For some people, 9 weeks at camp is quite a long time to be away from home, especially if it’s your first time being gone for so long, so it’s pretty normal to get a little homesick at times.
That’s right, I said it. Homesickness is not just for the kids. And that’s ok. Maybe it’s your mum’s birthday and your whole family is getting together for a party without you. Maybe your best friends are spending the weekend together and you keep seeing photos of them all having a great time. Maybe you’ve had a super stressful day at camp – your kids are being rowdy, you bashed your foot on a rock, your sleeping bag got wet and now there’s a queue for the phone phone to call home. Or maybe you just miss your dog. Whatever the reason, we all get a little homesick now and again while we’re at camp. But what can you do about it so you can get back to having the best summer ever?
1. Throw yourself into absolutely everything with 110% effort & enthusiasm. Try to put your worries aside for the day and just really get into everything camp has to offer. Be excited, be fun and loud. Get down to your kids’ level, see everything the way they do – they’re the best thing about summer camp, so use them. Do everything as if you were doing it for the first time. If it’s sunny, roll up your sleeves and enjoy it, if it’s raining, go dance in that wet stuff! Sing, chant, chat, laugh – it’s summer camp so almost anything goes.
2. Talk to your friends at camp – they have probably felt the same way at some point too. Your best source of help at camp are your friends and fellow counselors. Remember that they’re going through it all too, exactly the same as you, so they most likely have quite similar feelings. Tell someone that you’re missing home, talk to them about your family, ask them about theirs, cry if you want to, they will understand.
3. Plan a time with your family when you know you’re going to be free (maybe on your day off) to skype home. Having something to look forward to when you’re feeling a little bit blue is always a great pick me up, and having a set plan in place will avoid the disappointment of trying to catch each other at random times.
4. Spend more time with your kids. I know this one sounds a big mad. How could you possibly spend MORE time with them than you already do? But I promise you it’s possible, even if it just means being more present when you’re with them. Talk to them about anything and everything. Ask them ridiculous questions as you eat your lunch together, make up stories and games during rest hour, gather them together at recess and come up with a brand new dance routine, or just chat to them for a little bit longer before bed. It’s amazing the perspective your kids can give you, and how much better they can make you feel just by being themselves and making you laugh.
5. Eat healthy(er) foods, exercise and sleep. We all know that sugary foods give a great boost of energy but then bring you crashing down to earth when that sugar runs out, probably making you feel even worse and more lethargic than you did before. So try to eat a balanced meal, get some green stuff on your plate and go for fruit as a snack instead of candy. Get up early and go for a swim or a run or just do some form of exercise where you can let your mind be free and use those endorphins as a boost for the rest of the day. And finally. Go to bed. Missing home is always worse at night, just ask your kids. It’s when you’re exhausted that everything feels terrible. So for even just one night a week, don’t go to the staff lodge, don’t spend 4 hours in the bathroom chatting (does this only happen in girls camp?), just go to sleep. Go to sleep when your kids do…it’s amazing what 8+ hours of sleep can do.
6. Do something new. I know that a lot of things are going to be new to you at summer camp, but sometimes doing something in particular that is so far out of your comfort zone can be a massive rush and give a real sense of accomplishment – making you feel like the happy and excited person you were before the homesickness set it. Get someone to give a your riding lesson, climb to the top of the climbing wall, canoe across the lake, jump off a waterfall, hike up a mountain – at summer camp the options are pretty endless.
7. Play with some animals. This one sort of depends on your camp – some summer camps have little farms, with a whole host of different animals to love and take care of. If you’re at one of these camps then well, I’m very jealous. Animals are the greatest stress relievers – did you know that some universities bring in puppies for students to play with during exam time? So if you have any animals on camp, go cuddle them.