How do you know when your child is ready for overnight camp? Long before summer camp even starts, parents can start preparing their daughters for a successful camp experience.
1. Talk about camp– all the new friends and fun activities that she will enjoy. Let your daughter know why you’re sending her to camp—to have fun, laugh, make new friends, practice independence, get dirty, try new things, etc.
2. Prepare your daughter for being away at camp by encouraging her to spend a night or weekend with friends or relatives prior to camp.
3. Reassure your daughter that you will write often– and keep that promise! Short and cheerful letters or cards are best. It’s a real boost for a camper to have mail waiting for her arrival at camp.
4. The more children know about Camp Juliette Low, the more secure they feel. Attending a Parent-Daughter Weekend (held the first weekend in May every year), seeing pictures of CJL, or seeing a camp video (link from our website) helps her begin to become familiar with the camp surroundings.
5. Meeting other campers from your local area will also help. Call our Winter Office and we will help you find a friend in your area.
6. Your daughter should know all about the plans of those at home. Parents who will be out of town should let their child know when and where they can be reached. Also, notifying the camp office of this information is very important.
7. Before camp, spend some extra time with young campers practicing life skills– organizing clothes (this is where zip lock bags come in handy for packing – see packing tips section), personal hygiene (particularly hair care—she should be able to shampoo, thoroughly rinse, and comb her own hair), making the bed, folding clothes, etc. These skills will be very helpful to her at camp. Long hair can be difficult for young girls to manage, so knowing how to put hair in a ponytail or braid is very helpful.
Feeling homesick is a normal process of growing up and being away from home. Making sure your daughter is prepared for camp (above) is the first step to preventing homesickness. The second step is to arm your camper with helpful coping strategies.
CJL also provides support and guidance for homesick campers. Our counselors learn to recognize and help girls with homesick feelings. The combination of a warm, supportive environment and a busy schedule of activities will help most girls get over their anxieties very quickly—usually within a day or two. The Camp Director will contact you if your daughter is homesick after the first day or two of camp—together, we will work on a plan to help your daughter adjust to camp life.
1. Let your daughter know that homesickness is a normal feeling and that the best cure is to get busy enjoying the activities and people at camp. Be positive, and let her know that her homesick feelings will likely fade as she makes new friends and becomes more comfortable with the routines of camp.
2. Help your daughter pick out something special from home that she can hold or look at when she gets lonely—a book, a stuffed animal (pick one that can we washed), or a family photo. Here’s one idea we love: make a simple frame for a family photo and tape it to the inside of her truck. On the frame, write the things you hope your daughter will do every day while she’s at camp, for example: Smile, Laugh, Make a New Friend, Try Something New, Be Kind, Be Independent, Be Brave, Have Fun. The photo will feel like a hug and a pep-talk from mom every time she opens her trunk!
3. Arm her with several different coping strategies to help her get through times when she is feeling homesick: write in a letter or journal about a fun activity or a new friend; make plans with a new friend to be “buddies” for activities like swim hour; take deep breaths and focus on positive thoughts; talk to a counselor and ask for help.
4. Please do not tell your daughter that you will come pick her up if she doesn’t like camp. If you do this, we are defeated before we ever start. Tell her that her counselors can help her if she becomes homesick. Note that early departure due to homesickness is not considered a reason for refund of camp fees according to camp policy.
5. Write happy letters to your camper every day!
6. Make your farewells brief and positive. Don’t linger and/or say long and sad goodbyes. It’s normal for parents to feel nervous or sad about a child going away to camp, but it’s best not to share those feelings with her. Smile and be positive!
7. Please let the Camp Director know if you suspect that your daughter will be homesick. If things are not good at home, please talk with the Camp Director in confidence. The stress that your child may be experiencing can be greatly minimized by an informed staff.
6 Ways to Help Your Child Beat Summer Camp Homesickness — Mari Jane Williams (Washington Post)
Search for articles on the American Camp Association (ACA) website– http://www.acacamps.org/