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Planning a Christian camp is always exciting. As you’re putting together all the pieces of what is sure to be a great week, it’s easy to expect that your campers will be just as enthusiastic. It’s easy to act like this event will be the most groundbreaking program on earth. After all, you planned it; you should know.
But one thing that you absolutely cannot overlook is this: your age group. At your camp, there will likely be children of all ages, which is important to remember when you’re preparing. One of the biggest things to consider is homesickness; it happens to everyone, especially young campers. So how, exactly, do you handle it?
Give them a little piece of home
There is no way to completely appease homesickness. Obviously, you can’t just bring ‘home’ to camp. But you may be able to bring enough pieces that the kids feel the same warmth and comfort as they do at home. Often, those pieces are people. If the child is around his or her friends and family, he or she is more likely to feel at ease.
Maybe he or she has a favorite stuffed animal or toy. Perhaps he or she has a favorite food or a favorite song that they like to sing. Even simple things such as these may be a temporary fix to the nightmare that homesickness can be.
Give them a fun distraction
If you can’t eliminate homesickness, the best thing to do is push it under the rug until the child forgets that they were ever homesick. Homesickness, as opposed to a long-term feeling of loneliness, can come in bursts- not always, but sometimes. When this happens, distraction works best.
Your camp probably has enough fun activities and events going on that finding a good distraction shouldn’t be hard. Encourage the kid to get excited for these activities and engage in them, so that the burst of sadness they once felt is completely eclipsed.
Positivity is key. When trying to talk to the children about their homesickness, always try to look on the bright side and encourage them to do the same. For example, if you’re homesick, that simply means that there is something at home worth missing. It means that life at home is good, and that’s something to be thankful for.
Encourage the kid to try and think of all the good things at camp that they will miss when they go home. If all goes well, they will begin to make the most of their time instead of spending it thinking about somewhere else. They will begin to appreciate the same things you do about your camp, and that bitter feeling homesickness will soon subside.