One of the most commonly cited reasons for sending your kids to summer camp is the lifelong friendships they will make. I'm starting to wonder, though, if that is really the case.
Granted, I have an unusual experience with camp. The longest I ever went to a single camp was two summers in a row, and my 20 years experience as a camp counselor is spread across camps all over the company. So maybe I just never stayed in one place long enough to form those really deep bonds.
Still. Sophomore year in high school I went to camp for the full summer. The program was really intense, and we were really close by the end of the summer. There were promises of staying in touch, exchanging letters, and getting together as often as possible...
It happened once, that I was aware of.
Like I said, I didn't return to that camp; most of the rest of the group had been there for years, and would continue to come, as campers and staff, for several more. So I'm sure there were opportunities aplenty for them. But my contact with the group was rare.
Granted, this was in the days before the internet. Keeping a group of 60-or-so teenagers connected pre-email was difficult as best. Have things changed in the era of Facebook? Not really. Again, I'm sure many of my fellow campers were in touch with each other, but none of them were on my friend list.
Then, this summer, one of my camp friends died. As is frequently the case, this tragedy brought the group back together. It started as support for our friend's family, and mutual grieving and remembrance. From there, it grew into a full Facebook group. We caught up on each others' lives and renewed friendships. Plans were made for meetups in Chicago and on the East Coast.
As of today, there has not been a new post in the group since early September.
I'm not casting aspersions. We were part of each others' lives for one summer almost two decades ago; we've moved on since then and made new friends. These people were someone else's friends, a younger version of me who was someone different.
Still and all, it makes me wonder. Is this the typical experience people have with their camp friends, or are they really forming lifelong bonds?