Slovenski Camps Homesickness Policy
Homesick cases in 2022 more than doubled from previous summers. We had 2 or 3 campers homesick each week in previous years. In 2022, we had 5-7 homesick campers each week. In previous summers we could persuade most campers to persevere and make it through a week. But in 2022 the homesick campers were not as open to having other campers encourage them to join activities and make new friends. They were determined to go home.
Please read these important notes:
- If a camper tells us about being homesick, our first step will be to help them try camp activities, and introduce them to other campers the same age. However, if they insist on speaking to a parent, I am going to put them on the phone to you right away. We found that it drained resources and was not effective to spend time trying to persuade campers to stay at camp. Campers in 2022 were noticeably more persistent about going home.
- If a child needs to be picked up for homesickness in the first 48 hours of camp, the family receives a half refund. After Monday at 5:00 p.m. there are no refunds for campers who get picked up because of homesickness.
- The session that includes July 4 has a daily rate, which might be a good option for a camper who is likely to be homesick.
- Our program works well and is rewarding for children who want to be at camp. The programming is not a good match for children who do not want to be at camp. Homesick campers are tough on the other children at camp. They are also a difficult challenge for staff members who are trying to supervise multiple campers.
This summer we think it is smart to turn the responsibility of persuading campers to stay over to parents. You know your children best. There is a lot of good advice on the internet, and advance preparation and coaching can make a difference for your child. Consider talking to your child about the feelings they might have and strategies for dealing with them. Mentioning homesickness in advance does not make a child more prone to the experience, and it can help children prepare for strong emotions when they have them.
Advice from our experience: We have found that the well-intentioned strategy of telling campers in advance that you will pick them up if they get homesick has not worked well. If they get homesick, and we put them on the phone, you may well end up picking them up, but making that promise in advance makes the conversation around staying difficult. Too often those campers tell me: “My parents said they would pick me up if I got homesick.” The most effective thing we have observed is when a parent tells a homesick camper: “I am not coming to get you.” It must take home preparation, but our observation is that this works about 75% of the time. As one counselor told me last summer: “When I was a camper five years ago, I was very homesick, but I didn’t think going home was an option. I was homesick but I told myself I had to make it another five days.” She came back for four more years as camper, and is now on the staff.
Our sincere support goes out to the families of campers who will feel homesick. And our sincere support also goes out to the homesick campers who want to go back home. This summer, we will put them on the phone sooner than in past summers.
-- Coach Slovenski