By Jenna Grady

First published in Summer 2005/5765, Issue #9

Being the new camper can be both exciting and worrisome. It’s important to remember to have fun and enjoy your time at camp. I am 11 years old and going to overnight camp this summer. It will be my first long camp experience away from home. I worry most about being homesick. I am looking forward to being at the same camp that my sister and cousin have been at for years, but I’m not sure what our relationship will be there. I am also looking forward to making new Jewish friends, learning to be more independent, and having a fun time.

I spoke with Talia Abrams-Kudan, age 11, Dalya Weinrock, age 14, and Netana Markovitz, age 10 about their advice on sleep away camp:

Talia went to overnight camp last summer, but will attend a different camp this year. She worries most about being the only one homesick and not being able to fall asleep without her parents. Her advice to girls: Just be nice and take care of yourself. No matter what you think, you are not the only one who has been homesick. Everyone is homesick at one time or another. Remember to take care of yourself, because if you’re taking care of yourself, you’ll have a better time. Try relaxing, reading a book, writing, and not being hard on yourself or the situation. Take time to enjoy nature.

Dalya is going to overnight camp for the first time this summer. “I’m looking forward to having a positive experience at camp and making new friends,” she says. “I worry most about making new friends in a group that is already established.” Her advice about being homesick: Try to have fun and keep yourself occupied. Making new friends isn’t always simple. Remember to be kind, friendly, and to be yourself, and you will make friends much more easily. Making new friends can be really fun.

Netana is also going to overnight camp for the first time. “I’m worried that I won’t be able to fall asleep, especially on the first night.” Netana looks forward to making new Jewish friends, doing interesting activities, becoming more independent, and having lots of fun. Netana says if you take your mind off of it, you’ll feel less homesick. If you have trouble getting to sleep without your parents, it’s best to think about things that comfort you and not focus on not sleeping. Often, I find it useful to think of characters in a book, a favorite activity or a favorite place.

My advice is: If you’re homesick, try talking to your friend or writing home. Keeping a camp journal is a great way to express your feelings and record your experiences. Remember, girls wouldn’t return to camp year after year unless they had fun! You’ll have fun too!