“My daughter was diagnosed in January 2009 and we are still adjusting to the new world of diabetes. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much she needed this camp, not just because of the diabetes, but she needed a week just to be a kid and have fun. Camp Kudzu delivered on the fun and education.”
Quite often first time campers ask, “Can my mom come with me?” As a parent, you might hear, “If I don’t like it, do I have to stay?” It is very common for children to have some anxiety when leaving home. For many, this will be the first time away since diagnosis. Upon arrival, the newness of the camp environment, making new friends, and the natural longing for the “old and familiar” make moments of homesickness happen for a camper. Experience has taught us to expect the symptoms of homesickness to occur over the first few days of camp – often during rest period and/or lights out. That’s why we start each camper’s experience with an activity and then a rousing time at dinner so that new and returning campers feel part of the community. If feelings of homesickness occur, a few conversations with counselors or head staff and the new “routines” of the cabin help to overcome any problems.
Here are some tips to help prepare your child for camp and the possibility of homesickness:
PRIOR TO CAMP:
- Have a positive family attitude.
- “Live out of a suitcase” for a couple of days.
- Practice taking a shower instead of a bath and washing one’s hair.
- Discuss expected camp activities.
- Mark a calendar with days until camp starts- HOORAY!!!
- Give gentle encouragement that missing home is “ok.”
- Go shopping for the things he/she will need at camp.
- Avoid phrases such as “If you stay until Wednesday, then we will come and pick you up.”
- Pack things to go to camp together!!!
- When writing letters to your child, avoid phrases such as “we miss you,” “wish you were here,” or detailed accounts of what siblings and the family are doing. Instead, ask about camp activities, counselors, specific programs, etc.
- Pack “surprises” or notes of encouragement amongst your camper’s belongings.
- Express your confidence in his/her ability to be away from home and explain that the counselors are there to assist them if he/she should need anything as you are departing.