Dealing with Homesickness at Summer Camp

Published on: December 1, 2022

Summer camp can be nerve-wracking for parents who worry about their kids having homesickness. And we get it — it seems natural that your child would experience homesickness at overnight camp because it’s such a huge transition from everyday life. But luckily, cases of prolonged homesickness at summer camp are rare and if it’s your child’s tender age you’re worried about, you can rest easy knowing that younger campers are homesick at camp less frequently than older kids owing to their ability to adapt to new situations more easily. No matter their age, however, your child might miss home for a moment, and if they do, know that the camp and the staff are set up to deal with it like pros.

Helping your child overcome homesickness at camp actually starts while they’re still at home. In the weeks leading up to camp, it’s helpful to speak enthusiastically about your child’s upcoming adventure and to avoid even mentioning homesickness as a possibility, unless your child brings it up. In that case, recognize their feelings by telling them you understand that being away from home can be tough, but at the same time, let them know you think they’re up for the challenge. At this point you can also brainstorm with your child about what might make them feel better if they do start to miss home while they’re away, and maybe add a soothing personal item or two to their bag.

At Muskoka Woods we are ready with a number of strategies to help alleviate the homesickness of our guests. We have partnered with Bunk1 to offer parents the opportunity to access a private photo gallery and to send one-way e-mails or, “bunk notes,” to their children. Messages are printed and delivered to guests each day and are a great way to help you and your child feel connected even while you’re apart.

Counsellors will also always accommodate a visit between siblings who are here at Muskoka Woods together, but in different age groups. Even a short visit can really help if one child is missing the familiar faces of home. Parents also have the option of sending our much-loved Mid-Week Care Package to let your child know you’re thinking of them, though it will most likely arrive after your child’s bout of homesickness has abated because most guests are homesick for only one or two days before really getting into the groove of camp life.

And finally, the attentive counsellors at Muskoka Woods are specially trained to swoop in at those times when kids might be missing their parents the most, including meal times and bedtime. They are always ready with an arsenal of tricks to keep guests focussed on the fun parts of camp, whether by providing a game or activity to your child, by introducing a whole-cabin activity, or by simply being present and lending a sympathetic ear.

Homesickness can strike even the most outgoing kid during the first few days of camp but between encouragement from parents and the whole staff at Muskoka Woods rallying around them, they’ll soon be racing down the Kraken with a huge smile on their face — and their longing for home a thing of the past.

About the Author

Paul Cade has been a part of Muskoka Woods since his first summer as guest in 1996. He spent time working in the kitchen, on Water Ski Staff, as the General Athletics Area Head, as a Staff Coach and an Athletic Director for three years. Paul graduated with a Recreation and Leisure Studies diploma at Humber College and was a recent graduate of the Arrow Leadership program. He has been overseeing the Muskoka Woods Summer Camp since 2016 and prior to that he spent 6 years working as a full-time youth pastor in Oakville and Ajax. Paul has a passion for developing young leaders for today and the future. Paul met the love of his life Victoria at Muskoka Woods in 2006. They are married with three young children.

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