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Strategies for Handling Homesickness

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How do I handle a homesick camper?
If your prevention strategies break down, and you feel a camper is not enjoying camp or “giving up”, here are some do's and don’ts for handling their feelings.

What works:
  • Talk to the camper: Find out how they want to feel, like happy instead of lonely, and find out what they envision they are doing when they feel this way.
  • Set goals: Ask them what they want out of their camp experience (ex: to have fun, meet friends, try new things) and offer ways to help them focus on their goals rather than their homesickness. If they like art, for example, make sure they attend the camp’s art clinic or introduce them to the counselor in charge of the art program.
  • Provide coping strategies: If they start to feel homesick, establish a way they will cope with their feelings. They can write a letter home about their fun activities or talk to you or another camper about their homesick feelings.
  • Consult your immediate supervisor or camp director for help: They have dealt with many homesick campers and most are happy to offer some support to you and the camper.

What doesn’t work:
  • Calling home: Talking to Mom or Dad will only make the camper miss home.
  • Offering candy and special privileges.
  • Setting a time limit for their camp stay: “Give it one more week and you can come home”. The homesick camper focuses on leaving, instead of trying to find coping methods for their homesick feelings.

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About the Author

Cynthia Feeney is a freelance writer from Carlsbad, CA. She spent many summers as a camper in Ohio and was a counselor at Point-O-Pines Camp for Girls in upstate New York during college.

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