It is the final stretch before the camp season officially starts, and it’s the perfect time to start preparing both physically and mentally for camp. The physical preparation is pretty standard: get your packing started, fill out your camp forms, and so on. However, preparing mentally means coming up with a camp game plan and has both new and returning campers thinking about who they will meet in the coming summer. Although meeting new friends is exciting, going into a new social situation can also feel like the great unknown. Whether you are heading off to camp with a gaggle of pals or you are flying solo this year, here is some advice for forming new friendships during your time at camp.
Start with a smile
First impressions are important when meeting new people, so make sure to put your best foot forward by having a positive attitude in your initial interactions. Even the smallest act of kindness, like a smile or a hello, can pave the foundation for a friendship. In the words of William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” So take a chance and sit by someone you don’t know, strike up a conversation, or just give a little wave, after all, you never know who you could meet.
The thrill of meeting new people can be pretty exciting, but don’t forget to take some time to really get to know your new companions. One way to strike up some quality conversation is to ask questions. Asking questions can help you find commonalities and can create strong roots for a lasting friendship. You might even brainstorm a list of conversation starters before heading off to camp so you are ready to chat with anyone who comes your way.
You’ll meet lots of diverse personalities at camp, but no one will be quite like you. While many like to forge friendships with others who have similar interests, don’t compromise who you are to impress others. Be honest about your likes and dislikes, even when they might not be the popular opinion. Your interests and background make you who you are and friends will value your unique personality.
The more the merrier
You can never have too many friends, so even as you start to make friends, keep on meeting new people and expanding your social circle. Everyone you meet could be a potential lifelong friend, so take every opportunity to build relationships with your peers. Even if you do meet a camp bestie or two, be inclusive and let others join in on your newfound friendship. Invite others into the fun because when it comes to making friends, the more the merrier is our motto!
You’re Not Alone
The notion of making a whole new crew of friends might seem overwhelming, but know that there are lots of experts in building camp relationships ready and waiting to help. Camp counselors are well trained in facilitating friendships and will go to great lengths to make sure that strong bonds form between campers. Counselors often plan team bonding experiences, drive conversations between campers, and sometimes will even get downright silly just to bring their campers together. It’s very possible that your camp counselor could turn out to be your very first friend at camp, and they will surely encourage you to continue to develop positive relationships with other campers as well. Your counselors will get to know every facet of your personality and will help to ensure that you find companions who bring out the best in you. Your counselors are a great support system, so be sure to let them know about any doubts you might have about making new friends and they will be sure to help you out and cheer you on all summer long.
Get started early
Many camps offer meet and greets or open houses before camp starts, and these are a great way to meet a few friendly faces before heading off to camp. Even if you don’t meet your future BFF, knowing a couple of other campers who you can chat with while you acclimate yourself to camp will make you feel more confident about starting camp.
Keep them long term
Having camp friends is great, but making the friends you meet at camp into year round friends is even better. Camp is a great foundation for a friendship, but after camp, maintaining the friendship requires a little bit of effort. Before leaving camp, be sure to exchange phone numbers, email addresses, or social media information so you can keep in contact after leaving camp. If your camp friends live in your area, try to arrange a meetup soon after leaving camp to establish a strong post-camp relationship. If your new friends aren’t local, pick a regular time to FaceTime so you can stay connected even from afar.
It can be pretty stressful going into a new situation without a bestie around, but don’t worry, you will make friends. Because of the dynamics of sleepaway camp, you’ll get to know other campers very quickly. Sharing a room with a bunch of strangers might sound crazy, but in just a few days, those strangers will become the people who you share meals with, take on challenges with, and have a constant string of inside jokes with. Relax and take time to enjoy getting to know the many other campers around you because soon, they won’t just be other campers, they could be some of your very best friends.