What happens if loneliness strikes? Camps have strategies to help kids face their fears. Younger children may be paired with a "big brother" or a "big sister" camper who helps them learn the ropes. Counselors are trained to pull campers into activities that will distract them from their worries and help them feel more connected to the camp, says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. "When kids have a packed schedule of fun activities, they're unlikely to have enough time to start missing home," she adds.
Your child may be less likely to want to return home early if he signs up with a friend. This may help ease the transition; however, be sure to reinforce the idea that camp is also about making new friends. Carefully consider all the possible scenarios. For example, what if his BFF suddenly becomes buddies with someone else? He could feel left out and vice versa. Talk it over with your child to see what he thinks. "Some kids want to reinvent themselves at camp and try out new social skills in a fresh setting, but others are just more comfortable knowing they'll see a familiar face," says Smith.
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine.