I am not married and I do not have children. However, during the summer months I come in contact with hundreds of children and their parents through my job at Big Lake. And I have often wondered what it must feel like to be a parent and bring a child, who you love and care for daily, to a new environment in the woods and put them in the care of 100 college students for seven days. I recently read a great book that walks parents through the decision to send your child to camp and how to prepare your child for their week away from home: The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything you need to find, choose, and get ready for overnight camp-and skip the homesickness by Christopher A. Thurber, Ph.D. and Jon C. Malinowski, Ph.D.
In this book, Thurber and Malinowski suggest 13 ways to help your camper avoid homesickness. Three of these really stuck with me:
- “Include your child in camp planning.” Sometimes it makes it easier for children to be excited about camp if they feel they have been actively included in the planning process such as which activity they would like to sign up for, cabin mates, etc.
- “Arrange for practice time away from home.” A week away from mom and dad can seem like an eternity in a child’s mind if they have never been away from home before. A weekend with the grandparents or at a friend’s home may be helpful in preparing your child for their first week away from home.
- “Send your child a letter at camp before the first day.” At Big Lake we get a lot of mail-which is great! Campers love to hear their name at mail-call. Receiving a letter or package during the week sends a message of comfort and love.
Parents hold the most influence in a child’s life. Your attitude towards camp is going to shape your child’s view of their experience. By talking positively about camp you can help jump-start your child’s enthusiasm and outlook of their opportunities at camp to learn new skills and make new friends.
Whether this is your child’s first time away from home or they are veteran campers, the staff at Big Lake Youth Camp are ready to receive your camper with open arms and take the time to ensure your camper’s emotional well-being is a priority. We can’t wait to see you soon!
Summer Headquarters Director