every Parent Should Read!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

What to do if your child gets homesick:

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.

Tips for what to say in a letter to a homesick camper: 

  • 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.

Why Camp Is a Multi-Year Experience

As active leaders in the camping industry, we know that Camp Gives Kids a World of Good. We’ve seen the studies and statistics and know that summer camp – regardless of which one you pick – can be a positive and impactful experience for any child. But is one time at summer camp enough?

We believe camp is a multi-year experience. Unlike many other long-running sleepaway camps on the east coast which offer 4 or 7 week options, Camp Friendship offers short 1 and 2-week sessions which can be combined to stay multiple weeks. We know that many first-time parents consider their first summer a ‘trial run’, and we also know how important it is for both campers and parents to feel ready for an overnight camp experience (even though at the end of the week, many first-time campers beg to be allowed to stay longer!).

Here’s 5 reasons we know that camp is best when experienced over multiple years:

1. Strengthen connections. Camp gives kids the chance to connect with others face-to-face. Campers stay friends with each other throughout the year and strengthen those existing connections at camp the following summer. Better yet, they continue to expand their circle of friends each year and, at Camp Friendship, they have the added benefit of being exposed to a global village with people who come from all over the world.

2. Practice emotional intelligence. As they get older, children need to practice the self-management of their emotions. Camp is the ideal setting to practice this as counselors serve as excellent yet subtle role models. Children expect to be told what to do and how to be by their parents… they don’t expect to be shaped by their counselors who can give them friendly advice from the vantage point of a friend who cares.

3. Guaranteed growth and progression. Not only is there the activity progression that follows the notion that ‘practice makes perfect’ in any sport or activity, but multiple years at camp offers social growth and development. It also allows campers to increase their independence from year to year. The first time at an overnight camp makes a big impact in the life of our campers, but each subsequent camp experience adds to and enhances the next.

4. Take a break from technology. We hear it every day – the ever-increasing impact of technology on humanity, and specifically children. Every year, as campers get older and become more dependent on technology, having a time set aside when they can be technology-free is a great way to help them become well-adjusted individuals.

5. Remove outside pressures that increase with age. Camp Friendship is a place to be YOU, allowing campers to join a welcoming community where they don’t need to pretend to be someone they’re not. Every aspect of camp creates a nurturing, inclusive environment where campers are encouraged to be themselves. Everyone is equal, everyone is supported, and everyone matters. The pressures from school, siblings and peers are removed, and, as parents, having these pressures removed for a period of time every year is especially appealing.

Tips for First Time Co-Ed Summer Camp Parents near North Carolina

Teamwork, Positivity, Encouragement for Campers

We are less than a month away until our co-ed summer camp near North Carolina gets underway! With the school year coming to an end, your house must be booming with excitement for a summer of fun at summer camp!! Of course it’s perfectly normal for first time campers (and parents) to experience some anxiety as departure for camp gets closer and closer.

It’s just as normal for a parent to worry about missing their child as it is for a child to worry about missing home. This may be the first time your child will not be home at night and there in the morning when you wake up. But, this is what the sleep away camp experience is all about! It’s a learning and growing experience for children and their parents!

Your children will be in a controlled, worry-free, and safe environment. Just because you aren’t there to watch them, doesn’t mean they will be alone! The great camp staff will be there to make sure your children have the best summer of their lives!

And, this of course is why you decided to send your children to summer camp in the first place! You recognize the value and benefits camp has on children. Camp is a place to grow, learn to be independent, and build long lasting friendships with a new group of children.

Of course, this doesn’t make it any easier on you as a first time camp parent! Here are some tips and ideas to remember as this year’s camp season approaches:

  • As parents, we run into situations where we tell our kids that it’s okay to be nervous. Remind yourself of this very fact! Assure your nervous kids that camp will be a blast, and remember to practice what you preach!
  • Embrace this time away from your children. Focus on a hobby, activity, or project that you’ve been “meaning to get around to”. Maybe there is a class you’ve always wanted to take?
  • Your children will someday go away to college, and this is a perfect opportunity to experience what life will be like!
  • Just think of the joy you will experience when you see that smiling face on your camper when you go pick them up at the end of their time at camp!

Most importantly remember that you don’t have to worry! Your camper is safe and thriving at summer camp. They are learning to make decisions, learning new skills, and gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities!

If you are still concerned, check out our Parent Resources. And remember, camp is only a phone call away, and Visiting Day is just around the corner!

5 Reasons to Send Your Child to Sleepaway Camp in Virginia

Campers at Camp Friendship in VirginiaAre you still on the fence about whether or not to send your child to sleepaway camp? Summer camp is great for so many reasons (and we’ll get to those reasons later in this post).

Let’s start with a little about us. We are conveniently located between Washington DC and Richmond, in Palmyra VA, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and are looking forward to another great summer here at camp! And, the good news, we still have a few spots open for new campers! So, jump the fence and register your children for a session at Camp Friendship!

Here is a quick rundown of 5 reasons to send your child to sleepaway camp!

1. Build Self-Confidence: Camp can seem overwhelming, especially to first time, young, shy campers. But, summer camp is actually the best place for your child to come out of their shell and develop a new self-confidence. We create an encouraging and supportive environment in which your child will feel comfortable trying new activities!

2. To Learn Responsibility: At summer camp, children must learn to make decisions for themselves, such as what activities to participate in. Children also must learn to be responsible for keeping their cabin clean, and following a schedule. This learned responsibility carries over into their daily lives at home and in school as well.

3. Social Interactions: In today’s digital world, children are learning to communicate through a box…text messages, email, chat, etc. At summer camp, technology is removed, and children are able to gain the social skills needed to succeed later in life.

4. Lifelong Friendships: There are no other friends like summer camp friends. Sleep-away camp allows your children to form bonds with children they may have never had a chance to meet. Through shared experiences and adventures, your camp friends become your extended family!

5. Unforgettable Memories: Every summer at Camp Friendship we strive to create the most amazing camp experience for our campers. Camp is a place for experiences, growing, memories, friendships, and most importantly FUN!

If you are still unsure, contact us today and speak with the camp staff. We are here to answer your questions, and address your concerns.