Summer Camp: Tips for dealing with homesickness and bullying
My child is begging to leave camp and come home. What do I do?
More than likely, your child is homesick. He or she is just learning how to become more independent and may feel vulnerable at camp. In that instance, reassurance on the phone and strategizing with camp counselors and officials can go a long way. Ways to decrease your child’s fears include:
- Send pictures of home
- Write lots of letters
- Send care packages
If you speak with your child and it becomes evident that there are other factors going on – social difficulties, problem interactions with counselors, inconsolable anxiety, or something else that you can’t quite put your finger on, then a visit to the camp and an in-person assessment of the situation may be required. Younger kids often can’t verbalize just what is the problem and there is no substitute for some in person detective work.
What should children and parents do if there is bullying at camp?
Bullying to some degree is inevitable where kids gather. It’s hardwired for children – perhaps adults as well – to assert dominance when they can, but in the right camp environment aggression can be channeled into sports or other fun activities. Selecting the right type of camp is key. If the focus of the camp is overly competitive then the potential for bullying, in the absence of parental oversight, can increase. Some kids may excel in a competitive environment such as a sports camp, while sending a sensitive, introspective child to that type of camp is probably not a good idea. It’s important to know what type of experience will be the best fit for your child’s personality. If you suspect bullying is occurring, the first step is to talk to talk to your child and hear them out without interrupting. After listening to his or her concerns, go to the camp to speak with the counselors to get more information. Once you have all of the information you can make a decision about how to proceed.