As a first year camper at Half Moon, or maybe even returning camper, many children will have to face the difficulties of homesickness. Being homesick is not abnormal, nor is it incurable. In fact, according to author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, 97 percent of children experience at least some occasional homesick feelings at summer camp in Massachusetts. So, with this statistic in mind, it is important to understand how to handle your child’s homesickness, and the best ways to help them move forward and enjoy their Camp Half Moon experience.
Most importantly, try to prevent homesickness at all. The best way to go about doing so is to set up a support network for campers before the summer begins. Introduce your child to old campers or workers that you can rely on and trust. These people will help them to feel a connection with someone within their camp community and will eliminate the “I need Mommy” feelings.
Also, try to send a lot of letters and care packages. Half Moon campers are constantly receiving tons of mail, and love the thrill of getting letters! Do not over do it by sending one every day, for this will get your camper overly attached to you. Send just enough letters and packages so that your child feels your support and is connected to you in a happy way. Remember also that constant updates on the events occurring at home may leave them feeling left out. Try to ask a lot about what fun they are having.
Next, use the Camp Half Moon website (camphalfmoon.com) to your advantage. Print pictures that your child is in and enclose them in the letters. Put fun captions underneath that say things like “This looks great!” “Im jealous” or “what fun!” These notes will remind them of the good times they are having when they are not missing home. You can also remind them of this by distracting them from the homesickness. Every time they bring up negative thoughts on camp, change the topic. Only discussing the fun times will help them to realize all they could be participating in. "Camp is like life," said one camper on an open forum, "The more you get involved, the more you'll get out of it."
Handling homesickness is a battle every parent will have to face. By setting your child up for success and ensuring constant engagement in fun activities, you can prevent and eliminate their desires to come home, and kick off their amazing summers! Do not forget to be understanding, but more importantly, show them how wrong they truly are. Who wouldn’t want to live at Massachusetts summer camp all year round?