When you’re put in situations like attending camp, it’s easy to make friends fast. Everyone comes ready to meet new people and find people to cling to for the short time you’re there. The relationships grow deep fast. The atmosphere is built for these quality friendships to happen.
The real trick to this is maintaining these friendships once you leave the camp atmosphere. Years of camp has taught me a lot about how to intentionally foster friendships, because once you let go they’re usually gone.
A lot of times these relationships end up being with people who live nowhere near you. Long distance relationships stink. Friendships included. You meet spectacular people who you have a lot in common with. But, unless you take time to make an effort to maintain it, the distance drives that connection apart.
More often than not, my camp friendships turned into Facebook likes and comments rather than meaningful conversations over the phone or Skype. However, there are a few that I’ve kept close to my heart rather than on my social media.
The key, I’ve found, is remembering that it’s a two-way effort. You have to remember that it takes both people reaching out to initiate conversation. Take time out of the day to send a quick hello over text, set up a time to talk over the phone, or write a meaningful letter.
Keep up to date on what’s going on in their lives. Know what their triumphs and trials are, and walk with them through that. Sometimes distance makes it easier to be a good support because you’re removed and have a good perspective. It’s helpful when asked for advice.
Not knowing everyone in their life can also be a good way to get to know your friend better. Ask them about the people they’ve mentioned or the ones in their photos. The way they talk about the people in their lives says a lot about them.
Find a time to hang out. This can be the hard one. Invite them to visit, or make the effort to go visit them. Get to know they place they call home. It’s important to take turns when you do this. Share the travel expenses. But make a point to do so to get some quality time in face to face.
I’ve seen successes and failures with this. Though, as many times as I have failed to maintain a truly solid friendship, I have been beyond blessed with the ones I have kept.
Sometimes your camp friends from across the state end up at the same school as you, and become your sorority sister and one of the best friends you’ll ever have.