Dear Lauren,

I’m going to sleep-away camp, and I just know I’m going to be really homesick. I want to go, but I’m scared and embarrassed about the homesick part. What should I do?

Lauren Roth's Answer

When I was a kid, I had this great record (a record is a very large, black, CD-type item which plays music when placed on an antiquated device called a “record player!” Ha!). It was called “Free To Be You and Me,” and on that great record was a great song: “It’s Alright to Cry.” Some of the lyrics were: “It’s alright to cry. Crying takes the sad out of you. It’s alright to cry. It might make you feel better.”

Crying, in my professional opinion as a therapist, is a beautiful thing. It shows you’re human. It shows you have emotions. It shows you’re a sensitive, sentient, feeling person. It allows you to be real.

Personally, I like people who are able to cry. Those are the ones I choose as friends. I find them to be real.

When my parents come to visit us in New Jersey, every time my father stands at the head of the table on Shabbat with the kiddush cup in his hand, ready to make the Friday-night kiddush, he looks at all of us there together, and he becomes so filled with love and gratitude that the happy emotions rush out of his eyes. I love to see him cry before he makes kiddush—I love that he feels so deeply about his family.

If you’re homesick at camp, consider it a blessing and a testament to your love for your family.

I don’t think you should be embarrassed at all to be homesick. I used to go to sleep-away camp every summer, and often I was terribly homesick. Often, I cried really hard. It felt miserable and great all at the same time. Why did it feel great? Because it made me realize how much I love my family. Some kids at camp weren’t homesick at all; in fact, some of them were happy to be away from their parents and siblings. My homesickness made me realize how close I was to my family, and it made me even more grateful for them and for our relationship.

If you’re homesick at camp, consider it a blessing. Consider it a testament to your love for and closeness with your family.

I have one son who lives in the dorm at school (he’s 20 years old). Every time he leaves home again after being with us, I cry! I go to the door to say goodbye to him, and the “raindrops from my eyes” start falling. Every time, I ask him, “It doesn’t make you feel bad that I’m crying, does it?” And he answers, “No, Mommy, it doesn’t make me feel bad. It makes me feel loved.”

If you miss your family, that is a beautiful thing. It means you love them. Don’t be embarrassed; be grateful!

I get that you’re scared to be homesick. As I told you, I know it feels miserable. BUT homesickness is just one part of camp. The other parts of camp are really fun and will enhance you as a person. Like making new friends and engaging in creative activities and playing sports and swimming and going on great trips…all in all, camp is a growing experience. The fun parts and the miserable parts, too.

So my advice to you is: go. Have fun. Cry.

It’s alright to cry.