Should I Bring My Homesick Child Home from Sleepaway Camp?

By GalTime Teen Parenting Expert, Barbara Greenberg, PhD

Sleep-Away CampSleep-Away Camp

As the school year ends and parents are getting ready for their kids' summer plans, many are already grappling with worries.

One of the most frequent binds parents find themselves in is whether or not to rescue their homesick kids from sleepaway camp. This year, I would like to address the issue before the season and confusion kick in so that parents feel somewhat prepared for the inevitable.

Perhaps, this is your child's first summer at sleepaway camp and you are scared that she may hate it and want to come home. You may have this concern even if your child begged to go. I remember when my daughter first wanted to go to sleepaway camp.

Related: Are Your Kids Ready for Sleep-Away Camp?

She was eleven years old. In my usual mother-like fashion I went to visit camps, watched videos, and got references. At one point, my always insightful little girl said to me- "Mom, please let me go. I'll be okay."

I will never forget this. Here was a little girl who was no doubt trying to reassure both herself and her mother. This is one of her qualities that has always been so endearing. I know. I sound like a smitten mother. Well, in fact I am, always have been, and always will be.

So, imagine my surprise when my daughter made her second phone call home during week two and asked for me to bring her home. She told me that it had been raining for a week; she was bored; and she missed home.

Panic set in. I felt my heart beat accelerate and my head get hot. What, I thought, were these people doing to my daughter and why weren't they taking good care of her? Listen, I thought, I entrusted my best creation to you and you are not making sure that she is happy? What gives?

I chatted with my daughter for the remaining ten minutes of the 15 minute phone call and she began to veer off course. She started to tell me about some fun things that had happened with her new friends, about how funny her counselors were, and about how good the pizza was in town.

Related: Top Tips for Easing Homesickness

For several minutes, she forgot about the homesickness. Hmm, I thought, this is interesting. Believe me, I remember these details very clearly. Two minutes left to the phone call and my girl brings up the homesickness.

I was quick on my feet here. I told her that we would talk about this again next week and if she was still unhappy we would talk about what to do.

Next week's phone call was going to begin again in five minutes. I had been walking on pins and needles for a walk and,of course, I had not slept well.

Like all other parents, when there is any indication that my child might be unhappy I worry,get preoccupied, and nothing else in life seems that important. In this case, though, the phone call was a success.

My daughter forgot that she was homesick a week before and I certainly didn't remind her. Instead, she chatted away and reminded me what to send her and what to bring during parents' weekend. Boy, was I relieved.

Related: 5 Little White Lies Moms Tell About their Kids

I realize, though, that every situation presents different dilemmas. In anticipation of these homesick phone calls I present you with five things to think about before bringing your kids home:

1. Don't immediately panic. Some initial homesickness is to be expected.

2. Try to buy time. Tell your child to give it a little more time and then you'll revisit. In the meantime, your child may settle in comfortably.

3. If you are worried, then get feedback from the camp staff about how your child seems to be doing.

4. Keep in mind, that homesickness is contagious and all of the kids in the bunk may gradually move from homesickness to happiness.

5. If your child is telling you something that is very troubling then by all means assess the situation and consider whether or not bringing your child home is the best option.

Good Luck and let us know how this goes for you and your children.

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