A recent study by the American Camp Association reported that nearly 96% of all boys and girls spending two weeks or more at overnight camps reported some homesickness on at least one day. Homesickness is not just common, it’s nearly universal, and it is also a rare opportunity for growth. A wonderful home deserves to be missed.
But we are also made to engage the world we live in and to not be afraid to move toward opportunity, even when it means leaving behind things that are more familiar. A great camp for girls provides a safe and controlled environment to begin the adventure of healthy independence.
Homesickness is most acutely felt when campers have the least to do, which is of course the exact moment that they are able to write home! If you do get a sad letter please respond by doing two things quickly. First, write them an email letting them know that you understand they miss home but that you are also proud of them for their growth at camp. Next, please call us and let us know. Chances are that we will be aware that they have missed home, but we can also let you speak with their counselors and give you more information.
The fastest way for a camper to remain homesick is for you to say you will come get them if they remain homesick. It’s a circular promise that builds momentum in a camper’s planning so that they then find it very difficult to become a camper.
Parents make “the promise” for a number of reasons, but it is often because they are as concerned about time away from their camper as their camper is about time away from home. Just like our children need to develop a sense of adventurous independence, we as parents sometimes need to be stretched a little too. If this is true of you it’s okay, you’re in good company. Instead of giving your camper “the promise” give us a call and let us give you details about how they are doing.
Merri-Mac’s overall return rate is extremely high, but we believe the return rate of campers who struggle with homesickness is even higher. We believe it is higher because these are the children who grew tremendously, who committed to something that was a little more of a stretch for them and who were in the end richly rewarded and then profoundly proud of themselves. We are proud of them too, and we tell them every year they return.
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