Camp MD Diagnosis: Campsickness

8.13.14 by

By: Summer 365 HQ – Lauren, Jill, & Dana

Definition: Campsick adjective \ˈkamp-ˌsik\The opposite of homesick (medically, you’re not actually ill). Intense longing to be back at summer camp.

Symptoms: Afflicted persons may show a variety of symptoms, including melancholy, reminiscence, and attempts to incorporate camp culture, routine, and lingo into “real world” life.

You have heard the term homesick… but from personal experience we can honestly tell you that the pit in your stomach when you are campsick is 100 times larger than the pit in your stomach when you are homesick. Being homesick is missing the place that grew up, the place that you were told is home. Being campsick is also missing the place that you grew up, but this time you chose to make this place your home and thats the real difference. Being campsick really comes down to leaving your favorite place filled with your favorite people.  All of a sudden you find that your camp bubble popped and the summer is sadly coming to a close.  When you go to sleep in a bed not surrounded by 10 other bunk beds, wake up to the barking of your dog and not reveille in the morning, the denial sets in, and you begin to remember what silence is like and you have never hated it more. Your camp besties are no longer just  a high-five away, and your counselors are no longer there to tell you that it’s time for activities. The adjustment is hard and the struggle is real! There might be some moping around, some tears, some inside jokes you don’t understand at all and random outbursts of cheering but also some newfound maturity, confidence, and life skills. Never fear, parents, we are here to explain to you what your child is going through, and how to help them re-adjust to home life.  Just know that the more campsick they are, the more your gift of summer camp has worked!

What to do with a campsick child: 

1. Your child will be happy to see you of course, but the ONLY thing that they will want to discuss is camp. EMBRACE IT. They have awesome stories and laughs to share with you.

2. Your child will probably have a wrist full of camp bracelets.  Don’t try to get them to take these off, they will refuse.

3. Your child has been detached from social media and technology, so the first thing they are going to want to do is text, call all their campies, and look at/post pictures from the summer. Let it happen, camp friends are the best friends, and the fact that your child has created such strong bonds with friends that they don’t want to separate from is amazing.

4. He or she will probably refuse to let you wash their favorite camp sweatshirt because it will lose the camp smell. This one you can ignore, wash the sweatshirt… the memories will still be intact without the smelliness that will invade your house.

5. Immediately sign them up for next summer, this will give you all the hugs and kisses that you have been waiting for (also discounts tend to be connected to signing up early… and who doesn’t love that?!).

6. Even though camp food isn’t known to be the greatest, they will miss their favorites like grilled cheese and pizza, canteen,  afternoon snack time, and ice cream parties to celebrate birthdays. Don’t enforce all the healthy eating rules just yet, let them ease back into home-cooked meals.

7. Warning: your meals at your home kitchen table may start with some chants or cheers.

8. Your child may want to re-decorate their room to look like their bunk… we advise just printing out pictures with them to surround their room with the memories that they created.

9. Everyone your child sees in public they will think is a camp person…

10. We advise you to have excess toothbrushes, your child hasn’t brushed his or her teeth alone in two months.

11. Your child is used to making his or her bed… keep this going!

12. Socks with the wrong name tags —your child most likely came home with an abundance of these.  Add them to his or her wardrobe, an extra white sock never hurt anyone!

13.  Dirty and missing clothing. It’s camp and it happens. Try to salvage and deep clean what you can and for those items that did not make it home, RIP, they have gone to a better place (camp heaven).

14.  Camp crushes are the best, try and get a story or two out of your child.  It will help them share their memories and bond with you over their favorite times at camp.

15. Face it, your son or daughter probably didn’t read his or her summer reading book… oops!  Make sure to unpack it out of the bottom of their trunk where it has been sitting all summer and get on those book reports ASAP.

16. Explain to your son or daughter that he or she can start wearing things that are colors other than their camp colors, that there are, in fact, other colors in the rainbow besides their two camp colors.

17. Keep the sunscreen bottles that they didn’t use. When you unpack them from the trunk, use this as teaching moment of the importance of practicing safe sun. Then save these bad boys for next summer.

18. Tie-dye isn’t a trend in the real world, maybe you should keep their tie-dye clothes in the trunk until next summer, or break them out for Halloween – hippie anyone?!

19. Break into rest hour mode… play jacks on your kitchen floor!

20. Messy buns, sweatpants, and white tanks is a trend… just go with it, at least until picture day at school.

21. Sleepovers: have the camp kids come hang! Get your calendar ready because there will be many requests for camp friend slumber parties. We promise your child will not stop smiling and it’ll be like bringing camp into your home.

22.  Start the calendar count down to next summer, and be thankful that your child has a second home that they cherish so much!

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  • This is not only hysterical but completely true! My son has been going to camp for 5 years and always has a rough time acclimating back to being the only one sleeping in his room and the lack of back to back activities once he is home. To tell you the truth, my husband and I (yes, we met at camp) are still campsick :-) Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Beth! Thanks so much for reading our post. I am permanently camp sick too!! That is amazing that you met your husband at camp. We love featuring camp love stories on our blog. Email [email protected] if you would like to / are interested in sharing your story.

  • carly says:

    I honestly can’t explain how on point this is. I have been going to my camp for 9 years and this was my last summer. This article is so true… but parents don’t wash your childrens clothing, we love the smell of camp!

  • Ron leiser says:

    I’m still camp sick….its been 60 years! Think it’s terminal!

  • It is true! I’ve had it and I dont know if it helps anyone but here I share “10 ways to deal with campsickness after summer camp is over” :) ->

  • […] How to Handle a Campsick Child, Fox News Magazine Campsickness: When Kids Come Home Surly, Newsweek Campsick, Summer 365 The Last Day of Camp, Camp Manitou How to Deal with Camp-sickness Home from Camp: How […]

  • Macy says:

    Hi- I’m 14 years old, and just got back from camp yesterday with a whole day of non stop campsickness and crying. Honestly, I thought I would be happy to be home as usual, but this year was very different. I’m only on day 1 and I don’t know when it will get better. But one things for sure, I will be sleeping in my sisters room until I get used to actual living conditions! Haha! (P.S. Go Camp Walden in Diamond Point NY!!)

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