One very important thing is homesickness. After talking to a co-worker about our experiences in summer camp and Girl Scouts we both laughed at how silly it was that we got so terribly homesick while away. One particular moment I was rehashing was a trip to Michigan I took when I was twelve years old. I was having a wonderful time, making new friends and trying new things, but I missed my mama something fierce. I had been to sleepovers and such, but had never been away for more than a few days and here I was 1,200 or more miles from home and phone calls were definitely discouraged. About halfway through the first week I was faced with the very real and non - diminishing fear that I was NEVER going to get home to see my family.
Of course, looking back I see that is nonsense, but at the time I was certain that would be my fate. My mom had complete faith in me and never once mentioned that it might be hard for me to be away that long. Honestly, I am glad she did. Looking back I probably would have second guessed myself if she had given me the chance. The good news is it definitely made me stronger and now I can laugh at how scary it was at the time, but I persevered and gained a love of travelling that is still strong in me today. By the end of the week I was back to having fun and so glad that my parents didn’t give in to my request to be rescued immediately.
I do think it is important to be prepared in case it happens to your child though. Most of the camps Girl Scouts offer are only one week so it is probably not a problem. Here are a few pointers from someone who’s been there to ease some of the anxiety for longer stays away.
· Believe in them. Just like my mom did for me, she knew I could do it even when I didn’t know. Extended trips away may seem daunting, but it is how we learn to be independent and grow.
· Send them with something familiar from home if you can (photos, favorite blanket or pillow, snacks specific to home).
· Write to your child if camp allows it. Most camps do and also discourage phone calls so, that is often the only form of communication. Remind her of all the mundane things that are happening and home and that what she is doing has got to be more exciting.
· Have siblings write to her. Although she may miss them just seeing their words in writing may remind how happy she was to be getting away from them.
· Don’t give in to pleas for rescue. These are typically written in the heat of the moment and then regretted. More than likely if there is a family fun day (visitation day) you will discover that she is in fact having the time of her life.
Happy Camping! -Erin