This article was adapted for length and content. The full article can be read at acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/best-friends-forever-thanks-camp
I met my best friend at summer camp, and indeed, summer camp is the reason our friendship is still alive today. The story goes like this: She was on the top bunk, and I was on the bed beneath hers. Maya forgot to bring a pillow and even though another girl in our cabin had brought two pillows and offered her extra one to anyone who wanted it, Maya was too shy to say anything. Our moms tell us we were 8 and 10 that first year at Camp Cedar Glen, a United Methodist camp in Julian, California.
The majority of Maya’s and my shared memories are of Camp Cedar Glen. Working on elaborate friendship bracelets, carefully choosing when to consume the Caramel Apple Pops Maya’s family provided by way of care packages, sharing observations of counselors, dancing together, and singing loudly. I have great memories of our cabin group taking a moment to turn off our flashlights and check out the stars on our walks back to the cabin after campfire every night. Maya and I weren’t necessarily the camp friends who were inseparable for all activities or meals, but we could read each other like a book and trust the other with our thoughts.
Camp was the one time we could count on seeing each other, and each summer we returned to Camp Cedar Glen eager to be reunited and make new memories that would carry us through the school year until the camp season began again. To this day, Maya and I marvel at how our friendship remained intact, especially during those years that were too early for us to clearly remember. How did we become best friends over the course of those five years spent together at camp? By the time smartphones and other connectional technology had a place in our lives, we were already so firmly cemented as each other’s best friends that it wouldn’t have made a difference. And when I say Maya and I are “best friends” I don’t mean that we were just close the way everyone at camp is a best friend. Maya is my number one and I’m hers.
Simple Tips for Maintaining a Long-Distance Friendship
When you find someone at camp you really click with, taking deliberate steps to maintain that connection when you’re home and far away from each other is worth the effort. It can cement a friendship that will stand the test of time and offer an emotional support system like no other.
Here are just a few easy steps you can take to keep the bond strong in your long-distance friendship:
- Schedule time to talk to one another. While unavoidable interruptions do occasionally happen, don’t cancel your check-in time unless you absolutely have to. You want to send your friend the message that they matter, not the opposite.
- Stay connected through little things. Watch the same movie at the same time. Wear the same goofy T-shirt on the same day.
- Write your friend an actual letter or a postcard. In an age when technology has taken over much of our everyday lives, take the time to handwrite something for your best friend that they can add to their collection of BFF keepsakes.
- Start a book club. Reading a book together will stimulate your imagination and give you even more to talk about during your many phone calls and video chats.
- Reminisce about the good times. Such as the experiences that brought you together in the first place — like camp!
Reprinted from Camping Magazine by permission of the American Camp Association; ©2020 by the American Camping Association, Inc.