This past March many of our staff members attended the regional American Camp Association conference. Below is what returning staff member, Jonathan Ferrini, learned about homesickness at the conference. Learn more about Jon and the other summer ministry team members on the Staff Bio Page.
As the temperature gets warmer and the snow is finally long gone, I can’t help but start to get excited for this summer at Lakeside. A small group of us were able to attend the American Camp Association New England Conference in March and while in small ways, we were able to share our ideas, many other speakers and camps shared their ideas with us and we were able to learn a lot. One of the most interesting things that I learned about was homesickness.
Homesickness may not seem very interesting of a topic but it is something everyone should and does feel at least one point in our live. The matter of homesickness is not making it go away but rather overcoming it. Overcoming homesickness shows growth in both independence and maturity. Throughout my years at Lakeside, I have seen many campers get homesick but they are not always for the same reasons. I can still remember when I would lie in bed on Sunday nights, unable to sleep with a mixture of excitement of the week ahead and still partially missing home. Those who deal with homesickness or are afraid that they will feel homesick need to be aware that everyone feels that way but that does not mean that that feeling needs to defeat them. Whatever is the source behind the homesickness will not go away but being able to pull through is an important characteristic. Some kids are more than happy to get away from home for a week or two in the summer but others are very cautious about leaving the comfort of their own bed at night. While surely parents will miss their children, they are also proud of their child growing up in this way. While homesickness is usually viewed as a bad thing, parents, campers, and staff need to realize that it is a stepping stone unto something greater. While Lakeside does not encourage someone to wallow in homesickness, we do not ignore it but rather encourage kids to overcome it.
While every camper deals with homesickness at some point in their camping career, each case is treated differently as each person is different. There is no “fix-all” for someone feeling homesick, but a lot of the work can be done to help with homesickness before the child even leaves the house. A child that knows they have everyone behind them, even when they doubt their own capabilities, will be able to pull through. A child that thinks their parent would want them to come home early will have a much harder time pulling through. On the other hand, a child that knows their parents are proud of them growing up will feel more encouraged to pull through their original doubt. Something as simple as telling a child they can make it through a week can help build their confidence for years to come as well as help their growth physically and spiritually.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)