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“Homesick” is a Four-Letter Word

The idea of missing people, places and routines is actually a lovely sentiment–how lucky we are to have people and things to miss (and people to miss us) while we’re away! Labeling this as a “sickness” is a directly negative label to perfectly positive (and healthy) feelings.

If you were to step into my 5th-grade classroom, you’d witness a magical dance of imitation and inspiration. Every day, my students eagerly follow my lead, soaking up not just what I teach but also how I live. Whether it’s diving into math and science topics together or sharing laughs over little mistakes, they mimic my actions unknowingly to them. And while being a role model isn’t always easy, I embrace the opportunity to show kindness, patience, and curiosity in everything I do. Because in my classroom, we’re not just learning academic lessons—we’re shaping hearts, minds, and futures one smile, one word, and one small act at a time. All of this is to say, kids look to adults for what to do when they don’t know. Missing people while they are at camp is the same process! Help your camper be successful during the summer by modeling what healthy coping looks like.

Before Camp:
DO:
DO acknowledge and validate feelings, using THEIR words (unless they use the “H word”)
DO ask what they are looking forward to doing at camp (give some options if needed)!
DO share your own positive memories of camp or other times & places where you were away from home
DO focus on all of the wonderful and positive things kids get from camp
If you were homesick as a kid, DO be honest about it–but only if they ask you

DON’T:
DON’T volunteer your own stories of homesickness
DON’T remind them of what they will be missing
DON’T bring up the topic yourself
DON’T ask them if they will miss you (they will)
DON’T share your “war stories” from camp or other times & places where you were away from home.

During Camp:
DO:
DO write letters frequently
DO let kids know what YOU have been doing
DO tell them you love them and that you miss them
DO ask them questions about their days at camp

DON’T:
DON’T tell them that if they are homesick you will come get them
DON’T send packages
DON’T let kids know what other kids at home are doing
DON’T spend a lot of time telling them how much you miss them

Finally, kids are very present-minded and are often concrete thinkers. For some kids, it may feel like if they miss home then they can’t be having a good time at camp. At the same time, they may feel like if they are having a good time at camp, then they must not miss home, which can induce feelings of guilt and anxiety. It might be difficult to walk and chew gum at the same time, but it CAN be done. Reminding our kiddos that they can have a great time and miss home all at the same time is a great life lesson, not just a camp lesson!

About the Author

Tori East-Harris


Tori East-Harris joins camp as the Community Care Director this summer. Tori grew up in Vicksburg, MS, and has lived there the majority of her life. She has been a teacher for seven years and is excited to spend the summer at Jacbos! When Tori’s not on the clock, she likes to do musical theater, tie dye, and read!

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