HINTS FOR A HAPPY CAMPER
Whether your daughter is a returning camper or is embarking on her first summer away from home, we ask that you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with a few very important ideas that will help you to help your child in her transition from home to camp.
Homesickness comes in all shapes and sizes, and is a very normal part of the initial few days of camp for new and returning girls. It is perfectly normal for children to miss home, parents, siblings, pets, and friends.
Simply put, it is a natural reaction to a camper’s separation from what is familiar.
Once the familiarity of the camp routine has been established in the first few days, feelings of homesickness tend to disappear.
We have many different resources available to help your daughter through any type of difficulty she might have. Helping her prepare for camp and for these potential feelings begins right now.
Here are some important guidelines and hints:
- Healthy discussions with your child prior to camp might include making a calendar (you can put important dates on it ie: Parent’s weekend, birthdays, 4th of July, etc…) to help her visualize the length of her stay at camp. It is also important that she feel confident that you will look after and love any of her pets while she is gone. She needs assurance that when she gets home things will be just as she left them.
- Have a letter waiting for your daughter upon her arrival at camp. A cheerful letter telling her how proud you are of her, and encouraging her to have a wonderful time at camp will help her not to dwell on feelings of sadness or what she might be missing at home.
- We understand that going off to camp can sometimes be more difficult for parents than for the campers themselves. It is important that your daughter feel that you as a parent are also excited for her new adventure. Statements like “I know you’re going to love it” rather than “I hope you like it” will help your daughter to feel safe about the place she is going. Letters should be addressed to your daughter at Camp Fernwood, 48 Camp Fernwood Lane, Poland, Maine 04274. To allow for mail delays, we urge you to mail your letter the week before your daughter leaves for camp.
- Especially for new campers, the first few days can be exhilarating, exhausting, and sometimes a little sad. New parents can expect a check-in call from one of the directors within the first 4-5 days at camp. As always, the directors are available by phone at camp. Please give us a call (during non-meal hours) if you have any specific concerns or questions you’d like to discuss.
- Most importantly, never discuss a “pick-up deal” with your child, ex. “If you don’t like camp you can come home”, or “Just try it and see if you like it”. Your daughter has committed to camp for the summer, and it is important that she understand the significance of commitment and finishing what she has begun. If, at the end of her summer she decides she does not wish to return to camp next year, she will have made an informed decision having accomplished her original goal.
Camp is the best place for your child to learn how to overcome separation anxiety. This skill will serve her well as she matures and encounters other away from home experiences. Should your daughter become homesick, a special friend (one of our directors, a counselor, and/or an older camper) will work with your daughter to help her understand and overcome her feelings of homesickness.