Summer Camp provides children a chance to learn independence while having fun and making new friends. It also is a place for kids to learn to adjust to a new place, all on their own. We have a special name for adjustment at camp; homesickness. Everyone, from staff to kids, has to adjust to living at camp. New place, new people, new schedule. For many, Camp Sabra is the longest they have ever been away from home alone.
What can you do to help your child get the most out of summer camp? According to the Summer Camp Handbook, parents can prepare their children to help them make the most out of their Sabra summer adventure.
1. Let your child know that they are not alone and that almost everyone at camp experiences homesickness in some way, but each person shows it in a different way (stomach ache, tears, etc). Talk about how this Sabra adventure is worth it.
2. Keep in touch. Write your child a letter before camp starts so that they will get it on the first full day of camp as a little note of encouragement. Write often – talk about all the things you hope they are doing. Talk about the things they were excited about. Stay away from “I miss you” and “Fido misses you.”
3. Give your child complete confidence in the camp experience. Let them know that you’ll miss them but that they will have fun. Talk about what they are excited to do, what they can do at camp that they can’t do at home, and that it is okay to be a little sad, but to stay busy! Do not offer to pick them up early if they do not like it, because then it will become a focus of theirs.
4. Make sure your child knows going to summer camp is a fun choice that he or she has made so your child does not feel as though he or she is being shipped away from home.
5. Ask your child what they will miss most about home. This can be a rewarding exercise as a parent because you will get a better understanding of what they appreciate most. If it is your home cooking, promise to make his or her favorite dinner before they leave, or if it is the family pet, get a similar stuffed animal. Coping with the homesick experience before the child even leaves will leave them better equipped to handle it during their stay at camp.
6. Help your child to reframe the way that they think about time. Point out the number of days by marking it on a calendar and then help them remember an event that was roughly the same amount of time like a family vacation or a school break. By helping them remember a similar amount of time that felt very short because they were having fun, it can help the child to be excited for camp instead of thinking about how long they will be away.
After your child gets over the initial hurdle of experiencing summer camp for the first time and all of the emotions that come with it, he or she will realize that camp is the best part of the summer! Your child will make friends for a lifetime and look forward to summer at Sabra for years to come.
Your child will go sailing, water skiing, tubing, participate in outdoor sports, theater, camp fires, challenge courses and so much more. Camp Sabra is accredited by the American Camping Association to meet the highest standards of health and safety. We will see your child at Sabra where he or she will have a summer of fun and make a lifetime of memories!