May 14, 2021
For nearly thirty-five years, Michael Thompson, Ph.D. has worked as a clinical psychologist, school consultant and international speaker on the subjects of children, schools and parenting. He's authored nine books focusing on the emotional lives of boys, friendships and social cruelty in childhood, the impact of summer camp experiences on child development, the tensions that arise in the parent-teacher relationships, and psychological aspects of school leadership. Michael's work with independent schools and public school districts throughout the United States, and with international schools in Europe, Asia and South America takes him to about fifty schools a year to lead workshops for teachers, administrators, parents and students.
Every child has to practice being independent and every parent has to practice letting his or her child be independent.
Most kids feel some apprehension before going on their first adventure away from home without parents. Many parents are also nervous about the separation from their child, especially if your camper is expressing anxiety about going away to camp.
The biggest source of parental concern is often how your child will handle the separation from you and if they will experience negative emotions, often referred to as “homesickness,” while at camp. While most kids do not feel extreme symptoms of homesickness at camp, many experience emotional challenges during their first (and subsequent) experiences at summer camp and other away-from-parent experiences. These feelings are normal and are something that we have helped many campers work through. Campers feel a great sense of accomplishment when they successfully overcome the challenge of homesickness, and we encourage you to view this experience through the lens of the long-term positive outcomes for your child.
Homesick and Happy, by Michael Thompson, Ph.D., is an excellent resource, not only as you prepare to send your child to camp this summer, but also as you think about and prepare your child for other future adventures away from you (like college!).
Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.
At sleepaway camp, campers send an average of zero texts per day. Into the space created flows a bunch of old-fashioned human behaviors: eye-to-eye contact, physical affection, spontaneous running and jumping, or simple wandering.