Dealing with Homesickness
The American Camping Association posted an article titled “What Parents Want to Know that Camp Counselors Should Know”. The article focuses on five major areas of camp that parents have questions about. I have been walking through each section of ACA’s post and answering the questions for Shepherd’s Fold. The first three posts go over SFR’s Staff Qualifications, Camper Health and Safety, and Communication and Technology with Campers.
Section 4, Part 4:
According to author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, 97 percent of children experience at least some occasional homesick feelings at camp (ACA). In a nutshell, homesickness is normal! Parents – be encouraged! It’s a sign that campers love their homes! 🙂
During staff training, we spend quality time teaching our staff how to handle this common occurrence. Last week I attended a homesickness webinar provided by the American Camping Association. Michael Thompson, PhD, was the presenter of this webinar. After an hour and a half, I was very encouraged that SFR is handling homesickness well! Here’s what we do:
- Pray with the camper and ask the Lord to shower down His peace!
- Talk with the campers, asking questions and intently listening to their answers. This lets them know they are valued by their counselor and cabin mates and it also builds relationships, which makes being away from home more comfortable.
- Encourage the camper that their parents want them to make friends and have fun at camp. We help the camper make a list of all the stories to tell their parents on the car ride home!
- Distract the campers with fun games and activities. This gets their mind off being elsewhere and allows the campers to enjoy where they’re at. More often than not, campers realize that camp is a great place – they make friends, worship the Lord, and get to play awesome games and by the end of camp, they don’t want to leave!
These techniques are quite successful. In the instance that these practices do not work, we will give you (the parent) a call, seeking your wisdom in exciting your camper about camp. We LOVE having campers at camp and we believe there is power in encountering Jesus and making friends in the summer camp setting. That being said, if a camper is absolutely set on going home, to the point that if they are simply miserable because they are missing home and not enjoying games or worship or friends or food, we will inform you (the parent) and it is possible that the camper will go home.
If you have any questions regarding how SFR handles homesickness, please don’t hesitate to email email@example.com or call the office at 918.263.3622.
See you at camp! Register HERE.
Blessings, Hope // Camp Director