Going away for the summer to an intensive or sleepaway camp? Summer dance programs are an exciting way to sharpen your skills and develop lasting friendships, but sometimes you can’t fight off the homesickness bug. Here are some tips to help you cope:
Pack a treasured possession. “I love to bring recent pictures of friends. I also have a huge stuffed bear that I could not possibly live without,” says Allison Hudson, a three-year summer merit scholarship student at the School of American Ballet in NYC.
Stay in touch with family and friends through e-mail or snail mail. Make sure to write about all the exciting things you’re doing, and not just about how much you miss everyone back home.
Get to know your fellow dancers and find out their hobbies and goals. The phrase “it’s a small world” really holds true; you never know whom you might share interests other than dance with, and whom you might run into again someday.
Realize it’s natural to miss things about home. “What sets off my homesickness is leisure time and food,” Allison says. “While I’m away [at dance camp] I can’t go out and ride a bike or lay around outside. I bring snacks, but I miss grabbing munchies from the pantry at home.”
Hold onto the initial excitement you felt about going to the summer program—pack your acceptance letter as a reminder.
Keep a journal recording your thoughts and what you’ve learned so you can share the whole experience with family and friends when you return.
Confide in your camp counselors or teachers; chances are they’ve dealt with homesickness too.
Before you leave home, make a list of all the things you anticipate missing, and ask your parents to send you a care package while you’re gone.
If you meet a friend who lives near camp, spend a weekend at their home rather than in the dormitory, suggests Lana Carroll Heylock, head of the Dance Institute of the University of Akron Summer Session.
Stay busy by concentrating on your classes, reading or visiting with fellow dancers during free time. Before you know it, the summer will be over and you’ll be missing the new friends you made.