We understand that it can be worrying, both for players and parents, to have chaildren staying away from home.
With the pandemic, many children are less familiar with being away from home because there have been fewer school trips and sleepovers at friend’s houses.
Our staff are both very qualified and capable in their footballing knowledge, but have been asking to be involved in the Camp because of their ability to look after children in a pastoral care role.
The children and our staff stay in boarding houses at Tonbridge School. The houses are set-up for children and they provide a good boarding environment with relaxation areas, games areas and of course bedrooms. The bedrooms are a mix of dorms, twin and single rooms. Increasingly senior schools are epxected to provide single rooms to pupils, so the number of dorms and twin rooms are reducing all the time. We won’t get the final house layout and information about which rooms we can use until after Tonbridge as finished their term, so we won’t know until just before the first camp who will be sleeping where.
Our Staff will be staying in the boarding houses and we aim to have a member of staff sleeping on each corridor.
Staff have their own shower and toilet facilities in the boarding houses.
Staying with a friend
Whilst this is a representative team, and not a holiday Camp for friends or school mates, we understand that some parents prefer their children to be in a group with people they already know. Over the years we’ve seen very little evidence that this helps children being away from home and lots of examples where it’s had the opposite impact. Usually it means players who already know each other stick together, sitting together in the dining room, spending their social time together and staying in the same room at night. Also they tend to get to sleep later impacting on their performance during the Camp. It often leads to small cliques within our teams, and those players make fewer friends within the team and find it much harder to integrate with their teammates. Children are very good at socialising, much better than adults, and we usually find it’s the parents rather than the players who want their children to be inseperable from their school friends. Please encourage your children to be brave, develop social skills, go out and make as many friends as possible and enjoy the experience of being part of a team made of up players from many different schools.
I am worried my son/daughter will get homesick. Any ideas to help? We do understand that being away from home can be very difficult for some players. Our coaches have a lot of experience of how to deal with homesick players, but some players do still get upset. Sometimes homesickness can be made worse by well meaning parents. Firstly, consider whether you think your son/daughter really needs a mobile phone. Would they be better without a phone?
If they do bring a phone, we strongly recommond not using texts as a way of communicating and clearly agreeing set times when players can call you. We strongly recommend once in the morning before breakfast and once around 8pm before bedtime. Back and forth messages and phone calls usually makes things much worse for everyone. Evenings can be particularly difficult when players are tired, so parents should be very clear that players can only call them once in the evenings. At the end of your evening call assure them that you will be available in the morning to answer their morning call. This gives them somethng to look forward to but makes it absolutely clear that they need to get on with the Camp in the meantime. If there is an emergency the coaches have your number, so there is no need to keep answering the phone or sending text messages. Being brave applies to parents just as much as the children!
Why don’t you recommend text messages?
Children don’t use texts in the same way as adults, often factual but not considering the way a message is interpreted. Here are two examples from previous camps.. A parent contacted us upset because their son had text that just said “I’m really cold”. It transpired the player had just got out of the shower and was texting while still wet, before putting on their training kit. The player was amazed when our coaches suggested there was an issue. A girl text home to say “I’m starving and I’m not getting any food”. The parent was upset about why we weren’t feeding their daughter. The girl had text while standing in a short queue for food in the canteen. By the time we’d caught up with her she was eating a full plate of food, including a starter, main course and desert. Texts can also make things much harder for homesick children. They can sit with their phones waiting for mesages, which only makes things worse and sometimes children can start sending messages to their parents simply to get a reaction and response. We recommend you avoid using text messages or Whatsapp wherever possible.
I am worried my son/daughter will wet the bed. Do ensure that Dan knows well before the Camp so a mattress protector can be fitted onto their bed.
Dealing with homesickness
Feeling homesick isn’t a weakness or anything to worry about. Missing home affects most children on our Camps and even our staff who look forward to getting back to their families. There is no need to feel guilty about missig home!
Players should not hide in their rooms. Coaches will arrange plenty of activities in the evenings and try to ensure all the players are involved.
Bring along a home comfort. Maybe a favourite bear, blanket or object. Whatever your comfort things are, bring them along. Don’t be worried about the stick you’ll get for having a cuddly toy, the chances are that your teammates will have theirs hidden away somewhere too!