The best camp friends feel like you’ve known them all your lifeJanuary 25, 2016
No matter who you are or what your age, when you join a summer camp community you hope to make friendships that will last a lifetime. Beyond the activities, the campfires, and even the s’mores, you hope that you will meet some great people whom you can trust, share your interests, and make you laugh so hard that your in jokes have in jokes.
While the cold of January can make our beautiful NH summers seem like a lifetime away, it’s also a month where a lot of us in our brother-sister summer camp family get to spend time some quality time with our camp friends. Two weeks ago we had our 16th annual Senior Camper Winter Weekend in NH. More than 100 campers and counselors traveled up to our campus in NH for sledding, snow ball fights, rides on a horse draw sleigh, and laser tag in the dark. Throughout the weekend our entire leader team kept discussing how quickly our campers reconnected with their camp friends, even if they hadn’t seen each other in almost 6 months! There’s just something about the friendships that are formed in our community!
Last week more than 30 of our English and American counselors got together for what is now a 10+ year annual camp counselor reunion. Though most in attendance did not go to our camp as children, their deep friendships made during their summers at our overnight camp are no less meaningful and life-altering.
This coming Saturday more than 200 of our campers (along with their parents and siblings) will join us for a camp celebration at the Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT. It will be an evening of playing sports, watching our annual video yearbook and all sorts of other fun. But most importantly, this gathering will be all about bringing our camp friends together. Our families come from all over the country for this event, as our kids just miss their summer experience of seeing their camp friends day in and day out over an entire summer. At Kenwood and Evergreen our friendships turn people from around the US and the world into some of the most important people in our lives.
Which leads me to this photo:
How great are these haircuts?
During the winter weekend one of our camp parents sent it to me. Her name is Stacy Emanuel (formerly Stacy Kaufman) and our camp is a very special place for her family. Over the weekend she was going through a box of photographs from her teen years, and she came across a stack from an event in 1985 with her Temple Youth Group. Looking at this faded, blurry picture she recognized friends from her teen years, but there was someone in it she didn’t quite remember. Studying it closer she realized that the young woman in the white shirt and jeans was someone she had thought she had only met when she became a camp parent. Second from the left is a teen Stacy Millender (now Stacy Schwartz) mom of K&E camper Sam Schwartz. Since joining our community the two moms have become quite close, and their sons are best buddies. They somehow met on this Jewish Youth Group trip, and not remembered each other. As Stacy Emanuel’s husband Doug said to me “UNREAL. The kids were destined to be friends”. I’d say he’s right, but that the parents were destined as well.
Year after year I hear from our camp parents that one of the best surprises about being in the K&E family is the friendships they’ve formed with other camp parents. It starts with looking forward to catching up on visiting day. Then it evolves into going out for dinners and time spent together while carpooling to sleepovers. Sometimes it even becomes vacations together. There is just something powerful and special about how everyone in our community bonds with one another.