Homesickness at Camp
by Patrick Lynn
Summer camp at Maranatha is an exciting time for children and young people alike. It is a time when they get to experience the great outdoors, make new friends, and create lasting memories. However, for some campers, especially first-timers, homesickness can become an overwhelming feeling that can negatively impact their camp experience. Homesickness can become especially difficult if they are away from their church community and typical spiritual routines. To define it, homesickness is a kind of anxiety – it’s the chronic feeling of alienation one gets when they’re away from the familiar. There are many strategies to cope with homesickness, so let’s look at a few:
1. Stay Connected With Home
One of the easiest ways to cope with homesickness is to stay connected with home. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as writing letters to family members, calling them on the phone, or using video chat apps like Zoom or FaceTime. Usually, campers at Maranatha will be with a church group, but for the ones who aren’t, communicating through letters or email to someone in their church or youth group can ease the feeling of homesickness.
2. Make New Friends
Camp Maranatha is a place where campers can meet new people from all over the country. Making new friends can help alleviate feelings of homesickness by creating a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Encourage each other to join in group activities, participate in games and sports, or take part in crafts and other creative projects. For older campers, joining a Bible study or prayer group can provide a sense of spiritual community and support.
3. Focus on the Positive
When homesickness sets in, it can be easy to dwell on all the things that you are missing at home. Instead, encourage each other to focus on the positive aspects of their camp experience. Maranatha offers a wide range of activities that campers might not have access to at home, like our nature trails, zipline, and waterfront.. Motivate each other to take advantage of these opportunities and try new things. You might discover a new passion that you can continue to explore when you return home.
4. Create a Routine
Routines can provide a sense of structure and familiarity, which can be comforting for campers who are feeling homesick. Try to create a daily routine that includes time for Bible study, prayer, and reflection. Having a routine can also help one feel more connected to their faith and spirituality while they are away from their usual church community. And don’t skip breakfast!
5. Seek Support
Maranatha staff members are here for the campers. While few of our staff have formal training in counseling or therapy, we are always willing to lend a listening ear and help campers handle their problems, whether it’s anxiety and homesickness, or just directions to the archery field. The best resource for campers is always their cabin leaders, so don’t be shy in sharing your struggles with them. Cabin leaders, as well as the rest of Maranatha’s staff, are always striving to provide the support, encouragement, and guidance that’s needed to give campers the most out of their experience.
6. Trust in God
If you are a camper struggling with homesickness, always remember that you can rely on God. Participating in the things that draw you closer to Him: praying, spending quiet time in your Bible, and worshiping with music will help you to experience God’s presence, and remind you that you are never truly alone. Even more than friends, family, and staff, God is faithful and worthy of your trust.
In conclusion, homesickness can be a challenging experience for campers at Maranatha. However, with the right coping strategies and support, campers can overcome homesickness and make the most of their time at camp. Homesickness is a normal feeling, and many people experience it, even adults. Remember to stay connected with home, make new friends, focus on the positive, create a routine, seek support, and trust in God, and camp will be a live-giving and life-transforming experience.