Summer camp is an $18 billion industry. From day camps to overnight camps, over 14,000 facilities exist in the United States.
Residents range from youth to adults, totaling a whopping 14 million. This pastime exists and thrives for a reason. Once there, the exposure to fun adventures, the environment, and friendship is large.
Overnight camps especially allow opportunities for bonding.
Even hesitant attendees find themselves adjusting over time. Living for the nights of staying up late giggling. Hanging by the fire with a marshmallow at the end of a stick. Taking polaroid photos and fishing.
These exciting moments are the ones you share with your camp friends. It’s easy to make friends at overnight camps. After all, you’re in this together.
But staying in touch? Not always that easy.
Don’t let those memories go! Use these tips to stay in touch with your camp friends.
1. Don’t Underestimate Snail Mail
There’s no doubt about it. Pen pals aren’t as much of a thing anymore. But they should be.
Think about the shortness of text. How swift it can be. How computerized and impersonal.
Now think about the childlike excitement of receiving a letter in the mail. It’s not a bill or an advertisement you don’t need. It’s something sentimental and hand-written.
This can be anything from a long letter to a simple “Hello” on a postcard.
Consider the passion project by Frank Warren, PostSecret. The idea was that anyone could send in an anonymous postcard with a secret on it. Most cards contain creative imagery, interesting photos, collaged artwork.
Frank’s idea grew from a minimal amount of submissions a week to at least 200 per day. People caught on to it. Many realized they enjoyed building something and then mailing it in.
Don’t save the snail mail for only Grandma (but keep writing to her, too). Bring back the pen pal!
2. Take Photos. . . Then Make a Scrapbook
While you’re at camp, take a few photos. Take some selfies with your camp friends. But also take photos of the counselors; your bunk bed; the obstacle course.
Have your friends do the same. Disposable cameras are great for this. They offer that grainy look and feel that summer camp embodies.
Then make a scrapbook of your camp memories. Doing activities together is not something you’ll be new to any longer. One more project will solidify the awesome times you had. It’ll also give you something to reminisce on when you’re feeling nostalgic.
Make only one and mail it back and forth periodically. Or make doubles of your photos and each of you makes your own unique scrapbook. Like letters, scrapbooks are sentimental, tangible evidence of your memories from camp.
3. Plan Fun Visits
Some overnight camps are farther away from others so this may not be a frequent thing for you and your camp friends. But whether you’re near or far, don’t miss out on annual opportunities for meet-ups.
Recreate past activities that are camp-related: fishing; swimming; hiking; getting dirty. Or clean yourselves up and go out to the movies or dinner. But seeing each other in person is one of the best ways to keep your friendship alive.
4. Use The Phone for Calling (Not Just Texting)
Talking on the phone is a lost art. (Jeez – a lot of these are lost arts, right?) Camp is an opportunity to bring true connection to the surface.
A text here and there is great. But a phone call is more thoughtful.
Use your phone to make phone calls instead. And when you do it, here are 3 ways to make a deeper connection:
- Think about specific points you’re concerned about or interested in ahead of time
- Be ready to talk at the time you’ve chosen
- Don’t just talk; listen
A phone call might make you feel like you need to fill the silence with chatter. But be ready to have a conversation the same way you would in person. Normal bouts of silence are fine; talking over each other isn’t.
5. Birthday Appreciation
Birthdays are a great opportunity once a year to show some love. Use a reminder on your phone if you have to. Circle it ten times on your calendar.
Show him or her you think about them. Mail them a card or a gift on time. Or better yet, early!
Think about how good it feels to receive some recognition on your day. Now do the same for them.
6. Show Love on Social Media
A like here and there is great. But a kind comment? Or a concerned direct message? Even more involved. And thus, more effective at retaining a great friendship.
Resist the urge for a mindless scroll. Say “Hey, you look great today!” or “Awesome photo skills!” It really doesn’t matter what you say; only that you say something.
The gist of this idea, and most of the others on this list, is active work in your relationship. A lifelong friendship requires participation and effort. It’s a relationship worth cultivating.
7. Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations
And last but not least, try to be understanding with each other.
No matter how good your (or their) intentions, life gets in the way. And sometimes they will promise to call you back, but they’ll forget. And that’s okay because you’ll do the same thing sometimes.
Remember that we’re all human and forgiveness and understanding are key to growth. Putting hard-to-meet expectations on a friendship could be more stressful than it is pleasurable.
Got Any Other Ideas for Staying in Touch?
Then don’t be afraid to do those, too. When it comes to maintaining a beautiful friendship, there’s never too much you can do. And never too little.
Overnight camp can change and shape a life. You could show up alone and leave with a best friend. Two best friends. A whole group of kindred spirits.
The opportunity to make friends is there the moment you show up. But the moment you leave, staying in touch is all up to you. Not your camp counselors, but you.
It’s easy to let life get in the way. But don’t let it. Meaningful friendships enrich lives and improve your health.
What’s better than that?
Check out our blog for more great information on overnight camps.