Both returning campers and new campers will miss home during camp but there are a few ways you can prevent your camper from "missing home."
The Do's and Don'ts for Preparing Your Camper
Summer break is just around the corner and campers are counting down the days until they head off to camp. Before any camper can head out to the ropes course or take a dip in the pool, a whole lot of steps have to be taken on the homefront to ensure that they are thoroughly prepared for their summer away. Getting kids ready for a summer at camp can be a daunting task, so we have gathered a few do’s and don’ts to help you make sure your camper is well prepared and excited for their adventures at camp.
Do talk to your camper about the possibility of homesickness
First, at Canyon Creek, we refer to homesickness as "missing home" - this helps kids better understand their feelings and it helps to normalize what they may be experiencing. Discussing the possibility of "missing home" can help a camper be better prepared to cope if they do indeed find themselves missing home during their time at camp. Make sure to let your camper know that this feeling is completely normal (and even healthy!). Begin by talking through some strategies for handling what they are feeling. Keep your conversations positive and encouraging- remind your camper that you are confident in their ability to be successful and how sure you are that they will have a blast at camp. Be sure they know that they can always talk to someone at camp about their feelings - their cabin counselors, our head counselors, any of our Directors, Camp Mom, or anyone they feel comfortable with.
Don’t expect the worst
As a parent, you send your kids to camp because you know that your child will learn, grow, and most importantly, have endless amounts of fun, so don’t second guess yourself! Send your kids to camp full of positivity and your kids will surely get the most out of their summer. Absolutely ditch the “pickup plan” for just in case they don’t like camp. Promising you will pick up your camper if they don’t like camp almost always sets them up for disaster and only works to plant seeds of doubt into your camper’s mind. Not to mention this could cause your kids to head off to camp with unnecessary stress. Encourage your camper to head into this new experience with an open mind and get them excited about their summer plans. Once they are at camp, not only do we train our counselors and other staff to recognize signs of missing home, but our experienced Directors work one-on-one with any camper missing home and help them understand, express, and work through their feelings to experience camp success! And, of course, our Directors keep parents informed all along the way!
Do encourage your camper to write letters home
There’s no better way to encourage your kids to communicate with you during their stay at camp than by sending them with some awesome cards that they can’t wait to get writing on. Or, use our one-way email system where you write them a note, we print it out, deliver the note, then they can write you back a letter that we scan and you receive right away! More information on this one-way email system can be found in your camp account. If you are planning on having your kid send good old "snail mail," make sure you give your camper a quick review of how to address an envelope!
Don’t help your camper hide a cell phone in their luggage
We get it- you are dying to hear from your camper after their first day or two at camp, but helping your child to break camp rules is a recipe for disaster. Hiding contraband items, like cell phones, in your camper’s luggage will only force your camper to sneak around and could lead to disciplinary action- not an enjoyable way to spend time at camp. Giving campers the connection to home through cell phone access undermines the extremely important process of being able to handle situations on their own - they will learn at camp that if they are having a problem, they can rely on themselves and other sources to help them through. Mom and Dad can't always rescue them. This is huge for kids of all ages to know! Also, reassure your camper that, despite what they might believe, it is indeed possible to survive a couple of weeks without checking their Snapchat and help them to part ways with their beloved iPhone. They will learn (or re-learn) how to actually talk to people face-to-face, and give their fingertips a break from all the texting and online chatting!
Do make sure to send your camper some positive letters or emails on the first few days of camp
The first few days of camp can be nerve-wracking for both you and your camper, but sending encouraging messages to your kids can bring some peace of mind to you both. Tell your camper how excited you are for them and all the opportunities that camp is going to provide them with. Don’t be discouraged if your camper doesn’t respond right away- the first couple of days at camp are especially busy, but we’re sure you’ll hear from your camper in no time.
Remember, mail call is a very exciting time of the day for all campers...unless they never get mail! Utilize our one-way email system, or send cards and letters through USPS. Encourage other family members to send mail too - a letter from ANYONE is a great feeling and gives campers the connection they need to know that everyone is safe back home and can't wait to hear about all the fun they are having at camp when they return home!
Don’t fixate on what your camper is missing out on at home
Life goes on, even when the kids are at camp, but don’t make your kids feel like they are being left out of fun happenings at home. Instead of telling your camper every detail of what you are doing without them, be conscious of how your camper will feel reading your letters. Hearing about family events or trips that are taking place while they are away can encourage homesickness, so be sure to keep your letters upbeat.
Going to camp is the opportunity of a lifetime, and getting your kids prepared will make your camper feel confident and excited about their camp adventure.
There is no time like the present to start getting your camper mentally and physically ready for an unforgettable summer so get to packing, building the enthusiasm, and making a game plan for camp because your campers are in for the time of their lives!