As mentioned in our last blog, "Missing Home. Part 1" we discussed how to help your son gain experience being away from home and a few other tips to help your son before he arrived at camp. But what happens if you receive a homesick letter from your son while he is at camp? Or a phone call from a counselor letting you know your son is homesick? First-don't panic! Your son is safe and we are helping him through this incredibly important growth period.
Not all campers get homesick, in fact, not many campers do at all. But if they DO miss home we always encourage them to WRITE A LETTER HOME! So if you receive a homesick letter remember we are encouraging all campers who are missing home to do this. We encourage the boys to express their feelings and sometimes doing this can help the campers feel more connected to their home as well as recognizing that feeling like this is normal.
Our counselors usually help the boys write these letters and encourage the campers to be honest about everything they miss at home-this opens up communication channels and trust between our campers and counselors. Once the letter has been written the counselors create an action plan with their camper to help them overcome and work through their homesickness. When do they miss home? What can they add to their life at camp to keep the feelings of homesickness at bay? What can they do when the feelings of homesickness kick in? Generally by the time the letter arrives home your son has settled into camp life and the homesickness has past with the help and guidance from their counselor.
But receiving a homesick letter can be difficult and somewhat delicate to handle. Responding in a way to let your son know "he has got this!" and you are confident in his abilities to overcome these feelings and have a great time is so important. We encourage parents to give us a call in the office if you receive a letter you are concerned about. We will have your sons head counselor check in with his cabin counselors and get a report on how he is doing since the letter was sent. As mentioned in our last blog-don't offer an early pick up deal! If you write back with a "I will come get you if your still feeling homesick in a week" could prevent the camper from fully engaging in camp life as they are holding on to the promise of going home IF they are still homesick. We encourage something a long the lines of "I am so proud of you for working through your homesickness and cannot wait to hear all about your awesome adventures at camp" followed by questions about activities he was excited about trying, new friends etc. Give him a little info on what is going on back home (around 20% of the letter) but keep it positive and avoid writing things such as "I am so lonely", "I never want you to be gone away this long again".
Usually when a camper receives a confidence boosting letter without an early pick up deal they fully immerse themselves into camp life, embrace that they will be here for the next days/weeks and the homesick feelings drift away. Remember campers can (and often are!) having an incredible time at camp and then get homesick for 30 minutes before bed, or at a meal time, or when they are tired and write a homesick letter home.
We hope these past 2 blog posts have helped provide you with a few ideas that give you confidence that will help you and your son have a great summer at Camp Carolina. Not many campers experience homesickness but being prepared in case it does occur is really important in helping you and your son have a great sleep away experience. And remember -if you are ever concerned before, during or after your sons camp experience-please give us a call! We would love to chat!