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Homesickness:How Can We Prevent It? Getting a child ready for an overnight camp experience can be a challenge. Start preparing child now for next summer. Here are some ways to begin:

-Try sleep-overs at a grandparent's house. This is a great way to separate while maintaining a familiar environment the child who has difficulty sleeping over at friends' houses and needs to call home often isn't prepared for overnight camp.

-Encourage your child with a chart which monitors successful overnights. With a chart, your child can see him/herself climbing the ladder of readiness.

-Involve your child in the camp search process.

-Take your child to see a few camps. Cautious children especially need to know:

What a bunk looks like and where they will sleep, put their clothes, who else will be in the bunk (usually 8 kids /2 counselors).

Where the bathrooms are (in or out) and who will take them during the night. What happens if they are sick? Is there a Dr. or nurse? Where is the infirmary? What they do in a rec hall?

Where the dining room is located and how they get their food?

-If child is into sports make sure to see the ball fields.

-If child is a water person visit the waterfront.

-If child's top priority is the arts go to the craft shops, watch a rehearsal, etc.

-Ask questions about how camp director handles homesickness.
    Some camps have a homesickness club
    Some have small animals for whom a child is responsible
    Others have Big brother/Big sister programs or Camp Grandmothers or advisors

Activities are important, but it is more important that your child feels comfortable with the camp he has visited. THE CAMP DIRECTOR IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING. Will your child feel that he/she is a caring away-from-home parent?

Once a camp has been chosen and before the child goes off to camp: Reassure your child

- "Yes you can succeed and have a wonderfiil experience"...

- NEVER discuss how much you will miss him/her.

- Let him/her know it will be an adjustment for whole family but it is worthwhile experience and part of growing up.

- Write and send letters before camp begins so child will have them when they arrive but DON'T talk about fun things that he/she has missed.

Send your child to overnight camp only when he or she is ready, not when cousins or friends are ready. THERE IS NO RIGHT AGE.

If your child sends letters saying "I hate camp. I cried last night. I can't sleep at night," DON'T PANIC.

-Send reassuring, supportive letters and speak to director.

-Do not inadvertently use the telephone as an umbilical cord to hold to your child allow them to separate and succeed.

-Speak with your child and reinforce the positive aspects of camp.

If all efforts fail, take your child home, but never make a child feel guilty. Say, "I'm proud you stayed as long as you did".

When child says "Never again," while you're hugging him/her quietly say "Never is a long time. Perhaps, one day you will tell me that you are ready to go to camp!"

Success is built on success. Let us work together help your child succeed at the wonderful experience that is overnight camp.