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Q&A for Teens: Homesick at Camp
Q&A for Teens

Q&A for Teens: Homesick at Camp

I want to go to sleep-away camp, but I know I’ll be homesick!


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.

July 6, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 4

(3) Simcha, July 10, 2013 1:48 AM

Homesick at Camp!!!

When I was a child (Thank G-d, I am now 53), I went to day camp as well as to sleep away camp. The first year I went to sleep away camp, I was 11 years old. The camp was three hours away even though we lived in Maryland and the camp was also in Maryland. That first year and the first day of camp I was homesick. I also had a fever. I don't know if the fever caused the homesickness or if the homesickness caused the fever. Anyway, the next day, my parents (may they rest in peace) along with my paternal aunt (may she rest in peace) who helped my mother with the driving due to the fact that my father didn't drive due to a visual impairment, picked me up. The following year I returned to the camp for two weeks and thank G-d enjoyed myself especially since I was in the drama bunk. I attended that camp until I was 14 years old. One big consolation for me was that when I came home from camp, our family, including my paternal grandmother (may she rest in peace) and my paternal uncle (may he rest in peace) went to Atlantic City for four days during the good old days of Atlantic City before there was gambling. I remember bicycling on the Boardwalk every morning at 7:00. What a wonderful time!!!

(2) Eli, July 9, 2013 10:35 PM


(1) scott, July 7, 2013 8:32 AM

I hated camp

I went to one camp. Boy Scouts. I hated it. I didn't have my own room and things weren't arranged around my personal schedule. Mom wasn't there to fix me the food I liked and my friends were at home.

But then I never gave it a chance. I decided to have a bad time from the start. And I did a great job. Never went back.

So when I turned 18 and went to the army, I was in for a rude awakening. The drill sergeant definitely wasn't my mother-as he liked to explain while I was doing push ups to atone for whatever sin I had committed that hour. And that wasn't a week-it was a more than a year and the penalties for not getting with the program weren't mommy and daddy coming and picking me up..some of the the penalties involved jail.

And when I got out of the army and started college, my RA wasn't my mother..nor was my roommate or the guys on the hall. Again...not getting with the program at college would have had lasting consequences. It's a bad place to experiment with homesickness.

Leaving home is hard-especially if your parents made a good home. But it's not your home. It's your parents home. Part of your mission in life will be to build your own home and you can't do that until you get over homesickness for theirs.

The upside is that camp and army and college give you a structured environment to start figuring out who you are going to be when you step out of your parents' shadows. You will make new friends. You will learn new things about yourself. And you will become a better person. And you will be able to make a home that's yours one day. You just gotta take the first step.

Doesn't make it less scary...but it's the truth.

My advice is to decide to like it and have fun no matter what before you go. You can do that, you know Everyone likes the kid that's having fun no matter what. Especially the kid having the fun.

Sarah, July 9, 2013 6:53 PM

I loved your post- so real to life

Especially the last paragraph. All kids having a hard time with friends should know this.

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