A little more than a week ago, we held our first two off-season reunions in New York and Boston. As always, it was great to see so many of our campers and provide them with time and space to reconnect with camp friends.
Inevitably, there is some trepidation as these event gets underway. Will I know anyone there? Will anyone remember me? I’m hungry, will there be food? And, inevitably, the answers are yes, yes, and of course.
What was most striking for us as we approach our third summer was to see how these two events differed from the ones of previous years. It was clear that the connections are deeper and the friendships are stronger. But it wasn’t always this way when we had to facilitate introductions or spur on conversations. This time we served pizza and filled drink pitchers, and we could not have been happier doing so.
Watching these relationships evolve to this place is a good reminder that a child’s growth at camp (or anywhere for that matter) takes time. This is a slow burn for most kids. Learning how to waterski, overcoming a fear of homesickness, advocating for oneself, or making a best friend does not happen overnight or sometimes even in one summer. We live in a time where we all expect instant responses and immediate results, but there’s no checklist of accomplishments that a camper must complete upon returning home. That’s stressful and unfair.
Look for growth, albeit incremental, such as a greater willingness to try new things, more helpful with chores around the house, or increased social awareness. At camp, everyone walks at a different pace (literally and figuratively), but there’s always a friend or counselor willing to hang back or wait up. Eventually, we all get there together.