Outdoor Education is often a child's first time away from home, so it is normal for a few students to feel homesick. The vast majority of students who experience homesickness finish the week successfully. As students overcome homesickness, they build confidence, independence, and positive memories of individual and shared experiences.

Before your child leaves for Outdoor Education, take time to discuss being away from home. Create positive expectations and answer their questions and concerns. Let your child know that they will be busy participating in activities and collecting experiences that will make their return home even more exciting. If you have specific concerns about homesickness, please contact your child's teacher about special arrangements. Below are a few tips that have helped other students overcome homesickness:

  • Talk to your cabin leader or teacher, a naturalist, or a good friend.
  • Ask for information about the day's schedule, so you can look forward to specific activities.
  • Write a letter home about all the things you've been doing at Outdoor Education.
  • Sleep on a bunk bed near a good friend.
  • Keep occupied by playing games, hiking, participating in activities, and spending time with friends and cabinmates.
  • Bring a special stuffed animal to keep you company at night.
  • Think of all the fun things you're doing at Outdoor Education and write them in a journal or tell a friend.
  • Ask your cabin leader to read stories at bedtime to help you fall asleep.

From Kids to Kids

If your student is worried about being away from home, share the following thoughts from students who previously attended Outdoor Education:

"Are you feeling homesick? If you are, don't worry, so was I!! Remember, it is only for 5 days, then you will see your family. I know 5 days seems like a really long time to be away from home, but believe me, it will go by fast!! There is one rule I think you should follow, don't let homesickness get in your way from having fun!!"
—Sara

"What helps is when you sleep across or under someone you've known for a long time."
—Sabrina

"[Outdoor Ed] is so much fun but it is hard to leave your home and you might get homesick... It will always go away when you play a game they have there. That is how I got rid of my homesickness. I went on a hike and felt better. At Outdoor Ed. nothing can hurt you. Everything is safe."

"If you start to feel homesick, I have some tips to help you get over it, or to keep you from being homesick. One is to list all of the fun things you did that day in order, or if you have things to send a letter, brainstorm what you are going to write. Another one is to talk to a friend who you know they will make you happy. Another thing is to think about things that make you happy. Think of things you might do the next day. So wipe off those tears, and sad faces and enjoy your week at Outdoor Ed."
—Kimberly

"One way to not feel so bad is on your free time to go sit on your bed and write to your family. If you're lucky you might even get a letter back. Your parents probably miss you too. If you're getting really homesick tell your Cabin Leader and she/he might tell you something to get your mind off your family."
—Kaitlin

"A way of not getting homesick is by doing activities."
—Chris

"The best way is to keep yourself occupied. Do that by hiking, playing, and singing. Don't be left alone, have fun with your cabin members."
—Alexander

Mark Nolan

Director, Outdoor Environmental Education

Email: mnolan@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 747-9581

Steve Van Zandt

Manager, Outdoor Education

Email: svanzandt@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 747-0414

Cindy Matsuyama

Administrative Assistant, Outdoor Education Information and Registration

Email: cmatsuyama@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5360