One of the ongoing delights of attending camp is the opportunity to develop and extend friendships made during the summer. And these friendships can be as long lasting as those with school chums or those who live near you if they’re cultivated.
The easiest way to develop those friendships is to make summer camp a yearly ritual, sending your child again and again during their growing up years. Seeing camp friends each summer while graduating together to the next challenge or opportunity in the camp routine offers kids a sense of continuity and security that some things in the world grow and change and yet stay the same.
Unlike the school year, where friends are seen over the summer and during holidays, often camp friends only see each other in the summer, with nine long months lapsing in between. Camp facilities stay the same by and large, and it’s always held in the same place, but the kids grow and change, making seeing each other again each year a new adventure.
Seeing a camp friend the next summer is eagerly anticipated and when that day finally comes, it’s usually full of laughter, excitement and fun! On the other hand, sometimes this can bring on some shyness – will she still like me? Will we still hang out this summer? What if I do different activities? What if she doesn’t come back?
One time-honored way to keep those friendships fresh and alive is to help your child be a good pen pal.
With a collection of postcards or some fun stationery, creativity, and a little encouragement, your daughter can begin the fine art of writing letters the old fashioned way. Beginning those habits early will also help her to become a good thank-you note writer while teaching her to value and nourish her life connections, including those made at camp.
If your daughter collected some camp friends’ addresses, or that of her counselor, remind her to drop a line. Make it easier by taking out the stationery, envelopes and stamps and setting her to the task at a nearby table while you cook or work on similar correspondence.
Then, at holiday times, or in honor of the friend’s birthday, encourage her to send a card and include a photo. Small gifts like these friendship charm bracelets, a hair tie, or stickers can add to the fun. While traveling, sending post cards to a pen pal is especially fun.
Memories that last
Once she starts receiving letters back the excitement of keeping in touch will be its own motivation. Soon she’ll be asking you where the stamps are (they make a great stocking stuffer) and if she can get some more stationery soon.
Sure, there’s Facebook and Twitter that off-season campers can use today, and we encourage you and your daughter to join our pages to keep in touch with us. But nothing beats a nice letter arriving in the mail filled with reminiscences, updates, and plans for the summer ahead.
So get your daughter started on nourishing her camp friendships. I know mine remain some of the best friends of my life. And if our many alums are any indication, camp friends are treasured by everyone across a lifetime.
Now get writing! 🙂
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls