I spent last week at the beach with some of my best friends, all of whom are camp friends. We played a lot of Spikeball and board games. We made great food and laid in the sun. A week at the beach with these people is easy. Why? Because we have done this before. We have had to take care of our living space together, we know when it’s time to set the table, we know how to play together. We all have either worked and/or been campers at Merri-Mac (and our husbands at Timberlake).
Why camp friends are the best friends:
Accustomed to being apart: When you go off to college or move to a new city the friends that will stick are the ones that know how to maintain friendships over long distances. Camp friends are accustomed to spending 2-4 weeks together then being apart for the rest of the year. These relationships have had to overcome distance from the beginning so things like going off to college are no big deal.
Unique common bond: Friendships are formed over common bonds, similar to being on a sports team together, but camp is like this to an extreme. You bond over having a love for your tribe, cheering each other on as you overcome fears, doing something really cool for the first time, and coping with being away from your parents for weeks at a time. This is unique. This is special.
Own language: At camp you have your own language. Friends at home don’t know what you are talking about when you mention Tray-Po, Macky’s, or the Mike. They don’t know what it means to be Choctaw, Iroquois or Seminole.
Live together: At camp you live, work, and play together. You and your cabin mates will work side by side cleaning the bathroom floors, or writing a new addition to your cabin song together, or going on a camp-out together. These kinds of things bond people.
Truest version of you: At camp there are no cell phones or computers. You are forced to have real conversations, look people in the eye, overcome conflict face-to-face, talk about your day, or talk about why you are nervous about going to high school after camp. People see you as your truest self.
Camp is a safe place: Camp is a safe place to make friends. You can be yourself, act silly, be a kid, and know that you are going to be accepted.
This was not our first vacation together. This won’t be out last vacation together. We will make time to be together for the rest of our lives. Our children will eventually join the mix, wearing their tribe shirts, singing camp songs and laughing about inside jokes that are only understood by people who have the privilege of feeling their hearts swell as they turn onto Montreat Rd.