Tag Archives: homesick

Campsickness… A True Ailment

Untitled design (3)


/kamp, sīk/

(as defined by Urban Dictionary)

The opposite of homesick (or home-lonely; medically, you’re not actually ill). Intense longing to be back at summer camp. Afflicted persons may show a variety of symptoms, including melancholy, reminiscence, and attempts to incorporate camp culture, routine, and lingo into “real world” life.

Some cures for “camp sickness” include send the afflicted person back to camp and constant communication with fellow Robin Hooders. Designated camp time will allow those who are campsick to instantly be cured of all symptoms.  Otherwise, be patient with them. Try to distract them without making them feel as though you don’t care about how they feel. Listen to their camp stories, even though you’ve likely heard them more times than you care to. If possible, try to incorporate their favorite camp customs into the “real world”. Encourage contact with other “camp people”, because they will share experiences and alleviate the feeling of being alone.  

After spending the best summer at Robin Hood, many campers missed it so much they became campsick. Most of their friends at home did not understand, and aggravated the feeling.

First Time Camper? What to Expect…

IMG_9312As we head into our 88th summer, it’s incredible to think that over 25,000 kids have started their lives at Robin Hood. That’s a lot of first-time campers! Families can trust that from the moment they say YES to Robin Hood they will be taken care of with the best care and attention, that which can only be found in a family. With over 50% of our staff being alumni, it’s clear that Robin Hood is a family and at it’s core are the people who have become part of our incredible legacy. With more than 250 combined summers at Camp Robin Hood, our Leadership Team understands the unique responsibility of preserving the Robin Hood experience that shaped us each as individuals, and we are dedicated toward providing that same experience for our campers. You’ll see it in the assistance we provide before camp, the care and attention we devote during the summer and our dedication even after the season has ended.

Before Camp

  • Our comprehensive Parent Handbook is available online and is your one-stop shop for everything Camp Robin Hood.
  • Get to know Camp Robin Hood through our online videos!  When we find ourselves missing camp (which is pretty much all the time,) we schedule an evening activity of “Night at the Movies” and watch our online videos. They truly paint a picture of what “life in The Realm” is all about which is a great way for the whole family to get ready for camp!
  • Parents of newcomers appreciate the fact that our office staff is always available to answer questions and offer friendly advice. If you have a question, call us.  We’re here to help!
  • “Dear DC” letters and our Parent & Camper Questionnaire allow families to address camper goals and parental concerns/goals for their child
  • Robin Hood’s Big Sister/Little Sister Program pairs older campers with newcomers and our Boys side can write letters and correspond with Group Leaders if they have any questions about what to expect for their first time at camp
  • Campers and their parents can visit our FAQ page and stay connected through our various social network sites by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course, The WoodChuck blog!

During Camp

  • As soon as your camper arrives at camp they will be under the care and supervision of our incredible leadership staff. Daily “bro-sessions” and “girl talk” with each Division and their GL (Group Leader) allows campers to talk about the good and bad of their day, both as individuals and as a community
  • Campers live in bunks with both specialty staff and GC’s (general counselors.) GC’s are all returning campers who know first hand what your child is experiencing and provide support and leadership throughout the summer as your child participates in various activities throughout the summer.
  • Regular staff meetings and check-ins ensure our Head Staff, GL’s, GC’s and specialty staff are all working to meet the goals set forth by your family in your “Dear DC” letter and Parent & Camper Questionnaire.
  • Homesickness is normal for campers (first-timers or not) and is healthy. It means your child likes being at home and that is great! We encourage families to send letters to camp so that there is mail waiting for your camper when they arrive. Remember to keep your letters positive and upbeat.  Of course you can tell your child you miss him/her, just don’t go on about how miserable it’s making you. Camp is the time to instill confidence and independence in your child. Mentioning things he/she can’t control can lead to homesickness, anxiety and depression, which we are trying to avoid. Not to worry, your campers will be sending you mail too! Once a week, their meal ticket is a letter home, so don’t forget your stationary and stamps.
  • There are no strangers at Camp Robin Hood, only friends we haven’t met yet. Campers at Robin Hood are from all over the country and the world, making our community geographically diverse. With the help of older, experienced campers, it’s easy to make friends in The Realm and new campers feel welcomed and accepted.
  • We know how difficult it can be transitioning to an overnight camper so we make sure to keep our campers busy throughout the day!  From the minute they wake up to lights out, our days are filled with programs that are fun, energetic and engaging.  At Robin Hood, there’s something for everyone!

After Camp

  • The friendships you make at camp are ones that will stay with you for a lifetime.  Memories of Robin Hood will be with you forever and we work hard throughout the year to help keep you connected.  Our newsletters keep our campers in touch with Letters from DC & Woody, What’s New at Camp, Camp Robin Hood Congrats and more.  There’s nothing like getting something in the mail from camp and it’s fun to read too!
  • Reunions are scheduled in the fall and winter in both NYC and Cleveland, respectively, and are great ways to reconnect with your friends from the summer. Campers, staff and families are invited to reminisce about camp and is a great way to keep those friendships alive

How to Make Your Child a Happy Camper

We are looking forward to welcoming your child to Robin Hood this summer! We imagine he or she is experiencing all sorts of emotions as travel day approaches, as you probably are too!

Hopefully, the predominant feelings are those of anticipation and excitement; but, it’s also natural to be apprehensive and a little nervous about a few issues including the incidence of homesickness. It’s important to establish the distinction between “missing home/parents/pets/friends” and “homesickness” as they are in fact different.

It is normal to miss people and things we love while we are separated. While at camp, your child will certainly miss you – that is expected. However, he or she will be able to have great fun and be fully involved in camp life despite that.

Homesickness, however, is a condition akin to anxiety or depression in adults, and is a result of lack of security. It is a lonely feeling to which there seems no end.

While in the home environment, your child lives within a ‘safe circle’ – he/she is surrounded by people and things that are familiar and comfortable, including rules and routines. When a child comes to camp, they are stepping out of that safe circle into an unknown world – the people are unfamiliar, the rules are new, and the surrounding environment is drastically different.

But there is a safe circle at camp complete with wonderful and caring counselors, great friends, a beautiful setting and endless fun. The homesick child is the one who is struggling to let go of the ‘home’ safe circle and transfer to the ‘camp’ safe circle. He/she is in that ‘no mans land’ in between the two. We are determined to build that safe circle around your child as soon and as seamlessly as possible.

We will:

  • Show we care – by empathising with them, and offering our love and support.
  • Keep him/her busy and involved – focussing attention on the fun things that they are doing and will be doing.
  • Help them cope letting them know their feelings are normal, and offering strategies and advice on how to feel better.
  • Give special attention to him/her at ‘vulnerable’ times (e.g. rest time, bedtime)
  • Keep YOU informed of how he/she is progressing

During our staff Orientation we spend time discussing homesickness and the various methods of combating it.

The vast majority of children cross that zone between the two ‘safe circles’ with little problem.  Some children, especially returning campers, are virtually in the camp safe circle before they get here!

Prevention is better than cure…

Through our own experience and supported by studies, it is evident that most homesickness can be prevented.  If your child is well prepared for camp then transition can be seamless and exciting.

A well-prepared camper is one who:

  • Has experience sleeping away from home/in company of others.
  • Has been involved in and supports the decision to go to camp.
  • Knows about the camp, some of its people, its facilities and basic routines.
  • Has parents who show pride and confidence in their child’s ability to rise to the challenge of camp.
  • Has parents who may be anxious and worried about how THEY might cope with the separation, but do not let their child be aware of these anxieties.
  • Knows that his/her counselors can and will help in times of need.
  • Knows that low feelings associated with separation are normal.

Here are some tips and advice on how YOU can help to ease the transition in the few weeks prior to camp, and also during the first few days of camp.

  1. If it is going to be a first time sleeping away from home, arrange for your child to sleep over at a friend’s house, or even have friends sleep over at your house – have everyone sleep on the basement floor, or even in the yard! Create a ‘mini-camp’ at home!
  2. At the end of this article is some basic information about the Robin Hood routine. If they haven’t seen the Robin Hood DVD, sit down and view it with them. One of our counselors or older campers will be in touch with your child (if they haven’t already!) to help prepare them for camp.  Encourage them to reply with questions.
  3. Be positive – let them know how proud you are that they are setting out on this adventure, and how you share their excitement.  Discuss the fact that there might be ‘low’ times when they feel sad.  Emphasise that they can always talk to their counselor if they feel sad; that the counselor knows plenty of special ways to make them feel better, and that it is perfectly OK to feel low sometimes.
  4. Avoid the ‘get out clause’: “If you don’t like it, you can come home.” This can be amazingly damaging, and actually sends out some confusing and counter-productive massages.It undermines your confidence in your child’s ability to cope with adversity. It questions whether you really are ready to send your child to camp.Your child will be quick to use it, even when the smallest things go wrong, and you will have the choice of either carrying it through, or backing out of it; both of which will be extremely stressful. Make it clear that whatever period they have signed up for will be seen out. After that, they can make the decision on whether or not to return, or even extend their stay.
  5. As camp time approaches, YOU will become anxious. Try not to transmit that to your child.  Don’t emphasise the fact that you will miss them while they are at camp.  This may sound harsh, but the message here is avoiding the emphasis on missing them.  Support words like “we will miss you so much” with “but we will be so proud and happy that you will be having so much fun making friends and learning new skills.”
  6. If you can, avoid long, protracted goodbyes, whether you are dropping your child at airports, buses or bringing them to camp.  The longer it takes to say goodbye, the more anxious your child becomes, and actually he/she is picking up on YOUR anxiety during this time.
  7. After camp begins, you will be anxious to know how well your child has settled. Feel free to call DC or Jamie, or any of the administration.  We will be happy to let you know how he/she is doing.
  8. We discourage verbal contact between you and your child, particularly if they are having problems adjusting.  We have found that phone conversations with parents create a ‘virtual’ home safe circle that is very short-lived, and in fact makes the problem worse. This is why we have a ‘no phone calls’ policy for the fist two weeks.  Both you and your child will find this tough, but it will make that “I am happy and having a great time” phone call so much more special when it comes!
  9. Be wary of that tear-stained letter pleading for you to come and pick them up. Three or four days will have elapsed since the writing of said letter, and it is highly likely that things will have markedly improved in the interim.  Feel free to call us just to make sure!  When you reply to such a letter, make sure the emphasis is on how proud you are of your child, and how you understand how it must have been difficult to adjust.  Encourage your child to let you know in their next letter about the activities/friends/counselors etc.

There is no magical cure for homesickness, but we will work together to make your child a genuinely happy camper. Indeed we have many existing campers (and staff!) who were miserable for the first day or two of their Robin Hood lives, who have been returning ever since.

The polar opposite of homesickness is ‘campsickness’, and yes it really does exist!  It’s when a camper struggles to return to the ‘home’ safe circle after camp finishes.  Parents of seasoned campers will know exactly what I mean.  In a bizarre sense, our aim is for a camper who experiences homesickness at the beginning of the summer to experience campsickness at the end of it!

“The Talk”

Heading into our last week at camp, it is time we had “the talk.” The topic is: Camp Sickness. Yes, it is true. We warn you the majority of your campers will surely exhibit symptoms of this Realm-old illness. Watch signs include: crying, sad demeanor, loss of appetite, and random dancing at meals. While we assure you the symptoms will dissipate, a sure-fire cure is to encourage your camper to stay in touch with their camp family. We have emailed you the 2012 Camp Directory already (and it can also be found online under “Forms and Documents” on your CampMinder Account).  However, the best medicine of all is to enroll your camper for Summer 2013!

Sweet dreams from the Realm.

We Help Reduce Homesickness by…

Showing we care – by empathizing with them, and offering our love and support.

Keeping him/her busy and involved – focusing attention on the fun things they are doing and will be doing.

Helping them cope – letting them know their feelings are normal, and offering strategies and advice on how to feel better.

Giving special attention to him/her at ‘vulnerable’ times (e.g. rest time, bedtime)

Keeping YOU informed of how he/she is progressing – During our staff Orientation we spend time discussing homesickness and the various methods of combating it.