Last summer I attended the 30-year reunion of my CIT summer at camp in Northern Wisconsin. Being back together with our tight-knit group brought me right back to 1988. It was as if no time had passed- we all fell right back into the friendships that are over 30 years old. It’s hard to believe that I’ve known this group for so long. We’ve been in each others’ lives from high school graduation through college, through weddings and babies and now sending our own children to camp and on to become counselors as well.
Some of us have seen each other frequently over the years, and others haven’t seen each other at all, but when we got together it felt as if no time had passed. It made me wonder…. why do camp friendships endure? Camp is an intense time, living in close quarters, sharing laughter, tears, inside jokes and amazing activities. When you’re at camp, you can’t rely on your parents to solve things for you. You learn independence, conflict management, and empathy. Twelve kids sleeping in the same bunk get to know each other quickly, in a way that differs from siblings and school friendships. Silly games, ghost stories and creating traditions forge bonds that last a lifetime. Unplugging intensifies the experience even more.
In my day, we had to write “snail mail” letters to keep in touch with our camp friends during the school year. With social media and cell phones, camp bonds are even stronger now because it’s easier to stay connected even when you aren’t sitting around the campfire. Camp fosters these special friendships that will be cherished over a lifetime.