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Children can feel homesick and be happy at camp

Camps are also doing more this year to meet the emotional needs of children after the pandemic, said Jennifer Wolff, a New York-based writer who ran a camp newsletter called Campenings. Ms Wolff said the camps she monitors all ask more questions than before the pandemic about children’s emotional state on their admission forms. “More and more camps are setting up virtual therapy appointments for their campers than ever before,” she said, so children who are already seeing therapists don’t have to. to lose this structure when they leave the house.

Prepare your child and yourself. Many camps have elaborate websites, often with videos, that can give your kids an idea of ​​what a typical day might look like. Having your child browse the website with you, or take a virtual or in-person tour, can help prepare them, said Dr Heard-Garris – you can get them excited about the types of activities that are happening. ‘they love it, whether it’s swimming, science or football. Dr Heard-Garris also suggested that reading camp books can help kids prepare for what’s to come. (Brightly has a list of teen and tween camp novels.)

If you’re concerned about Covid protocols, familiarize yourself with the CDC’s recommendations and ask camp directors plenty of questions to find out if they have the capacity and space to implement these recommendations, Dr Heard said. -Garris.

Creating rituals around the camp experience can also be calming, Dr. Thompson found. He told me an anecdote about a girl who liked the camp, but who would be very anxious during the long drive to Vermont. His family used to stop three times to eat ice cream – it was “totem ice cream,” he said. The ice cream symbolized that “they were going to rely on special love as she took that courageous step away from them.” Even when she went to camp as a counselor in her twenties, she made all three stops.

I did something similar when my oldest daughter had separation anxiety in kindergarten. I bought her a fuzzy keychain and told her that every time she rubbed the keychain I thought of her.

Try a try. Research has shown that children who have more experience with time away from home may feel less homesick. So if this is your kid’s first year at Sleepaway Camp, try experimenting a few days away from home before camp starts. Since sleepovers at friends’ homes have been cut back during the pandemic, you could try a weekend at a vaccinated grandparent, Dr Thompson said. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report on the Prevention and Treatment of Homesickness, “Ideally, these two or three days do not include phone calls, but include the ability to write a letter or card. home mailing. ” After your child gets home, ask if he is homesick and, if so, what strategies have helped him feel better.

The trial run is also for you, if you are worried about your child going away. This mini-exposure therapy “will remind you of what it feels like to be alone in your home,” said Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine. She recommends acknowledging your fears, because “no rumination will give you a sense of peace or certainty. Because it’s just not the ball game we’re living in right now, so you can’t expect that, ”she said. Try to find ways to distract yourself while your child is away, doing whatever activities you like; As our cities open up, it can be a night out with friends or as a couple.

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