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Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  32 reviews
An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while.
In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming—for you and for them. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don’t think of this book as a book on dealing with homesickness. That is in there, but essence of this book is to highlight the many benefits of summer camp. He shines a light on “the magic of camp”.

The book is well organized and his personal research at a large variety of camps with throngs of campers comes through on every page.
Erin Martin
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a child, I spent 3 weeks at a sleep-away camp every summer for 9 years. I am already a big fan of sleep-away camps. This book was amazing, in that it helped me view the experience from the parental perspective. There are so many psychological benefits to these weeks of independence (and of course....screen-free!) This book is an excellent reminder that once the baby phase is over, our jobs as parents are to create experiences for our kids to help them become confident and independent adults ( ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book! As a former camper and camp counselor I have such fond memories of camp, yet the thought of sending my kids to camp made me nervous. Thompson sets out to calm any nerves and shows how great camp is for kids. He had me at chapter one where he discusses the 8 things parents want, but cannot do or give to their children -happiness, self-esteem, friends, independence. The main point is that there are many things parents can not teach their children, and camp is a great secure place t ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book from the "new non-fiction" shelf at the library, more out of disgust than interest but am now completely converted! I thought it was going to be talking about little kids (as in, anti-attachment parenting) but it's actually a really compelling case for sending your kids away from you to camp (or something similar), when they're old enough. Reading this made me realize how very formative all my years at Tanalian Bible Camp really were for who I am today. I thought the inform ...more
Muddy Waters
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Confirmation that summer camp can be life changing. It was for me.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wanted to not like this book because it was so effusive about the summer camp experience. This is just one giant ad for summer camp, I thought. But then it was interesting to learn about different camps, and to admit that for some kids the experience really is all that.
Lindsay Smith-Munoz
I picked this out from the library because I wanted to feel good about my decision to send my child away to camp at age 8. It certainly helped with that, but it wasn't just a book extolling the wonders of sleep-away camp and providing tips to deal with homesickness. It was a book about growing up.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easy to read and informative.
Audrey Monke
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
For any parent who hesitates about sending their child to summer camp, this is a must read. Thompson explains why even the most anxious, "non-campy" kids can benefit from the experience.
Nancy Kennedy
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Author Michael Thompson writes a moving paean to summer sleepaway camp. He visits 19 sleep-away camps and recounts his own camping experiences as a child. In his conversations with everyone involved in the camping enterprise -- campers, parents, counselors, directors -- he develops his theme that the experience can be challenging for everyone, but necessary for the growth of a child's sense of confidence, self-esteem and independence.

I agree with Dr. Thompson's overall theme that a child needs t
Malin Friess
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I found this book highlighted at our library and decided to pick it up. I give it 5 stars and echo much of what Megan said in her excellent review.

Homesick and happy made me a bit nostalgic to a go back to camp as a counselor or camper where I spent at least 4 summers. I think camping ministry (in particular Christian camping ministy) really affects kids and they are changed. I remember obese kids who had never hiked a moutain make it to the top of a peak near Estes Park. I remember kids cryi
Carol Muleta
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this book, first, because I LOVED camp as a child. The fact that we were sending our sons to their first sleep-away camp was another incentive. In any case, this book is billed as "an insightful and compelling look at the magic of summer camp -- and why it is so important for children to be away from home...if only for a little while." The truth is it is about so much more than camp. It puts parents on notice that there are some things they simply canNOT do for their children e ...more
Alain Burrese
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help A Child Grow” by Michael Thompson, PhD is an interesting and engaging look at the area of summer camps and why sending kids to such camps helps with their development. It provides a good argument for the benefits of attending camps, and also engages with the stories from his research. I'll have to admit, it also made me think of my years as a young camper and as a counselor. I could relate to much of what Thompson wrote about with my own e ...more
Mar 16, 2015 added it
I never finished but I'm finished for now. I was seriously nervous about sending my kid to camp for the first time because one, I would miss him like crazy and he was there for 3 weeks. But mostly because of child molesters. That's where my mind goes. As far as I can tell the book didn't cover the latter but it covered a lot of the growth experience that comes from camp. That was helpful. It also covered homesickness to the nth degree. And while I was sure my son would have it like one half of o ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Michael Thompson once again gives parents perspective and guidance as we navigate the decisions of raising children, and in this book he celebrates the merits of sleep away camps. One of my children is an avid and enthusiastic camper, another is going somewhat reluctantly to camp this summer for the first time. Thompson promotes the idea that children will take risks and open themselves to new experiences in a completely different way in a camp environment than they would when their parents are ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read Ch 9, "The Magic of Camp," first -

"Camp is Hogwarts. While only a tiny fraction of children in the world will ever go to boarding schools, and none will ever go to an academy that fields a Quidditch team, all children imagine themselves going to Hogwarts, because it is an iconic place where kids are on their own." My goodness - Michael Thompson doesn't know my daughter but that is an apt description of what summer camp means to her.

I found myself tearing up - in public! - reading about the
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
For any counselor, parent or future parent this is the book to read. It's not that it is new information. What he is telling you is common sense, about why sending your child to camp is a good thing for them. And that being homesick is also a good thing and it's a healthy developmental step in a child's life. But, the anecdotes and information that he has to back it up are really convincing. He is able to verbalize what most of us in the camp industry have been trying to explain to parents for y ...more
Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it
This book, though a fun read, didn't hit the points I would like to have seen. It read more like a PR piece for summer camp and less like a book about developmental psychology.
It didn't help, of course, that my experience of summer camp was completely alien from that described in the book. So my review must be filtered given that knowledge.
Dr. Thompson illustrated amply some of the most desirable aspects of the sleep away camp experience and on the factors (the presence of multiple age groups,
Apr 27, 2013 rated it liked it
The overall message of the book was great. I totally agree about time away from parents in a camp-like setting is a great thing for a kid for many reasons. I don't think that summer camp is te best/only option for that kind of growth though. Also the book felt more "personal experience" based than actual research based. Not that he didn't interview a lot of people - he just seemed to interview a lot of camp-lovers.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting

Very helpful and interesting look at the power of the camp experience and how we can successfully share it with our children. Offers advice on letting children gain independence and resiliency through their own experiences in our world of hyper parenting worry. Love the useful tips for helping and preparing kids for homesickness and parents for childsickness.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great read for sure! I know all the benefits of the sleep away experience from my own experience, but there were lots of great perspectives I have not thought if before. Definitely reinforces the parenting choice of sending your child off for all the right reasons. Finished it up just in time for mine to leave and I hope they love it!
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A must for anyone who is considering sending their child to camp. I'm so glad I read this, I know how great the experience is for them. Research and lots of info very helpful to parents wanting the best for their kids!
Ms. Yingling
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don't think that kids get homesick as much as the parents miss the children. I am not worried about Surly Teen Boy being in the Philippines for a year, although it is probably very likely he will not want to come home!
Martin Goldberg
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: health
Very good, and comprehensive, look at the benefits of summer camps for kids (and staff). Highly recommend this read for a parent considering sending their kid(s) to camp, who has not themself grown up going to camp. Somewhat of a dry read but very educational.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this for July's Parenting by the Book. It was the perfect thing to read while my older daughter tried out sleep-away camp for the first time. Recommend it for parents needing reassurance that time away from home is good for kids and parents.
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
A lot of good comes from the experiences gained from being sent to sleep away camp and it's hard to replicate the experiences in other safe, age appropriate ways. Now there's no need for anyone to read this book.
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Practical helpful tips for making the most of camp for parents and children - I hope to avoid homesickness (and "childsickness"!) but if it comes up I feel like I'll have some tips for handling the situation.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Glad I read it. Quick read and had some helpful hints for helping prepare your child for camp.
May 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: future
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great read for anyone considering or terrified about sending your kids to sleep away camp.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

psychologist, school consultant and international speaker on the subjects of children, schools and parenting

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