Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life
Keep Your Campers Happy
October 2000 Issue

Growing Up with An Advantage

Keep Your Campers Happy
The first trip to overnight
summer camp

Good Things Grow in Small Spaces
Introducing youngsters
to the pleasures of

Parents Corner
Whatcha doin', Dad?

Did You Know?

School's Out!
A few tips' to keep your
kids out of the
emergency room

Set a good example
for your grandchildren

Mail Bag

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One of childhood's rites of passage, for parents as well as their kids, is the first trip to overnight summer camp. This is a big deal and a big step in growing up, and there are a number of things you can do to help your child enjoy the experience and avoid its biggest bugaboo: homesickness.

Keep a few things in mind in the weeks leading up to departure. First, it’s best not to tell children how much you will miss them. That's a surefire way to create anxiety. Instead, smart parents reassure their children – after all, camp is fun – and mail a few letters before camp begins so they will be there when the kids arrive.

If there is time, take your child to see the camp, inspect the cabins, and find out how things work there. If possible, introduce your child to the camp director and find out if the camp has ...

A homesickness club, so kids don't feel like they are the only ones who miss their parents

Small animals for them to care for and get their minds off the problem

A Big Brother/Big Sister program, or Camp Grandmothers or advisors

If your child has difficulty sleeping over at a friend’s house, for instance, or needs to call home for reassurance, camp homesickness may be an issue. Try a few sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa's house. This lets the child separate in a familiar environment.

Don’t panic if you get a, "I hate camp and want to come home right now!" letter. Instead, send reassuring, supportive letters. Remember, if you can help your children get through this successfully, you've helped them start developing self-confidence.

If worse comes to worst and you have to retrieve your child early, reassurance is more important than ever. A hug and a word of encouragement -- "I'm proud you stayed as long as you did" -- will help relieve any sense of guilt. Don't give up. There's always next year, even if your child promises, "Never again!" Kids learn from everything, and that's a perfect opportunity to say something like, "Never is a long time. Perhaps, one day you will tell me that you are ready to go to camp."

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