By Christl Dabu, Our Kids The Summer Camp Guide 2012
Often, all homesick campers need is a little help from their camp friends.
With the goal of encouraging children to be self-sufficient and independent, camps are experts at helping kids deal with homesickness.
"Camps know how to welcome and integrate new campers successfully," writes Catherine Ross, who was the director of Camp Mi-A-Kon-Da for 20 years, in the Our Kids Preparing for Camp e-book (available for free at
While overnight camp means adjusting to being away from home, most new campers actually never experience homesickness and prolonged homesickness is rare, Ross points out.
"Children are more adaptable, capable and resilient than we sometimes expect," she says.
Whether or not homesickness strikes, camp staff ensure a smooth transition for new campers right from the start. Orientation and a guided tour help children become familiar and comfortable with the camp.
If a camper is homesick, the director and the entire staff are made aware of the situation so that everyone can be supportive and encouraging.
The counsellors are not only friends but also patient and sympathetic mentors. "They know that the best medicine is to keep their camper busy, urge them to cope with one day at a time and reassure them that others have experienced what they are feeling, but they soon recovered," Ross explains.
At Camp Mariste, an overnight camp in Rawdon, Que., campers are encouraged to write a letter to their parents so they have a link to home. "Mostly, we encourage them to participate in activities," says counsellor Alicia Quintard. "When they're having fun, they're less homesick."
- With a file by Sharon Aschaiek