It’s time to make plans for summer, and with a gasp, you realize that none of your child’s friends are going the same week as your child. Panic. Will your child be okay going on his own? Should you still send her?
Yes, and yes.
In the obsession over cabin assignments and carpools, we often get wrapped up in thinking that coming to camp with your friends is a make or break piece of the happy camper puzzle. We promise that isn’t true. In fact, coming to camp a different week than your friends or going to a different camp from your friends entirely can actually be super fun and incredibly beneficial.
Here are a few reasons why coming to camp without friends can be a great thing.
You learn how to make new friends.
When put in a situation where they know no one, very few children will sit through the whole week without making friends – especially in a camp setting. Counselors are trained to facilitate group bonding, and programs are designed around teamwork and interaction. Through these things, even introverted campers will make new friends, and that process will stick with them for years to come.
You build new relationships.
In addition to learning how to make new friends, your camper will get to put that into action and actually make new friends. The camp program will help build those new friendships and hopefully turn them into something lasting.
As a camper, our camp director actually tried to attend sessions her friends weren’t going to. Because of that, Allison made incredible new friends outside her hometown. More than ten years later, they were bridesmaids in her wedding. It works!
You gain independence.
When campers come as a group, they tend to want to stick together. They pick beds right beside each other (whether they like the location or not), and they choose the same activities (again – whether they like them or not). When a camper comes without friends by his side, he gets to think about what he really wants to do instead of what his friends want him to do. It’s a great experience!
You see new perspectives.
Campers know what their friends know, and they may think similar to how their friends think. By coming to camp without friends, campers are more likely to meet new people, which might open their eyes to new things.
You can completely be yourself.
Almost any camp will tell you that one of the best things about camp is that it’s a place to be yourself. And that’s true. But if campers come with a group of friends – friends that impact their lives back home – they’re a little less likely to open up.
We’ve seen it happen time and time again – even campers who are shy at home will open up at camp when they don’t have the watchful eyes or pressure from their classmates. They might learn a new skill, or they might become that camp’s new favorite – “crab boy” (we’ve seen it – ask our director).
But my camper is coming with friends!
That’s great, too! There are benefits both ways.
However, if you’d like your camper to experience some of the things listed above, consider not requesting cabinmates and letting her experience new people. Trust us, you’ll be happy you did!