Hold A Training Camp At Home
For some children, the biggest challenge of camp is not so much being far from home as it is sleeping so close to nature. Night falls and suddenly ponderosa pines take on bearlike shapes, and then Camp Sunshine doesn’t seem quite so sunny. One thing you can do to help your child become more comfortable sleeping outside is to set up a tent in the backyard for her and a friend. Make s’mores in the microwave and sing campfire songs (an empty orange powdered-Gatorade canister overturned on a headlamp makes a good faux fire in a pinch). In this familiar environment your child can become acquainted with the sounds of the outdoors while you are still relatively close at hand.
Practice Homesick Prevention
Most camp counselors agree that calling home is not the best cure for homesickness. So what can you do? Acknowledge to yourself and your child that some pangs for home are a normal part of the camp experience and be positive about your child’s ability to overcome them. During the day, most kids are too busy to pine for Mom and Dad. Rest time and bedtime can be more difficult, however. Before your child leaves for camp, encourage her to talk with camp counselors about any concerns, including homesickness. Camp instructors have seen many cases before and will be able to assess the seriousness and offer support. If your child does call, encourage her to stay the course. Also, if it’s your own feelings that are at issue, remember that you can call the camp to ask how your child is doing without letting her know about the call.
Send Your Love
Whether your child is missing home or has completely adapted to camp life, a letter from home will brighten her day. Make sure to send mail early, since postal service tends to move more slowly in rural areas. Think in terms of sending something that will be special to your child — a photo of the dog or a book of jokes she can share with new friends — rather than extravagant caches. In fact, sending large quantities of food can be a problem, because often counselors have to store it away from your child’s cabin to avoid animal visits to the sleeping areas.