Timely tips to help kids of divorce love summer camp




Many churches host camps during the summer months. Some are day camps children attend only during the day. Other are overnight camps. Summer camps can be wonderful experiences for children.

A lot of children from two-parent homes wait excitedly to attend these fun, awesome camps. Not so much for many children in single-parent homes.

Summer camps can become sticky and messy for children of divorce. While almost all children of divorce want to go to camp, many have conflicting emotions while at camp.

Children worry

  • Children may be relieved just to get away from the chaos of two warring adults. Camp leaders need to be attuned the fact that children of divorce live in two homes, and each is important to them. While talking about home life, remember children of divorce and their situations.
  • Children may worry excessively about the parent they left. While most camp leaders know children may get homesick, children of divorce don’t get homesick as much as they worry about the parent they left.
  • If a girl leaves her dad at home, she might worry whether he is getting up on time, eating when he’s supposed to, and getting to work on time.
  • If a boy leaves his mother alone at home, he may worry about who is taking out the garbage or if his mom is lifting heavy things.
  • Both girls and boys may wonder if their mom or dad is lonely without them.
  • Other kids will wonder if their parent is secretly dating someone while they are gone.
  • A few will worry whether their parent will still be there when they return home. After all, if one parent left, the other might also leave. This is a huge burden kids of divorce carry around with them.

What camp leaders can do

  • Camp leaders can openly talk with children of divorce about their home life.
  • You can reassure children the mother or father they left will be okay without them there.
  • Reassure children the parent will be there when they return home from camp.
  • Reassure them all their toys, clothes, and treasures will be waiting for them when they return home.
  • If camp rules allow, encourage children of divorce to text regularly while at camp. Provide encouraging Scriptures for children to cling to while away.
  • Love these children unconditionally, and work at building relationships with them.
  • If your church has children whose single parents can’t afford a week-long summer camp, provide scholarships, or allow the children and parents to earn the cost of the camp. It might be through a holding a car wash or bake sale or just cleaning and mowing the church property.
  • Pray in advance for all the children from single-parent homes. Pray they will approach camp with excitement and vigor.

What parents can do 

  • Tell your children you are excited they get to attend summer camp.
  • Act excited. If you attended a summer camp when a child, share that experience with them, and be sure to tell them all about the fun times they will have at camp.
  • Share with your children some things you will do while they are gone.
  • Give them a house key or something from home, so they can feel and know you will be there for them when they return.
  • If the camp allows, text a couple times while your child is away.
  • If stepchildren will visit your home, reassure your own children you will protect all of their stuff. Kids worry someone will “touch” their stuff.
  • Tell your children you want to know about everything they do. If your children are into writing, purchase a journal, so they can take notes about their experience.
  • Plan a homecoming party for your child. It can be something as simple as ordering pizza and eating outside one evening.
  • Pray with your children before they leave for camp, and ensure them you will pray for them each and every day they are gone.

Whether you are a church leader, Christian camp leader, or single parent, sit back, relax, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide every child in experiencing a God-filled, joyful time at camp.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on June 24, 2015.

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