Importance of Friendships
One of the main concerns we hear from campers before they attend is that they are nervous about not knowing anyone at camp. Most teens come to camp independently, without a friend or sibling and don’t know anyone upon arrival.
Understandably this can be a bit nerve-racking for many campers, especially those that are more introverted and not as social. Our staff helps bridge any awkwardness on that first day and we often see strong friendships blossom within just a day or two.
Socializing and maintaining friendships is an integral part of teenage years. Friendships teach teens social and emotional skills that help them in adult life. Through our friendships, we learn to be compassionate and empathetic to others who are different than us and outside our family bonds. Friends also create a support system that is different from the ones we rely on our families for.
“But All My Friends Are Online!”
Okay, how many of us have heard this one before? We take away the XBox of Smartphone, we take away our child’s social lifeline. As parents, we need to be the voice or reason here. Yes, it may be true that “all my friends” are playing on the XBox, but why not take a break and go make some new friends? The longer we let this cycle continue, the harder the cycle will be to break as social skill-building opportunities are lost.
Building Resiliency by Developing Social Skills at Camp
Many teens today report that they don’t have as strong of a social network or as deep of friendships as their parents and grandparents did, mostly because of our current use of social media. Social media networks allow us to have an artificial way of partaking in our acquaintances’ lives, liking their posts, commenting on photos, but not actually participating and showing true support.
Often at camp teens find friendships easily because they meet other kids who struggle with some of the same issues and feel the same way they do. It’s easier to break the ice when you aren’t the only shy kid, or the only one trying something new for the first time.
For parents, this can be hard to watch their children go through, as we can’t really help them make friends. But we can help put them in places and situations where they have the opportunity to grow and meet other great kids that they can start to build friendships with, and perhaps carry these friendships back home after camp.
Not only are friends easy to make at camp, we have camper participate in drama and improv activities specifically designed to get them out of their comfort zone. This builds muscle memory of in-person interactions and creates transferrable skills of socializing face-to-face as opposed to internet based socialization.