We know that you are doing your best to ensure your Girl Scout has the support she needs to thrive after a year of isolation or limited interaction with others. Camp is the PERFECT place to help girls reconnect and have fun. But new environments can bring different challenges she may not have experienced. Here are a few helpful tips to prepare your Girl Scout for her time away from home.
What is homesickness?
Homesickness is a real emotional state often triggered by new and unfamiliar environments. Any camper, no matter the age, can feel this sense of longing for what’s comfortable and familiar. Kids who struggle with anxiety, have not been away from home for extended periods of time, have not spent the night away from home within the last few months, and kids who are being told to go to camp despite their hesitations are more likely to experience homesickness.
6 Tips to Preparing your Girl Scout to be Away From Home
1. Paint a picture. Prepare your camper by talking about her upcoming experience. Look at pictures online, talk about the camp property, the friends she will make, explain who a camp counselor is. Think about what she will bring – often packing a few things that comfort her (like a favorite shirt, stuffed animal, family photo, etc.) and reminding her that she can hold/wear these things if she feels homesick, can help normalize feelings and serve as a coping strategy when those feelings arise.
2. Plan a night (or a few) away. Find a time for your child to spend the night with a relative, friend or other safe and trusted environment. Help your child prepare for her overnight by reminding her that whoever she’s staying with can help if she’s feeling hesitant. Encourage your child to openly share her feelings. The goal is to give your camper strategies to cope and manage their feelings and avoid the instinct to call you first.
3. Normalize her feelings. Homesickness is nothing to be ashamed about. Remind your camper the benefits of being away from home –making new friends, learning independence, getting to be outside, trying new things (like riding a horse, swimming, kayaking…whatever their camp session may include). Help her remember it’s okay to want to be at home with her family, but you’ll be there in a few days when camp is over.
4. Write a letter. Campers love to get camp mail. Your camp family guide will include instructions on how to send hand-written and electronic camp mail. Camp mail helps your child feel connected to you. You can also consider giving her a journal to write letters back to you and to express her feelings.
5. Give her something to look forward to. Prepare her to not only go off to camp but consider planning a special incentive as a reward for her courage. Is there a special place you can stop on the way home after picking up your camper to get a treat? What about a stuffed animal or other thing she may be hoping for? A simple “I’m proud of you” or other encouraging words will help her garner the confidence to stick with it and to even try camping again.
6. Prep the camp staff. If your child has specific mental health or learning needs, please let us know by entering them into CampDocs before camp begins. There may be specific things that we need to know so we can help her have the best camp experience. Does she wet the bed? Is she anxious about water? Does she have a hard time in new environments? Let us know how we may be able to help. Also, let your Girl Scout know that her camp counselors are there to support her during her time with us.
Girls Scouts Northeast Texas cares about your child’s mental, physical, and emotional safety. While we do not have licensed mental health clinicians or one-on-one learning aides on staff, our team has been trained on Girl Scout safety protocol for physical and mental health emergencies. They have also been trained to deliver Girl Scout programs that help your child with her social and emotional development.
Need to reach us? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-349-2400.