Life at camp brings new challenges, new activities, and new friends. Leaving all this fun and excitement is often a letdown for children. It doesn’t help that the end of camp may signal the start of school with all its stresses and demands. When camp comes to an end, the blues can often set in — causing some children to be tired, moody, quieter than usual, or even irritable or grumpy. The American Camp Association® (ACA) recommends these tips to help your camp-sick camper:
* Nothing beats a hot shower — Welcome your camper home by helping them relax and adjust to the slower pace of non-camp life. Suggest they take a warm shower and get plenty of rest. Plan to have an “old favorite” for dinner. * Familiar favorites — Have your child reconnect with friends from the neighborhood or school. Encourage play dates and get-togethers to help re-establish a sense of belonging with friends they haven’t seen in a long time. * Contact camp cronies — Allow your child to write, e-mail, or call camp friends. Many camps encourage campers to exchange e-mail and IM addresses with one another. Parents should oversee their child’s online activities and make sure that all camp policies are being followed. * This one time, at camp… — Be open and available to talk about camp. Allowing your children to reflect on their friends, their favorite moment at camp, and what they miss most about camp will help. * It’s not too soon for a camp reunion — Organize a small “reunion” of more local camp friends can help reassure your child that though his or her friends are out of sight, they are not out of mind!
Not all children show signs of camp-sickness, but if your child does, just remember that they miss camp because it is a safe, supportive, nurturing environment. It’s normal and natural for children to miss the close relationships developed at camp. Families can help ease any sadness by being supportive and understanding — and helping their camper remember that next summer is not that far away.