Surviving Summer Camp with your homesick Tween!
(a repost) Source: Joe Bruzzese (from TweenParent.com)
“I’m homesick.” I remember the words today as clearly as the day I called home from my first sleepover camp. Kicking the soccer ball for two weeks without hearing your mom nag you about a messy room is a luxury for most ten-year-olds. By the evening of day two, my feet had started to hurt and I longed for a plate of homemade lasagna that only Mom could provide.
Getting past feelings of homesickness can be a challenge for first time campers and veterans alike. Kids are not the only ones that long for a return home. Parents too, struggle with having a child away. The thought of a quiet house sounds enticing and like a child’s first days at camp, can be quite refreshing. Before long though, both parent and child can find themselves feeling anxious.
Preparing for the week(s) while a child is away can make the difference between building an annual camp tradition and a nightmare that everyone would like to forget. Consider the following tips for creating a positive summer camp experience.
(image above courtesy of www.sheknows.com)
Set up a schedule for phone calls that both you and your child can anticipate. First-time campers don’t have the wisdom to know what to expect and will want the assurance that a call from Mom and Dad can provide. Review the camp rules regarding the use of cell phones and the camp phone before planning a consistent time to call. Check in with your child to gauge how often calls will occur. Calling every day doesn’t give either of you the chance to make a clean break. Aim for a short (5-10 minute) call every 4-7 days, with the intention of calling every seven days after the first week of camp.
Write letters in advance. Send your first letter so that it will arrive on the second or third day of camp. Continue sending a letter or postcard every 2-3 days until your child returns home. Kids like receiving mail despite what they may tell you before camp begins. There’s something exciting about hearing your name at the camp mail call. By contrast, waiting for the letter that will never arrive can be heartbreaking.
Focus on the positive. Although you may be counting the hours until your child’s return, steer clear of including your heart-warming thoughts that will likely trigger feelings of homesickness among even the most well-adjusted camper. Instead, opt for asking questions like, “Who is your favorite counselor?” and “What are your favorite activities?” that keep the focus on what your child is enjoying most about the camp experience.
Be prepared with a response if your child were to call and say, “I’m homesick.” Begin by acknowledging your child’s feelings with a statement like, “Being away can be tough” but leave him with a positive, light-hearted statement, “Just think, you won’t have to clean up your room, feed the dog or cook dinner. Your dad can to that.” Just like your letters, keep any phone conversations focused on camp highlights and the continued lineup of activities. Kids tend to focus more on home during unscheduled camp hours. Giving your child a goal to shoot for can help quell homesickness during downtime. The challenge of meeting someone new or finding a way to help someone each day can reignite your child’s desire to be at camp.
Soccer camp paved the way to my long-standing love for sleepover camps. I remember calling home on at least three separate occasions the first summer, requesting an early return home. To her credit, my mom continued to assure me that I would find friends, learn new skills and in the end, enjoy the experience. Eventually camp came to an end and as Mom had foreseen I left thinking about my return the following year.
Joe Bruzzese, author of A Parent’s Guide to the Middle School Years and parent education expert, speaks to parents across the United States offering practical and long terms strategies for overcoming the challenges of the middle school years. Download your free checklist, “Is My Child Thriving or Just Surviving” at www.MiddleSchoolYears.com/list. For information on Joe’s work visit www.middleschoolyears.com.
This blog repost was inspired by several recent conversations I’ve had with parents whose kids are gone for a few weeks and they are all
miserable 🙂 – Keep the Faith and stay busy during their absence… be strong dear parents ! It’s good for EVERYONE to grow this summer.
PS – I found Another great blog for summer camps and parenting at “She Knows Parenting” the article – Camp Chatter ! Parents, please note for both of my links today are from mainstream parenting blogs and websites, so please understand that RoadTrip Parenting is giving you a basic disclaimer on whatever other content you find at these sites, but the articles referenced here are fun and helpful for any parent!