Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Somers School Camp
Homesickness - Advice for Parents
For many children, Somers Camp is the first time they have been away from home.
This is an exciting, but also daunting time. Research has shown that 95% of
children will experience some degree of homesickness during camp, even if they
have been away from home before. We are dedicated to ensuring your child is
cared for whilst they are at camp, but there are some ways that you can help to
prepare them for their journey before they arrive. We encourage you to pack
that extra pair of socks, but the following are some techniques to help you also
pack their emotional suitcase.
Involve your child in the decision to spend time away from home. Taking part in even the smallest decisions will increase their perception of control, and thus their confidence whilst at camp.
Encourage your child to help pack their bags and include a momento of home, such as photos, their favorite pillow, or a much loved stuffed toy.
Educate your child about homesickness by saying something similar to this: "Almost everyone misses something about home. Homesickness is normal. It means that there are lots of things about home that you love! The good news is that there are lots of things that you can think and do to help make things better when homesickness bothers you."
Provide coping strategies ( suggestions are provided below) and test these by organising a practice sleepover at a friend or relative's house. During the practice time away try not to make contact by phone, but allow your child an opportunity to write a letter home. After the time away, discuss the coping strategies that best worked for your child.
Practice letter writing and addressing an envelope. This will ensure that your child feels confident and capable to stay in touch with home. Consider pre-addressing and stamping envelopes to send with them.
Work together with your child to learn about all the exciting things that Somers Camp has to offer. The best resources are our website, and the children and teachers who have been to camp previously.
Encourage your child to make new friends and seek the support of trusted adults. Both kinds of connections can help with the adjustment to a new environment.
Refrain from expressing anxious or ambivalent feelings about your child's time away from home. Although well intentioned, some statements such as "I hope that you will be OK, I'm not so sure how I will cope without you" can exacerbate homesickness.
Try to express enthusiasm and optimism about the separation and new environment with statements such as: "Of course I will miss you, because I love you. But I know that you will have a great time at camp and I am so excited to hear about your adventures."
If you are still feeling anxious about the separation, consider discussing this with other parents and teachers from your child's school, or call Somers Camp and have a chat about your concerns with our staff members.
Suggested Coping Strategies
The following are a few coping stategies you son or daughter might like to try when they are feeling homesick. They can even test some out during their practice time away and decide which ones work best.
Try doing something fun as a distraction, like playing with friends or kicking a ball around.
Do something that makes you feel closer to home, like wrtiting a letter or looking at photos of your family.
Have a chat to someone who can help you feel better, such as your friends or a teacher.
Think about the positives to make yourself feel better, for example the activities you are looking forward to and the friendships you have made.
Think that your time away is actually pretty short. Break it down into sections - How many more sleeps to go? How long until the next activity? How long until Visitor's Day?
Try to imagine what your loved ones would be saying to you if they knew that you were feeling sad. What advice would they give you?
Making a "Pick-up Deal" with your son or daughter greatly decreases the likelihood of success in their new environment. Promising that
"If you don't like it, I will come and pick you up" tells your child that you have little confidence in their abilty to cope. This also puts you in a difficult position of either; a) needing to follow through with your promise, potentially resulting in your child missing out on a wonderful opportunity, or; b) reneging on your promise, which could lead to an erosion of trust with your child.
If you are presented with the question "What if I feel homesick?" then you can respond by saying something like this:
"Well you probably will feel a little homesick, but there are teachers and friends who will help you through and we will discuss lots of strategies that you can use to help as well. You'll have a great time, I can't wait the hear all about it".
Enjoy the preparation leading up to camp and we look forward to meeting your son or daughter and providing them with an "Experience for a lifetime"