One local boy shares his story of dreading his first sleepaway camp experience, in his own words, and how he overcame homesickness to have the best summer of his life.
Before I went to camp last summer, I thought it was going to be a horrible experience and that I would miss my parents a lot. Half of that was true. I truly missed my parents, but I was so wrong about camp being horrible. It was the best summer of my life!
A couple of weeks before the session started, I began worrying about being homesick and told my mom I didn't want to go. But I had no choice, as I was already registered. We left for camp on Monday night, and I'll always remember my last glimpse of my house when I was pulling out of my driveway.
My dad had been in China for two weeks, so we had to go to the airport before we started on our journey to New Hampshire. We picked him up and finally drove off. It was really late so we decided to stop at a hotel for the night. We were less than four hours away. In the morning we packed our things and we headed off....again!
We finally got to New Hampshire, where we met with my cousins, and my aunt and uncle. I was lucky because I would know someone at the camp (my cousin Andreas had gone the summer before and raved about it, and my cousin Daniel was back for his third year straight). I had a nervous feeling in my stomach when we saw the sign "Camp Pemigewasset" - and I wondered why I ever agreed to attend.
When I first went into Lower 3 (my cabin) to unpack my things, I knew right away that my cabin mates were great. It was easy for me to talk with them, and they helped me forget about my homesickness from the start.
But I think the most comforting thing at camp was my counselor Alex. He helped me work through my homesickness and I was very happy about that. My parents had left, and I was now with people I didn't know at all (except my cousins, but they weren't my cabin mates).
The first night was horrible for me because I was so sad that I wouldn't see my parents for three and a half weeks. I did not want to disturb Alex, but I went over to him to ask him for some advice because I was really homesick (it's hard to describe how I felt - just that being in a different place without my family wasn't "okay" to me). I was always told to keep trying to "get out of my comfort zone." I eventually did. Alex and I would have nightly talks about the day and how I was overcoming my homesickness, and this helped me so much. I could trust Alex with anything and I vented to him about the day in general. After every time I finished talking to Alex, I would always be able to fall asleep. I also had an assistant counselor, Andrew, who was there for me when Alex wasn't. Also, I do think that my cousins helped me out greatly.
There are so many things to do at Pemi that kept me busy throughout the day. I played lacrosse, tennis, basketball, tried waterskiing and knee-boarding, and learned how to make woolly critters. These were just some of the occupations I did! On the third week of camp I was called out with seven other boys to go on a three-day hike to Mt. Moosilauke. It was a great trip and surprisingly I said to my camp trippy (the person in charge of the hike): "I am homesick for PEMI!" It was true, though - I was homesick for Pemi!!! I really enjoyed my summer because I made so many great friends and tried so many new things, but mostly because I learned that I could leave home and have a great time. When I finally left camp I was crying because Pemi was like my summer home. And I cannot wait to go back next year!
John-Luke De Stefano is a 12-year-old from New York City who loves basketball, drawing, and his grandma's pasta on Sundays. He has been wrestling since he was four and is also a Boy Scout. Last year was his first camp experience - the first, he's quick to point out, of many more to come.
Also see: How Parents Can Overcome Their Separation Anxiety When Kids Leave Home for Summer Camp
How to Help Your Child Make Friends at Camp