Almost all children (and grown-ups!) miss home when they’re away. In a recent study, nearly 96% of all campers spending two or more weeks at an overnight camp reported that they missed home on at least one day. At Shrine Mont Camps we prepare and discuss missing home throughout our training week so that our staff can combat missing home efficiently and keep campers happy and engaged at camp. We pride ourselves on our staff’s ability to make every camper feel that they belong and have a place at camp.
You’ll notice that we say missing home instead of homesick, because homesick implies that something is wrong with them (which is not the case) and can sometimes make campers believe they are actually ill. There are also several things that you can do to help both you and your child have the best camp experience.
- Work together to plan and pack for camp.
This allows your child to think through what they’ll be doing at camp and feel comfortable knowing what they have with them from home.
- Make sure to tell your camper that you are proud of them, believe in them, and that you are excited that they have this opportunity.
Your child will remember this when they are missing home and it can fuel them to reengage and enjoy their camp experience to make you proud!
- Post up the daily schedule somewhere where your camper can see it.
Often times children find routine very comforting and when they come to camp, that routine is often changed. Going over the schedule beforehand can help to alleviate the nerves surrounding an unfamiliar schedule.
- Give your camper pre-addressed, stamped envelopes or postcards so they can write to you.
Every day after lunch camps have rest period. This is normally about a 1 hour period for your campers to recharge. Campers are expected to be quiet in their bunks and often campers like to write letters to their parents during this time.
- Discuss what camp will be like with your child, how big are the cabins, how they will eat, where are the bathrooms, are there bugs, etc.
If you want more information to share with your camper, please call Maggie Kennedy at (800) DIOCESE x1043.
There are a few other things we wanted to bring to your attention that may seem helpful to do, but can be harmful to your child’s camp experience.
Please take note of these things we ask you to avoid:
- Telling your camper that they can call you.
At Shrine Mont Camps we have a no phone policy. This means that campers are not able to have access to their phones, or the camp phone to call home. [Remember, in case of emergencies there are ways to be in touch.]
- Telling your camper that you will come pick them up.
This conveys a message of doubt that can undermine children’s confidence and independence. “Pick-up Deals” often become mental crutches and self-fulfilling prophecies for children as soon as they arrive at camp.
- Overly emotional letters. Be mindful of the information you include in your letters to your child.
It isn’t necessarily helpful to remind a child how much their dog or cat misses them. This can make a camper start to feel like they are missing out on things at home. Look at letters as a great way to encourage your child to enjoy the camp experience and empower their independence.
For more information on how you can help your camper through missing home, please check out this blog post by our friends at the American Camp Association!