By Eric Simonson – SB3
My group of fourth-grade boys swim twice a day. When I get my group ready to go to the pool, I yell out, “Everybody find a buddy!” At Shibley Day Camp, we use the Buddy System to ensure safety at the pool. Finding a buddy, though, is not exclusive to going to the pool. One of the best aspects of going to camp is the opportunity to make new friends. Oftentimes, the friends you make at camp go on to be some of your best friends in life—your best buddies, if you will.
When we meet new people, we tend to feel nervous and overwhelmed. We worry about fitting in and getting along with others. Despite these emotions, I have seen so many campers develop new friendships during my time at Shibley, even in the first week of camp. I have seen both sides of the coin—campers who have similar personalities and interests becoming friends, and campers who are seemingly polar opposites hitting it off and becoming incredibly close by the end of the summer. One of the greatest joys of working at camp is seeing these campers come back the following year and pick their friendships right back up where they left off, and many times even hearing about the play dates they had with their camp friends during the school year.
Making new friends might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually very easy. I present to you, “Eric’s Steps to Making a Ton of New Friends at Camp!”
Step 1: Go to camp with a positive mindset. Confucius said one of my favorite quotes, and that is, “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” If you tell yourself that you won’t make any new friends, then you definitely will not. If you tell yourself that you’re excited to make new friends, however, you are setting yourself up for success.
Step 2: Talk to someone new as often as possible. There are so many different ways to do this. You can sit next to someone new at lunch every day, you can choose a different swim buddy every day, or you can go to activities with different campers for each option period. The more campers you open yourself up to, the more campers you will find something—or many things—in common with.
Step 3: Be a good friend to everyone. There are certain characteristics that people who are considered good friends possess. Good friends are supportive and kind. They cheer you on when you’re competing, and they help lift you up in times of disappointment. By being a good friend to everyone, you will become a magnet for new friends.
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” My hope for each and every camper at Shibley is that they leave this summer with more footprints in their hearts than they came with.