Homesick to Happy

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It’s all part of the process!

By now, you will probably be receiving your first letters home from your sons (unless they’ve been too busy to write!) While we know that many letters will contain fun stories about new activities or friends, we also know that some will share feelings of missing home or feeling upset. We wanted to make a note of encouraging you as parents in case a few have received homesick “snail mail” letters, reflecting boys’ feelings during the first few days of settling in at camp. Now that the boys have been here for a couple of days and camp is still new to them, this can be a time when homesickness could begin to show in some of them. Homesickness is completely normal and we’re prepared to work with each boy, as no situation is the same.

Our counselors are great at working through homesickness with campers, because many of them have felt the same way before! Burt Young was a camper for 5 years before becoming a counselor this summer, and even he had periods of missing home. “I would miss my mom, and I missed the comfortable feeling of being at home in my ‘safe place,’ but it was just part of the process,” Burt shared. “I would cry when I was young sometimes, but by the final campfire I was crying for the opposite reason, because I had made camp my home.” As a counselor Burt has really opened up, giving fun, high-energy announcements that get campers excited about the day! While he was once a much more reserved camper, Falling Creek has become a second home for him over the years, all because he “leaned in” to something just out of his comfort zone.

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"What helped me move past homesickness was allowing myself to get lost in the experience of camp." Young Dave is pictured above as a camper in 2014 - he's now back for his second year on staff!

Dave Thomas is back for his 2nd year on staff, and was a camper for 7 years. “Oh yeah, I definitely got homesick,” he remembers. “I would be homesick for the first three days, but when my mom told me ‘I’m not coming to get you,’ I thought to myself, ‘I can either be miserable or I can find ways not to be.’ I found activities I liked, made friends, and started having a really good time. What helped me move past homesickness was allowing myself to get lost in the experience of camp,” Dave said. He’s been coming back ever since!

It’s normal for everyone to miss home at some point during their time at camp, and everyone deals with being in a new environment in different ways. Tristan Hall was a camper for 8 years and is back for his 4th year on staff this summer. He didn’t struggle with homesickness often, but when he did start to miss things about home, he would find something to keep him engaged in the moment. “My advice is always to stay occupied,” Tristan shared.

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If you do get a homesick letter in the mail over these next few days, don’t panic. These feelings are common for all campers at some point throughout the session. The challenging times for them can be when things are moving at a slower pace, such as during rest hour or at night. This is also usually when they have the most time to write home!

Parents also can experience the challenge of their son being away from them. Many of the boys have highly scheduled days at home without much opportunity to play freely and make decisions on their own without parental input. This may explain why many parents are feeling more anxious than their sons, since they are not used to them being away.

Your boys are making their own decisions here at camp on what activities they want to take, walking themselves to the classes, signing up for trips, learning new skills, and making friends. These life lessons learned at camp can help in many situations back home where they may be the new boy in school, moving to a new neighborhood, or even later when preparing for college. These experiences can also help with understanding natural consequences (like at camp when you leave your wet bathing suit in your trunk!).

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Please be assured that if your son shows any continuing signs of homesickness, we will be in touch with you. A good rule of thumb typically is that no news from us is good news, and the homesickness usually passes quickly. Getting them doing things is the quickest way to get their mind off of home and distracted by the fun trips and activities. The boys are learning to be independent and resilient, and you are giving them a great opportunity to do that by allowing them to be at camp.

Overall, the boys have been having a great time during this first week, and we’re already looking forward to the fun memories that tomorrow will bring!