I recently saw a documentary that had some pretty profound thoughts about how people form and maintain deep friendships. In it, country singer Trey Hirsch was interviewed, and he bemoaned how much harder it is to make new and close friendships later in life. His analysis was that this was due to two important factors: how little quality time most adults get to spend with new people, and how few opportunities there are to truly let yourself be vulnerable with one another once you reach a certain age.
I write a lot about how the friendships made at our summer camp in NH last a lifetime. Spending 7 weeks together collaborating as teammates, cast members, or bunkmates creates a foundation for friendship like I just have never seen anywhere else. Just last week I posted a series of blogs about how much our campers, counselors, camp parents, and even alumni love spending time together, even years or decades after their summers at Kenwood and Evergreen are a distant memory. There are two recent events in our Camp community that demonstrated the incredible lengths people will go to celebrate with the K&E camp friends.
Camp friendships: it's one of our favorite topics. Our brother-sister community is, at its core, about bringing friendly young people together to develop friendships that will last a lifetime. In Tuesday's blog I posted the dozens of recent photos sent to us by current campers and counselors from their time spent hanging out together. Today we are excited to share photos from some of our alumni who even years or decades after spending summers together at our overnight camp are still making time to be with their camp friends.
After the amazing Boston and Rhode Island camp reunion last Saturday, I've spent a lot of time thinking a lot about how wonderful and powerful it is that our community creates such fantastic camp friendships. Since the day Camp ended in August our campers, counselors, alumni, and event camp parents have been using their free time to hang out with the many friends they have met since joining our brother-sister camp community.
As we approach the start of the summer of 2016 it is wonderful to see so many of our campers, counselors, and even alumni getting together. Over the weekend the Hughes, Dank, Finard, Rosenberg and Tanguay girls got together for some good times while on Nantucket.
I use this blog to write a lot about the powerful friendships our campers, counselors and camp parents form in our community. Yesterday I wrote about the more than a dozen great photos of K&E camp friends hanging out together that I received in just the past week. And as I looked at each image I was struck by the incredible positive energy radiating from everyone's faces. These weren't just aquaintences posing for a selfie -- these were people of all ages who feel an intense connection to one another, and who find that being together makes their lives more fulfilling. These camp friendships created at our brother-sister summer camp mean so much to us all.
I got back from vacation to find my email inbox FILLED with photos of our K&E camp friends hanging out with each other all over the world this week. Lowell hung out with Ben, Nate, Elliot, Jake, Posner, Nathaniel, Russell, Maddy and Reid, while former counselors Eddie, Mark, Luke and Amanda had a mini-reunion in the UK. On trips to Florida Brenna, Abby, and Lexi hung out with Mia and Daniella, and Ari, Carly, Rebecca, Mia and Oliver did too!
Our summer camp community really loves being together. The friendships made at our brother-sister summer camp run deep, and seem to last forever.
When we ask our campers and counselors at our brother-sister summer camp what their favorite thing is about our summer camp community the first response we always get it "my camp friends!" During our 7 week together each summer our friendships grow incredibly strong -- so strong, in fact, that our campers and counselors (and even alumni and parents) spend a great deal of their time during the winter months making sure they see their camp friends as much as possible.
We have some amazing camp counselors and I want the world to know how thoughtful, passionate, and committed they are to providing our campers with the best summer experiences possible. Throughout the year I ask our coaches, art teachers, and bunk counselors to write about why they love what they do, and why they get so much out of working in our summer camp community.
The incredible summer of 2015 at our camp in New Hampshire is sadly now over, which means that we have all had to get back to our “real” lives. Most campers have returned to school by now, and our staff is either back at their off-season jobs or resuming their studies. I know that I speak for everyone on the Camp Leadership Team when I say that we all miss our community very much. We miss the hugs and high fives of morning assembly, the laughter and cheering that wafts through the trees throughout each camp day, and singing Taps together each night before bed.
You may have noticed that there was no new blog yesterday morning. I was out of Camp for the past few days leading an outdoor adventure trip up in Canada. Every year I have the pleasure of taking Hut 6, our oldest male campers, up to Montreal. We pack a lot into the trip. We tour the old city, take in some its most famous cathedrals and art museums, ride a jet-powered boat across the rapids of the St. Lawrence River, play laser tag in a labrynth the size of a city block, and a whole lot more.
What's more important during childhood than making lifelong friendships? In our opinion, nothing. Developing a close-knit group gives you a sense of belonging and security that is vital for proper social and emotional development. Frankly, it's of paramount importance in adulthood, too. Making lasting, meaningful friendships is what our overnight camp community is all about, and it still never ceases to amaze me how powerful these relationships are.
This has been quite a month for people sending us photos of their great times with their camp friends. I'm not even sure where to begin...
Since the New Year we have been inundated with pictures and stories at Camp friends seeing each other over the last few weeks. Some of these gatherings were planned, while others were purely accidental. There were sleepovers, birthday parties, mini-reunions, and even trips to other countries! We love how much our Camp community loves being together, and how so many Camp friendships span years and even decades of time!
Where to begin...?
In our first batch of photos, sent to us by campers and counselors, we had a sleepover after the Camp reunion in Boston; cousins hanging out together on the beach; a vacation to Michigan to visit a long-time close camp friend; a big sleepover in the Boston area; two former campers hanging out with their counselors from YEARS ago (including one who flew in from the UK); a reunion of Kenwood campers playing Gaga in NYC; and a massive, multi-family trip to Mexico that included current Camp parents, alumni from the 70's, 80's and more recent era, one of our fabulous Camp nurses, and a whole lot of Kenwood and Evergreen campers Yes, everyone on the trip was related to each other, but they still had more than a dozen members of our NH summer camp community on the trip, and we think that's just awesome!
The Power of Making Friends at Summer Camp
Camps Kenwood and Evergreen is a pretty powerful community to belong to. In this age of social media I regularly see reunions of people who grew up or worked at our camp who have been friends for decades. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all of the marriages that are a result of meeting on our campus in NH. I also regularly see new friendships forming at events like this past weekend’s party for new and veteran campers. Our campers, staff, parents and alumni know that they are simultaneously members of our larger Camp K&E family, while also belonging to either the Camp Kenwood Brotherhood or the Camp Evergreen Sisterhood. While I am reminded of this almost every day, I recently experienced an example that will stick with me for some time.
Each year, at the end of the summer, I have the opportunity to compose a letter to our community in our yearbook called The Scroll. In writing it I employ a literary device in that my note is actually a letter to guy named Gordon Novod. Gordon is a former camper and counselor, and was my best friend when I was a camper at Kenwood and Evergreen. He’s now a very successful bankruptcy attorney in New York City with a very happy family. Each year, I have a conversation with him on paper in which I write about the great moments of the summer that he missed, the amazing personalities at Camp that summer, and about how powerful and meaningful it is for me as one of the leaders of this overnight camp community.
An article about how Jason & Deena met at our brother/sister summer camp in NH
There are many reasons why friendships made at our brother/sister summer camp in NH last a lifetime. Our campers quickly learn that our community values being a good friend above all else. Our counselors model kindness and approachability at our new camper events, on the bus ride to NH, and from the moment children step onto campus. Once a part of our summer camp in NH children learn how to be their best selves, which helps them forge deeper and longer-lasting relationships.