Navigating Homesickness: How Adolescents Can Seek Support During Summer Camp

Leaving home to go off to camp can be an exciting adventure. However, it’s normal for many adolescents to experience feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and homesickness. Navigating feelings of homesickness involves a combination of camp preparation, concrete strategies to use in the moment, as well as meaningful support. Read on for tips from a women’s therapist on how to combat homesickness and how adolescents can seek support during summer camp.

A large row of colorful kayaks at a summer camp. If your teen is heading to summer camp in NYC, discover these strategies for managing homesickness. Learn more in therapy for women's issues.

Prepare in advance:

To better cope with feelings of homesickness, it’s helpful to manage expectations and engage in pre-camp preparation.

  • Discuss in detail what camp will be like. Often the unknowns and uncertainties surrounding camp can evoke future homesickness. Prepare in advance by discussing what camp will be like, activities at camp, and what a typical day will look like.
  • Visit camp in advance. If it’s an option, try visiting camp or attending a rookie day. Allow your adolescent to become more familiar with the environment and take a tour around the camp.
  • Schedule and discuss what communication will be like. Create an agreed-upon plan for calls home and letters/packages. When a child has clear expectations about connecting, this can ease worries and pre-camp jitters.
  • Meet up with bunkmates prior to camp. Ask the camp about connecting your adolescent with bunkmates as well as older campers. Getting to know who your bunkmates are in advance helps build a sense of comfort and ease prior to leaving for camp.

Strategies at camp:

  • Bring any personal items from home that are comforting and remind you of home. Whether it’s your favorite blanket or photos of your family, these can be helpful reminders of your loved ones when you’re feeling homesick.
  • Express your feelings. Whether it’s with a camp counselor or a camp “big sister” encourage your adolescent to talk to others about how they’re feeling. Keeping those feelings bottled up inside can become overwhelming and incredibly isolating.
  • Encourage your child to set up a “homesick period”. If your adolescent is struggling with feelings of homesickness, encourage them to set aside 20 minutes a day when to be homesick. Although it might sound counterintuitive, this technique is designed to help your child reduce the amount of time spent feeling homesick. Rather than worrying or feeling sad throughout the day, you designate a small part of the day to worry and feel homesick. An evening time is ideal for a homesick period. Scheduling your homesick time for later in the day lets your child accumulate worries and compartmentalize them until this point. Ultimately this helps your adolescent feel less consumed with homesickness during the day and yet still honors their feelings with compassion. Try using a journal to write down all your worries and homesick feelings. Finally, the transition out of the homesick period is important to plan for as well. Make sure there is a fun activity or person to spend time with once the homesick period is up to help transition out of this space.
Two girls sitting in a hammock near a lake at summer camp. This represents how having a support system at camp is helpful for homesickness. Reach out to a women's therapist in NYC, NY to learn more tips.

Post camp reflection

  • Discuss with your child how camp went. Reflect on all the positive experiences and fun times. Address any challenges and brainstorm what necessary changes or strategies they could use for next summer.
  • Explore what was most difficult and work to find solutions for things that are in their control. Encourage your teen to stay in touch or see camp friends throughout the year. Keeping in touch helps you feel more connected and strengthens friendships for the upcoming summer.
  • Reflect and honor your feelings and summer experience. Give your teen the space to explore how camp really felt for them. Sometimes it’s not homesickness, instead it might just be that your child doesn’t love camp, and that’s okay! Hold space for whatever comes up and reassure them that there is nothing wrong with deciding camp isn’t for them. There are plenty of other fun and enriching things to do over the summer.
A pink journal sitting on a white notebook with two colored pencils. Post camp reflection & journal can help manage homesickness. Develop more strategies in therapy for women's issues in NYC, NY.

By following the above strategies, adolescents can learn to better manage their homesickness and enjoy camp. Remember it’s okay to feel homesick and there are plenty of ways to reduce these feelings and make the most of your summer!

The role of a women’s therapist in managing homesickness

Navigating homesickness can be challenging, but with the right support and strategies, your adolescent can thrive at summer camp. If your child is struggling with homesickness or other emotional challenges, professional guidance can make a significant difference. At Liz Yarock Psychotherapy, I specialize in helping adolescents build resilience, manage anxiety, and navigate life’s transitions with confidence.To get started with women’s therapy in NYC, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a consultation today.
  2. Learn more about women’s mental health through my blogs.
  3. Empower your adolescent with the tools they need to face new experiences with confidence and ease.

Other services I offer in New York City, NY

As a women’s therapist in NYC, my goal is to provide a wide range of therapy services to support women’s well-being. Whether you’re seeking anxiety therapy, relationship issues therapy, or life transition therapy, I tailor each session to meet your unique needs using evidence-based techniques and an integrative approach. I also specialize in working with highly sensitive persons, helping them navigate the world with greater resilience and ease.

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I am happy to offer a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation to help you gain a sense of who I am and my approach to therapy in order to determine if we will work well together.