My husband took this picture of my older son and a friend at camp drop-off:
Here’s roughly the conversation my husband overheard about 10 seconds before he took the photograph:
“Hey. I remember you.”
“I remember you, too.”
“Want to go up to the Archery Range?”
“Okay. Bye, Dad!”
This conversation, and the moment my husband captured on film immediately afterward, are the very essence of camp. You make friends, you have a blast together for a few weeks, and then you go away for a year. But as soon as you see each other again, you just pick right up where you left off.
My camp friends and I did this every year for the eight years. Then our camp closed, we grew up, and started living lives of our own, all over the country. Then, about 25 years after we last said goodbye as girls at camp, we were reunited when we took our sons to their own camp last year. And you know what? It doesn’t matter if it’s one year, or five years, or even twenty-five years, you still pick up right where you left off. That, to me, is the sign of a true friendship, one that will stand the test of time.
Will my boy’s camp friendships last into his adulthood? Who knows. But what I do know is that the more times he and his friends raid the Trading Post, the more sock wars they wage, and the more sitting around and laughing about nothing that they do, the more likely it is those memories will be gleefully recalled whenever the boys get together again - no matter how much time has passed.
People ask me all the time why I send my boys away to sleep away camp, and the truth is that there are a hundred million reasons that are hard to understand, if you haven’t experienced them yourself. But of all the reasons, the most important to me is this: I want them to learn how to build relationships and make friendships on their own – without the bonds of parents, of school, of sports, of location, of background. That’s why I send my kids to camp. What skill is more important than learning to get along with anyone and everyone? All on your own? I kinda can’t think of one.
So, yes, it’s fun to learn archery, and it’s cool to know how to ride a horse. But to be able navigate a group of people and make your own way, before you’re even eleven? And have a blast doing it? Now, that’s really something, y’all.