Maggie Quinn, a sophomore at Grosse Pointe South High School, said she has never been to a camp independently, until now.
“It’s weird not having a parent or an adult around,” Quinn said. “At the same time it’s fun because I’m here on my own and I’ve adjusted well.”
Student activities director Sarah Ashman said there are kids every year like Quinn whose first time going away from home without their parents is at MIPA. Ashman said the MIPA staff works with those kids to make them feel comfortable and to avoid homesickness.
“The best thing that I find is trying to get those students involved in activities,” Ashman said. “I think those unstructured times when class is not in session, they are just back up in their rooms or in a lounge by themselves that homesickness or that feeling that they are far away is really going to sink in.”
According to Quinn, she said she wasn’t nervous about leaving her parents but more worried about navigating an unfamiliar place.
“What has really helped me to adjust to everything is that a ton of my friends are here and a ton of (Grosse Pointe South) Tower (newspaper) people are here,” Quinn said. “I’ve been able to meet people on The Tower that I didn’t know very well before I went to MIPA.”
Ashman said one of the best ways to deal with feeling homesick is to talk to someone, especially friends or an adviser.
“Just connecting with people that you know kind of helps remind you of home, but if you’re here by yourself from far away, first time then honestly the best thing is just to be around people as much as possible,” Ashman said. “The more you isolate yourself the more far away you are going to feel from everything that’s comfortable.”
Ashman said some advice to students who are nervous about being away from home is to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new.
“I think it takes a lot of bravery to step outside of your comfort zone and leave home for the first time,” Ashman said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be on a Big Ten campus for five days; this is something that not a lot of kids get to do. When you see opportunities to go explore or to try new activities, kind of push yourself a little bit. Doing that builds some confidence and then the experience feels exciting more than it does scary.”