We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We’ll say it ALL the time: Camp friendships are the deepest friendships, the closest friendships, lifelong friendships.
In fact, when parents choose an established sleepaway camp like Camp Alleghany for Girls one of the top reasons is exactly that — because at camp, with its depth of experience, trials and victories, independence and inter-dependence, friendships are seeded, take root, and truly bloom.
As a lifelong camper myself I treasure so very deeply those friendships I made as a camper and a counselor and am in touch with those friends to this day. So to see the exact same heartfelt connection happen for my oldest son this past summer only affirms for me that this is a timeless aspect of summer camps, as enduring today as it’s ever been in the past.
So many camp friendships keep their connections in the most unique ways. I mentioned once about running into a fellow ‘Ghany Girl in an airport and poof — instant camp reunion!
Our Program Director Casey Tucker writes each year of a standing reunion he has with camp colleagues from previous camps and their excursions into the wild.
And now I get to share with you about another recent reunion I had with a camp pal that dovetailed with my son Mason’s camp reunion with her son. All I can say is WOW, life is beautiful!
It happened like this…
A Double Camp Reunion
I’ve blogged often about my sons’ experiences at camp, and how positive they’ve been even as they’ve gone through the normal ups and downs about camp — its newness; Will I like it; Will I miss you mom? Will I make friends?
It’s been so instructive to be a camp parent now and be on the other side of enrollment/packing/curiosity/worry (a little bit)/letting them go for the past few years.
This past summer, Mason went off to one of his camps for the third year and made a new friend… a new best friend. As he says, “My best friend in the whole world.”
And what are the odds but it just so happens that that friend’s mom is my camp friend from back in the day! Katie was in my Junior Counselor (JC) group in 1997. She has stayed connected to Alleghany and comes back each summer as a camp nurse for a week.
She and I had already reconnected in the past few years, so you can imagine our delight to see that our sons are best camp friends!
It’s been so heartwarming for both of us to see the bond that our sons have built.
It’s also wonderful that boy moms like us (she also has only sons) get to witness best camp friendships from that mysterious other world of the male variety that we never had access to at our all-girls camp except during the Greenbrier Dance. Now we get a backstage pass into the world of male bonding and it’s such a delight!
Mason and Katie’s son Matthew truly connected this summer. When my husband Matt picked Mason up at the end of the session, Mason cried real tears because he was so sad to leave Matthew.
I know how deep the pull of camp friendships are and I was set on making sure we nurtured this bond in the good old fashioned off-season ways, only 21st century style! So over the Fall we set up FaceTime sessions for Mason and Matthew to catch up. This was really fun for them and I highly recommend it for your child and her camp friends!
Mason wanted to invite Matthew to his birthday party in September, but since they live a few states away we knew that wouldn’t work this time ☺ .
But time and chance and determination have a way of making all things possible so imagine my delight when Katie texted me letting me know that they’d be spending a portion of their holiday break in Virginia visiting family and then heading to The Homestead for a getaway. She wondered if there was any way we could meet up?
Of course we said yes!
The Homestead is a mere hour away from our Staunton, Virginia home and I’ve wanted to take my boys over there for a day trip for quite some time now because it’s a place that holds so many fond memories from my childhood.
My grandparents, Cooper and Franny, took us to the Homestead every Thanksgiving growing up. It was always already decorated for Christmas which really made for a special time when I was a kid. To this day being there at Christmas time is always my favorite — it was such a joy to be able to show my boys my favorite places around the resort!
So all the Shreckhises piled into the car and met up with Katie, her husband Keith, and her sons Nate and Matthew early one afternoon and had an amazing day together at the Homestead. We swam in the indoor pool, went ice skating, had dinner, and just thoroughly enjoyed each others’ company.
Like all good camp friends — pardon me, I mean all best friends in the whole world — Mason and Matthew immediately reconnected and had a great time together. Matt and I had never met Keith, and we truly enjoyed getting to know him better as well.
When we finally had to go, Mason and Matthew were again on the verge of tears and not wanting to part. I almost felt badly having to take them away from each other! But the great thing about camp friends is that letters, post card, calls, and yes, even FaceTimes help keep the bond alive. Even just waiting…waiting…waiting for the camp’s Opening Day to see that friend keeps the bond alive.
We’re counting down the months now until camp, and these boy best friends definitely can’t wait. I didn’t hesitate to send a picture of them to the camp director as well, showing him this fun holiday reunion. (And this camp director, me, would love to see YOUR camp reunion pics, too!)
Katie texted me later that night to convey Matthew’s take on the rest of the family’s Homestead getaway:
“I wish we had done this on our last day here, so I wouldn’t have to be here without Mason now!”
Katie and I also loved our own reunion, and enjoyed getting our husbands together. Right up camp reunion alley this was another very soul-filling, heart-warming day. I am so grateful for both camps — and the whole summer camp reality — for bringing us all together!
Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download my FREE e-book, 3 Reasons to Begin Your Child’s Sleepaway Summer Camp Experience Early. It’s a great resource to share with friends, or if you are a first-time camp family and you wonder what sleepaway camp would be like for your child. Come join us!