We feel like homesickness at summer camp presents a wonderful opportunity for your son to work through something difficult with the support of his counselor, the other staff here, and fellow campers. You can do much to prepare your son for going away to camp, especially if it is his first camp experience. Talking honestly with your son about what to expect can ease the transition from home to camp. Many boys expect camp to be fun all the time. While your son should expect to have fun, you can tell him that he will at times feel many different emotions: elation at discovering new friends, fear of confronting a new situation, disappointment when a game or project hasn’t gone well, and even sadness to leave friends at the end of a session.
Homesickness at summer camp may affect any boy, especially if your son is young or living away from home for the first time. Homesickness is neither a dislike of camp nor evidence of camper maladjustment; it is a normal emotional reaction. Discussing this with your son and letting him know that homesickness is a common feeling will make it easier to deal with should it occur. If it does, the most appropriate action is to let your son stay at camp except in extremely unusual cases. Our camp staff members are trained to work with homesick boys and within a day or two most boys have completely recovered.
If you receive a letter that is less than positive at the beginning of camp, don’t worry too much – homesickness is usually over by the time the letter reaches home. In your letters to camp, it may be helpful to ask about experiences at camp rather than to dwell on happenings at home. Try to put your own feelings of separation into proper perspective and then write your son an encouraging response.
Express your confidence in your son’s ability to cope and reinforce that the staff is there to help. Furthermore, it is usually a good idea to avoid referencing how much you will miss your son, and it helps if parents avoid talking about what they will be doing while their son is away. If you receive a letter that is cause for concern, don’t hesitate to notify us by phone. Since gaining independence from family is a developmental task that all must face at some point or other, camp can be a positive step in the life of a camper.
In 2005 Hank Birdsong published an article on homesickness.