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When Your Child Feels Homesick at Camp

It's fun to buy shorts, stock up on stamps, and pack, but what happens if your camper gets teary-eyed once he's there? "Nearly every kid misses some aspect of home, whether it's Mom, the dog, or just his pillow," explains Marla Coleman, past president of the American Camp Association. Help him hang in by:

Keeping it upbeat: Try not to weep openly (wear sunglasses) at dropoff; also, write letters that are positive--don't run on about how you desperately miss him!

Playing up the fun: Remind him of the cool activities he'll get to enjoy (waterskiing, campfires, the end-of-session talent show).

Giving it time: The first day or two can be tough, but counselors are trained to help kids make the transition with break-the-ice games and projects to keep them busy.

Resisting the urge to rescue: Whatever you do, don't make a pick-up deal, begs Coleman. The promise to bail him out if he doesn't like it undermines his confidence and gives him an excuse not to participate fully or try to make friends.

Contacting the camp director: Ask for his perspective on how your kid is doing--he may be whining to you but just fine the rest of the time.

Steering clear of the phone: "You may think that you can 'fix it' by speaking with your child, but it often ends up being very emotional and can make the situation worse," says Coleman. If your child is having an especially difficult time, the camp director will call you about it.

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