How to beat the sleepaway camp blues - Metro US

How to beat the sleepaway camp blues


Campfire songs, faded friendship bracelets and swimming in the lake — summer camp memories are the stuff of legends. It’s no surprise little ones all over the region are anxiously awaiting their first time away from mom and dad. Despite their initial excitement, that first separation can be tough on both parents and kids.

Local overnight camp experts gave us their best tips for coping with sleepaway camp blues:

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Plan practice time away from home:Spend practice time away from home before camp; perhaps at a friend or grandparent’s house. This is just as valuable for parents as it is campers; parents are often more nervous about camp than the kids.– Tracy Power, Director of Appel Farm Arts Camp

Do your homework together:Research the camp, communicate with camp staff and ask questions and involve the child in the decision-making and preparation process. By getting everyone on board, campers and camp parents should feel confident and happy about their choice. – Justin Lavner, Director of Lavner Camps

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Live by your calendar:Make a calendar and mark the days you’ll be at camp. Once kids see that camp won’t last forever, it will be easy to make the most of their time there (and it gives anxious parents a countdown to look forward to). – Tracy Power

Be positive (even if you’re nervous):If parents says in front of the child, “I’m not sure they can be away from home that long,” or “don’t worry, if you are homesick I will come get you,” then the child starts believing camp will be too hard for them. It is vital that parents talk positively about camp with their children, helping them to be excited rather than scared. – Tracy Power

Stick it out:Ninety-five percent of children report feeling homesick at camp. It’s normal. There is nothing quite like the feeling of overcoming something you did not think you were capable of, and overcoming homesickness at camp does this for children. It builds confidence, coping skills, and independence. – Tracy Power

Be flexible:We have had very homesick kids go home for a night and come back the next morning. One extreme case saw a child turn into a day camper. They did everything but sleep at camp. They came back the following year and were just fine. They just needed time.– Claudia Carlson, Director of Young People’s Theatre Workshop

Plan activities for you as a parent:Plan to be busy the first night of camp. Go on a date, have dinner with friends, do something to keep your mind active and not driving yourself crazy with worry.– Travis Simmons, Executive Director of Camp Dark Waters

Ban separation guilt:Camp will not always be smooth sailing. There will be times where your child is challenged, or gets their feelings hurt, but as researcher and writer Brene Brown says, “What makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.” Sending your child to camp is showing them love by allowing them the chance to dare greatly on their own. – Tracy Power

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