A Note From The Santa Monica Teen & Family Therapist
Read on for ideas on how you can support your pre-teen when going away to summer camp for the first time. – Sandra
Traveling away from home for the first time and leaving behind everything that is familiar to them can be scary for pre-teens. They don’t know what to expect and aren’t sure how people are going to respond to them. What they need to focus on is that it can also be a very exciting time! Adventure awaits them … along with the possibility of new friendships.
Summer camp is an opportunity for your pre-teen to practice their social skills and grow as a person. By stepping outside of their normal routine, they get a chance to learn from others, and return to school in the fall with new experiences under their belt.
One of the ways young people can deal with being homesick is to take something with them that feels comforting. One girl I know took a pillowcase with a photo of her family on it. Another took a pre-addressed notecards to send home letters telling her friends about her trip. At the very least, your pre-teen can take a couple photos to look at whenever s/he wants, and perhaps share with the people they meet.
The first day of camp is like the first day back at school after summer break. People who already know each other gather together and visit. Your pre-teen should to see who looks interesting to them, and introduce themselves. There are probably other new people like them who are very open to getting to know them.
They also want to try and participate in all the activities, and avoid making any snap judgments about people. By giving themselves permission to really enjoy themselves, and even be silly, they are more likely to have fun.
Remind your teen that summer camp is meant to be a break from school, so they don’t need worry about doing everything right. A big key is having a good attitude. Kindness, gratitude and a sense of humor go a long way towards making new friends. Ultimately, they should seek out people who make them laugh, and spend time with them.
If your teen or young adult child is struggling socially or emotionally, I can help you to discover the cause and remedy it.
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