Experts will tell you it’s normal for children going away to summer camp for the first time to be a little scared. It is even common for them to be homesick. If your child is having pre-camp jitters, here’s how to talk to your kids about homesickness.

  • Explain to your children that you won’t come get them unless there’s an emergency or unless it’s the end of the session. While it may be normal for children to be homesick, as well as for parents to get kid-sick, they need to stay the course.
  • Cell phones aren’t allowed at most, if not all summer camps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t send letters or postcards while your child is away. They may also be allowed telephone privileges once or twice while they’re at camp, but even then don’t let your child talk you into coming to pick them up.
  • If you do talk with your child, don’t mention how much you miss them or give them bad news. Ask them about what they’re doing, if they’ve made new friends, and what their favorite part of camp is.
  • Reassure them other children are probably feeling the same way, especially if they’ve never been away to camp before. Knowing they’re not the only one to get homesick will help them feel less like they’re being a baby.
  • Ask your child what is giving them the jitters. Some children worry about being away from friends and family. If they are very attached to their pets, this may be another reason they’re having second thoughts. Listen to their concerns and see if you can find a plan to deal with those issues.
  • Take out any literature you may have or visit the camp’s website to remind your child about why you chose this camp, how excited they were about going, and all the activities they were looking forward to doing.
  • Suggest they talk to friends who have been away at camp. They may have ideas to help your child cope with homesickness that worked for them.
  • Think back to an occasion where you felt homesick as a child. Tell them about how you felt but explain that you soon overcame your homesickness because you had such a great time.
  • Reassure them that no matter how far apart you are from the rest of the family, you love them, you’re proud of them, and summer camp will be over before they know it.

Before you drop your child off at summer camp, talk with their counselor or camp director. Ask them what their procedure is for children that are very homesick. They will be able to determine if your child is homesick enough to warrant a call to you or not.

If you’ve prepared your child by using the ideas above, they probably won’t be as homesick as they think they’ll be. It’s not uncommon for children to have pre-camp jitters, but knowing how to talk to your kids about homesickness may make the jitters go away.