Blog post by Maine Camp Experience Community Manager, Lea Kone.
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
You’ve been asked the question before, “what would you do if you hit the jackpot?” David Brooks answers this question in his recent op-ed in the NY Times last week by envisioning what he would do with $500 million that could affect people in a more “personal and profound way.” His idea: focus on building friendships through a series of adult summer camps.
David points out that the institution of friendship is not in great shape in today’s society. Statistics point to individuals having fewer and fewer significant friendships in their lives, and sadly an increasing number of people who note that they have no friends. This breaks my heart, and scares me tremendously. We now live in a culture where we encounter thousands of digital connections on a daily basis through email, social media etc., yet so few people have friends that they can turn to when they are struggling or want to rejoice.
Friendship is vitally necessary to our human experience, but it is not always easy. Anyone who has started a new school, or moved to a new city alone knows that like love, friendship often requires a spark and the framework to keep the fire burning. In this article, David suggests using the summer camp model because like many of us, his oldest friendships were formed at summer camp. He notes: “you have to get people out of their normal hunting grounds where their guard is up. You also probably want to give them challenging activities to do together. Nothing inspires friendship like selflessness and cooperation in moments of difficulty. You also want to give them moments when they can share confidences, about big ideas and small worries.” Yup, that is summer camp in a nutshell.
We know through anecdotal evidence that friendships formed at camp continue during the year, from summer to summer and into the future (college, careers, marriage, children and camp again). During the year parents can help foster their child’s camp friendships by encouraging emails, phone calls and video chats, as well as by setting up playdates and sleepovers with camp friends living nearby. During the fall and winter months many Maine summer camps host camp reunions that are filled with hugging, smiling and laughing friends. Some camps also host at-camp reunions so campers can reconnect with each other in the place their friendships began many years ago.
We also have noticed Millenials and Gen Y’ers seeking out these types of experiences as well. It may partially be out of nostalgia for their past summer camp experiences, but it is also out of a desire to develop or re-develop meaningful connections in their lives. Events such as these have been popping up at a rapid pace, as are other camp-like events (e.g. Burning Man); like David notes in the article, retreats, themed cruises and conferences.
My camp friends are the closest in my life even now, well into my 30’s. We’ve stood together through heartbreaks, never ending years of college and grad school, traveled together on three continents, through weddings, babies, divorces and the passing of parents. These are friendships deeply rooted in shared experience, connection, respect and love. These are friendships I am blessed to share and that I would be lost without. I wish the same might be true for all people young or old.
Summer camp friendships teach and nurture our lives; Maine Camps have known this and had at their cornerstone for generations, for some more than 100 years.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (2-7 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Camp Guide, about choosing the right camp for your child.