1. Prep in advance by making them a weeklong care package.
Which can of course be altered depending on the number of days they’ll be away. They can open each envelope, containing a little note or a treat or what have you, on each designated day. Hopefully, by the end of their time they’ll be having so much fun with their new buddies that they won’t even remember to open it. Get the directions for this project here.
2. Pack a letter-writing satchel.
Complete with pens, stamps, postcards, and a letter of your own for them to respond to. It’ll help kick off the back-and-forth without stress. (Besides, what eight-year-old remembers to pack stamps? I am 23 and have to scramble to find one literally every time I need to pay a bill.)
3. And for kids who aren’t super into writing about themselves, a simple form letter could do the trick.
This’ll help give you peace of mind too.
4. Do it the old-fashioned way and smuggle in candy by any means necessary.
The enema fluid might be overkill, but even the most hawkeyed counselor probably won’t check inside that box.
5. T-shirts make especially good candy disguises.
Use a Fruit of the Loom or Hanes 3-pack, and if you’re especially sneaky, use a lighter to reseal the plastic. (Just don’t set the shirts on fire)(or the Airheads).
6. You can even use a stuffed animal for a double present.
Stuffies makes stuffed animals with zippers built in for easy hiding.
7. Set goals before they leave.
Like that they’ll advance to the next level in swimming or try out for the camp play. Having set activities to do where they are will help prevent longing for where they’re not.
8. They’ll need a water bottle anyway, so it may as well be covered in pictures of friends and family back home.
Get this custom one here.
9. Send them away with personalized shoe laces.
There are very few things that campers can have with them all day besides sneakers. So give them a little something to always take with them. Grab a pair here.
10. Make a countdown chalkboard frame to help keep track of time.
Sending your child a countdown frame will help them see how close they are to coming home so camp doesn’t seem like forever. Pick one up here or make one yourself.
11. Give them a journal so they can record their feelings.
Both about missing home and about all the fun they’re (hopefully) having.
12. If the camp or destination allows gadgets, make them a playlist or a CD that they can listen to when they’re sad.
13. Pack playing cards for downtime.
The best way to deal with homesickness is to stay busy! Give your kid playing cards to use with their friends to keep their mind occupied. Bonus points if they’re personalized to remind them of home.
14. Trade friendship bracelets through the mail.
So you’ll be matching even when you’re far away. Get the directions for these beauties here.
15. Don’t make a “pickup deal.”
According to The New York Times, you shouldn’t promise your kid that they can always just go home early. “Every kid is going to ask, ‘What if I feel homesick?’ With a pickup deal, the subtext is, ‘I have so little confidence in your ability to cope with this normal feeling.’” Because it’s totally normal! Let them know that this is something everyone goes through and that they’re not at all wrong or broken because of it. They’ll be home before you both know it, hopefully raring to go back.