Continuing Camp Friendships at HomePosted by Alicia DeHart on October 13, 2019
For over a century summer camp has remained one of the most unique childhood opportunities. There are few other places where children are given the opportunity to live independently, explore new activities, and connect with new people. Each summer girls journey to Fernwood Cove ready for the adventures that await them. Without the distractions of electronics and pressure from society and school Fernwood Cove girls immerse themselves into their bunk families and the larger camp community. Through the intentional structure of the Fernwood Cove community and program they develop friendships that thrive. Campers return home with intentions of staying connected. However, continuing camp friendships at home can be challenging.
Throughout the summer you can often hear Fernwood Cove staff, CITs, and campers talking about the feeling of living in a bubble at camp. In our “camp bubble” we are intentional about developing the camp community and building meaningful friendships. Director Jim Gill can often be heard encouraging campers to introduce themselves to someone new. On another day he will encourage them to give someone a compliment that is not related to their appearance. Bunk games and activities develop quality connections among bunkmates where campers value and celebrate differences. Additionally, activities incorporate teamwork, communication, and responsibility. As a result the various aspects of camp help to create some of the truest and most meaningful relationships for Fernwood Cove girls.
Camp Traditions Create Camp Friendships
Friendship is a Fernwood Cove value. Along with the other eight values, Friendship forms the foundation of the Fernwood Cove community is built. More importantly, friendship is woven in to all aspect of the Fernwood Cove experience. With the active support of Fernwood Cove counselors, our camp traditions create camp friendships. These friendships span age groups, activity interests, and hometowns. Providing a rich diversity in the relationships among campers, CITs, and staff.
As campers return from summer to summer they continue to develop existing friendships. Through purposeful bunk assignments, facilitated age group activities, and intentional activity scheduling campers gain new friends too. A friendship bracelet is built from a variety of colored strings knotted together in varied rows and patterns. Similarly, camp friendships are created over time with various people and with tightly knit bonds. Older campers and CITs not only develop their own friendships, they guide new and younger campers in developing their friendships as well. These valuable relationship development skills help campers further develop meaningful relationships with camp and hometown friends alike.
“Friendship is when your love for someone exceeds your need for them.” – Dali Lama
Being Intentional About Camp Friendships At Home
The intentional structure of camp creates so much of the magic we experience every summer. This magic is hard to replicate anywhere else which is why camp is such a unique place and experience. You can be intentional about friendships, and maintaining camp friendships, at home. Actually, we ask for your support in maintaining your daughter’s positive camp friendships throughout the school year. Through an awareness of camp group dynamics and intentional choices we can help ensure campers return to camp with the strong friendships they left with the summer before.
Are you asking “How can Fernwood Cove parents help develop camp friendships at home?” Here are some key pointers to help ensure that camp friendships continue to thrive throughout the school year.
Existing Camp Friends at Home
- If you are having a birthday party or sleepover with one or two camp friends or bunkmates please be mindful of the girls who are not there. Please ask your daughter and her camp guests to refrain from posting about their time together on social media. Seeing camp friends together and knowing you weren’t included can be very detrimental to camp friendships. This is particularly true of Fernwood Cove relationships since inclusion is a major aspect of the Fernwood Cove community. The New York Times published an article that can help campers understand how situations like this can deeply impact their friendships.
- If you have having a larger celebration like a Bat Mitzvah or Sweet 16 party and the majority of camp friends or bunkmates are on the invitation list, please invite all camp friends or bunkmates. Inclusion is the expectation at Fernwood Cove and there’s nothing more exclusive than being one of the few girls who didn’t receive an invitation. Not everyone will attend. Everyone deserves an invitation.
Creating Camp Friends at Home
- Encourage your daughter to connect with Fernwood Cove reunions or meet and greet events in your hometown. They may not be close friends with these Fernwood Cove girls, but camp is about meeting new people. Hometown events are a great time for campers to share camp stories and experiences and connect with other girls they may not have had the opportunity to get to know while at camp. A huge bonus is having someone nearby that truly understands all the summer camp memories, stories, and songs.
- While social media, texting, and e-messages are great ways to be in touch with our friends. One of the special aspects of camp is letter writing. Bring this camp tradition home and encourage your daughter to write letters and send cards to her camp friends and bunkmates. More importantly, make sure she writes to her Cove Sister in the spring. A hand written note delivered via snail mail will always have more meaning and impact than an electronic message.
Camp Friends Are the Best Friends
A popular hashtag on social media #campfriendsarethebestfriends holds a tremendous amount of truth. Through the guidance and support from counselors and the inclusive camp community Fernwood Cove girls develop social intelligence skills. With these skills they develop friendships that have true meaning. As campers return to camp each summer and reconnect with friends their friendships develop into some of their most meaningful relationships of their youth and even life. With year round support your daughter will likely soon agree that camp friends are the best friends.
Take a moment to ask your daughter about her camp friends and bunkmates. What activities or camp events did they enjoy together? Who lives the closest or the furthest away? Who like the same pizza toppings or ice cream flavor? And then ask her how she thinks she can connect with them from home. Come up with a list of things she can do throughout the school year. And then circle back to that list in the coming months to make sure the busy-ness of life doesn’t distract her from the importance of connecting with friends. Through these small things you can help ensure Fernwood Cove friendships continue to be strong long after the days of summer.