Camp Quinebarge, founded in 1936, carries the same values today that it was founded over 85 years ago. Experiential learning, making memories and friendships, trying new things in a safe and inclusive community are the cornerstones of what we do and what we have always done. At Quinebarge we know from experience that families that prepare their children with the tools to be successful end up with happier, more thriving campers. With all our years of youth development at Camp Quinebarge, we have learned some tried and true tips that will increase success at overnight camp and help eliminate or reduce homesickness for first time campers.
- Involve your child in the decision to attend camp. Look at the camp website and video, and talk about the camp activities that match your child’s interest and abilities.
- Discuss the length of stay with your camper, so they know what to expect. Some campers might be ready for a 4 or 8 week stay, while others might need to start with 2 weeks to help them settle into a summer camp routine.
- Follow the camp on social media, and share photos with your camper to help them become familiar with the look and feel of camp.
- Short stays away from parents can help – kids who have attended day camps or have had sleepovers at a friend’s house tend to be more successful at overnight residential camp. Giving them positive experiences away from home helps campers be more confident in their independence.
- Set realistic expectations with your camper. Do not promise phone calls home, or make any deals about picking kids up. Kids will fixate on this and have trouble focusing on having fun! At Camp Quinebarge we do weekly phone calls with campers, giving them a chance to settle in and get used to the camp routine. This allows them to be engaged with the camp program and not dwelling on what they are missing out at home.
- If a child seems anxious before coming to camp, go over with them positive coping strategies they can use once they are at camp. Journal or letter writing, talking to a trusted counselor, or engaging in a group activity are just some of the ways to alleviate homesickness!
- Sending physical mail or an email to your child with a positive message can help. If sending snail mail, send it a couple of days ahead of camp so it will be there when they arrive.
- Allow them to be involved with the camp preparations! In many ways, overnight summer camp is about your child gaining independence, so letting them have input into the summer camp supplies can be beneficial to their success. Involving them in the packing will help them feel prepared, and also independent when they arrive to camp and know where their belongings are! Letting your kid take charge in these ways will also allow them to visualize what their camp experience will be like.
Homesickness at Camp
If a child is homesick at camp, counselors will handle it with compassion. Quinebarge staff take several trainings in how to deal and comfort campers who are homesick. Our first priority is to get kids engaged in activities they enjoy and making friends with their cabin mates. Homesickness is common at first, but usually goes away after a day or so.
For severe homesickness, often we will call the parents for consultation. We will make a plan with you on how to move forward in the best interest of your child! Phone calls between campers and parents can be arranged, but are not recommended in the first week of your child’s stay, as they usually increase homesickness. Campers thrive when they know their parents support them during a difficult time, with clear consistent expectations, and positive reinforcement.