Overnight Camp departure day is just around the corner and you’re ready to have your chick back in the nest. But the reality is that the feeling isn’t always mutual.
For kids who’ve spent weeks at camp, they tend to dread camp departure day. They may even face a little transition anxiety at the thought of returning home.
Naturally, they’ve had the time of their lives. They’ve made new friends, learned exciting new skills and created amazing memories.
So, it’s no wonder that transitioning back into the ”real world” may be faced with a little apprehension. This being said, not all kids react the same way.
If you’re a parent and wondering how to handle transition anxiety, here are 5 key things to remember once camp is over.
Managing Transition Anxiety Once Overnight Camp is Over
Once your child steps off that bus you may barely recognize them.
They’re most likely to be standing taller in both height and confidence, sporting a summer tan and full of stories to tell.
But, don’t be surprised when their enthusiasm instantly dips as soon as they jump in the car and leave behind their overnight camp friends and memories. This is only natural.
While your child may be excited to be reunited with siblings, pets, and their bedroom, they may also be conflicted with feelings of missing camp life.
During this time you can expect a little moodiness, sulkiness and your child to appear withdrawn. This is a result of transition anxiety.
As a parent, your biggest task is to balance their conflicting emotions. This is where these five key tips come into play.
1. Understand that Re-Entry is Tough
The transition from weeks of freedom, surrounded by nature and their friends back to everyday life can be difficult for children.
After all, they don’t have the same maturity to come to terms with the fact that life does go on after camp!
It’s difficult for them and as the adult, it’s important to recognize this and give them the time they need to adapt to this re-entry.
Sometimes, this difficulty is not expressed in the kindest way possible, either. They may be cranky, moody, irritable and offish. Try to understand where this is coming from and be as patient as possible.
Keep in mind that the transition may not be that easy on you or fellow siblings either. So, it’s natural to experience a little tension during the initial stages of re-entry after overnight camp.
Keeping all of this in mind will help to give you the perspective you need.
2. Recognize that Your Child Could Be Exhausted
To add to the moods or sullen behavior, remember that your child could also be exhausted.
While camp is a positive experience, it can be tiring for most children due to the constant flow of activities and daily excitement. To add to this, they may not get the best sleep due to new sleeping environments.
As such, your child could return home completely pooped after weeks of ”go, go, go’.” As most parents know, kids don’t usually have an ”off” switch. Rather, they’ll keep on going until they can’t any longer. This is the case with camp life!
Take a step back, give your child time to rest and sleep as much as they need and they should be back to their usual selves in no time.
3. Go Easy on The Rules
Does anyone really like rules? Probably not, but children do need them!
This being said, remember to tone down the nagging and rule enforcement in the first few days after camp.
Your child has had a taste of freedom, away from the barrage of ”brush your teeth,” ”finish your homework” and ”enough TV!”
Returning home after the environment of camp may appear overly oppressive and frustrating for your child, so remember to take a step back from it all.
Try to keep in mind that your once happy camper needs some time to readjust to regular, everyday life in your household. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it feels.
However, try not to let this behavior extend further than a few days, at most. While oppressive rules are not the answer, remember there’s nothing wrong with boundaries.
4. Don’t Take Things Personally
No parent enjoys the feeling of being rejected, especially after weeks away from their child while they’ve been at camp.
But, it’s important to remember to not take this personally. Your kid is processing a number of emotions, including feelings of sadness and even depression.
They may miss their friends and the camp environment desperately and as a result, become withdrawn and spend more time alone.
They spend more time on social media, connecting with camp friends or actively choose not to participate in family activities. Give them a break and let them have the time they need to work through these emotions.
Try not to feel hurt by their behavior, they are readjusting to being home, as are you!
5. Give Your Child Some Space
You may feel completely exasperated after a few days of receiving mere grunts and nods from your sulky child. This is to be expected.
Try not to ”poke the bear” and give your kid the space they need to readjust to being alone once again after weeks of being surrounded by friends.
They may shy away from your affection, so try not to bombard them too much in the first few days.
Pace yourself when it comes to affection and remember that communication is key. If you feel something really needs to be discussed, it’s not what you say, but how you say it!
Looking for More Summer Camp Advice?
If you’re wondering which camp or teen program is best-suited to your child for the summer, we’re here to answer this for you!
We not only offer advice on transition anxiety but provide thorough breakdowns on types of camps, teen programs and what to expect.
Rest assured your children are in the best hands with our team at Camp Experts! Have a query? Get in touch with an expert camp advisor today.