Summer camp separation: how parents can worry less while child is away

MADISON – With summer vacation in full swing, summer camp is just on the horizon for many. As kids count down the days till they leave, many parents are doing the same for a different reason.

When parents think about a temporarily smaller, or even empty, household, they may welcome the mini-vacation. However, a Wisconsin camp director said it usually only takes a few days for that excitement to turn to worry.

“If you do have concerns, I’d say reach out to your camp director, reach out to your child’s counselor, and make a personal connection so that your kid’s needs will be met and are being met, and your needs are being met too,” said Andy Bachmann, the director of Camp Highlands for Boys. “Don’t worry; camp staff is trained to care for your child both physically and mentally as well. So, I think giving your kids a camp experience is one of the best things you can do.”

A lot of parents also worry their child is homesick. Bachmann said a homesick camper isn’t a bad thing and instead, is just a sign a child feels loved by their family.

“I actually think that homesickness is a really good thing because it teaches children that they can hold two conflicting emotions at the same time,” Bachmann said. “They can be thrilled, so excited that they’re going to have water skiing today and they can still be sad and missing home. Holding two conflicting emotions is one of the most important character developments that we can have as a person.”

Bachmann said parents can rest assured that camp counselors everywhere are usually trained to deal with homesickness. This typically involves distracting the camper with fun activities and helping them build connections with other kids, while still acknowledging it’s okay to miss home.