If you’re worried that your child is going to experience homesickness at CYJ this summer, there are a few steps you can take right now to help prepare them and make the transition from home to camp much easier. Homesickness is the brain’s natural way of signaling to the body that they’re in an unfamiliar setting and don’t have the usual people and structures around them to keep them safe. Knowing that, a little preparation can go a long way toward counteracting those signals.
Practice Smaller Separations Now
Plan sleepovers with family or friends so that your child can get a feel for what it’s like to sleep away from home and can get a few test runs in before camp begins. Make sure to send them with a comfort item that will help them feel more at ease in an unfamiliar environment. If you have a particularly nervous kiddo, you might get a phone call during the sleepover asking to come home. If so, encourage them (without bribing) to stick it out. Remind them of all the fun they’ll have when they wake up the next morning. Getting a few successful sleepovers under their belt will teach your child that they are resilient enough to survive a night without you, and that’s an important first step in preparing for summer camp.
Start The Camp Countdown
Hang a calendar on your wall or refrigerator that you and your child can use to countdown the days until camp begins. This will help build excitement, just like counting down the days to a holiday or birthday. It will also give you a frequent opportunity to discuss what camp will be like with your child. Teaching them exactly what to expect when it comes to life at camp will go a long way toward minimizing that initial feeling of worry that they’ll experience when they arrive at a new place without you. You can find plenty of pictures of the CYJ facilities on our website to help build up both familiarity and excitement!
Send Your Child Off To Camp With Little Pieces Of Home
Just like with sleepovers, having a comfort item from home can go a long way toward helping campers settle into life at camp. But there’s more that you can do to make camp feel like home. Throw a little bit of extra fabric softener in the dryer when you wash your child’s clothes before packing them, and they’ll smell like home for days. Make sure that the toiletries you send with your child are what they’re used to so that even brushing their teeth tastes and feels familiar. You can even tuck a little note into their bag that validates any feelings of homesickness your child might be experiencing while also modeling how to cope with those feelings. It could say something like “I miss you very much, but I know how much fun you’re going to have at camp and I can’t wait to read about all of your adventures in your letters home.”
Most homesickness only lasts for the first couple of days of camp. After that, the brain becomes more familiar with its surroundings and stops sending the body those anxiety-inducing warning signals. Soon enough, your child will be so busy swimming, canoeing, and zip-lining that they’ll completely forget their worries. We’re getting ready for your camper at CYJ, and if you follow the steps above, your camper will be ready for us, too!