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Say 'Aaah' | Kid Health

The Adventure of Camp

May 29, 2000|EMILY DWASS

School is nearly over, and you can't wait to go to sleep-away camp. You've been looking forward to this new experience for months. So why is it when you finally arrive at camp, you feel sad and you actually miss your annoying little brother?

Not to worry. Feeling homesick the first time you're away from your family is normal, according to Dr. David Feinberg, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at UCLA. Most kids who go away to camp miss their families at first. Usually, you feel better as you get into the swing of things and start to enjoy the activities.

If you're worried about being homesick at camp, there are some steps you can take before you go. Feinberg suggests rehearsing for the separation by sleeping over at a friend's or relative's house for a day or two. It's also a good idea to visit the camp and meet your counselors so you know what to expect. Some kids find that going to camp with a friend makes them feel more comfortable.

When you're packing for camp, take along some photos of your family. If you're used to sleeping with a favorite stuffed animal, pack that too.

"Any reminder of home can be very helpful," Feinberg says.

Sending and receiving mail can be a pick-me-up when you're feeling homesick. Before you leave for camp, address postcards to your family and friends. Whenever you miss someone, you can write them a short note. Writing home about your camp experiences can help you feel connected to the people you miss. And make your family promise to write you every day. Care packages from home are also nice, if your camp allows them.

It's all right to admit that you're homesick. Chances are the kids in your cabin miss their families too. Sharing your feelings with them can cheer you up.

Some kids absolutely do not want to go to sleep-away camp, because they know they will be too homesick. If you feel you're not ready for this experience, that's fine. You might change your mind in a year or two. Or you may just want to enjoy other kinds of summer fun.

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Kids and other readers can e-mail Emily Dwass at emilydwass@yahoo.com

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