Everyone has days or times when they want to be somewhere else. Campers who are new to overnight camp or it’s their first time at Widjiitiwin, it can be a hard time. Even staff we go through homesickness or the desire to be at home more than at camp. Discover how we help your kids want to stay at camp.
When a staff sees a camper that has withdrawn or moved away from the main group, they are taught to go and try to engage that camper back into the activity or to join them. The staff/camper relationship is key to the success of each camper’s time at Widji. Here are a few tips of the trade that I have gained through my 40 years as a camp staff/director.
- It’s been said that life savers help. I don’t know anyone who can suck on a lifesaver and cry at the same time.
- We want to ensure the camper feels welcomed and they don’t let them get lost in the crowd. We strive to know their name, accept them and find a way to show them we care. And by helping them to make friends.
- We try to keep campers busy with activities. A busy camper gives them less time to think about home.
- We try not to talk about family as this can often make the feeling stronger.
- We spend one on one time with them, or perhaps the chief cabin leader can be with them.
- We try to do what they like, and help them to like what they’re doing
- Bedtime is often the hardest part, but don’t lose faith. They will sleep eventually.
- Our goal is to make each camper feel welcomed into the group by getting them to learn each other’s names.
- We strive to be clear about what to expect. What is the schedule? What are the ground rules? We spell these out from the beginning and honour them. This helps the camper feel more secure.
- We’re proactive by checking in with campers every day or multiple times a day, but we DON’T ask if they miss home.
- We’ll spend one-on-one time with each of your camper’s every day, even if it is just for a couple of minutes.
- We tell campers that their feelings of missing home are normal, even telling them about a time that we missed home and share what we did to cope.
- We ask about the things they have done so far at camp that were fun and we pile on encouragement & show optimism.
- We do not promise a call home. This may sound harsh, but a call home makes a camper miss home more. This would be a last resort.