It was a challenging night for our boys to get some sleep. Fans were oscillating in every bunk, trying to move the air to give our guys a little bit of relief. When our boys made their way to breakfast, we made an announcement that all campers should start hydrating. We’re drinking lots of water during all meals, and we’re keeping those water bottles filled throughout the day.
Boys will be boys. They made their way out to their activities to enjoy a full day of fun. Some counselors got creative and modified their program, turning on our underground sprinkler system, and giving our guys a well-deserved and appreciated cool-down.
During the day, one of our older campers came to me for a little advice. He was commenting that he loved his bunkmates, but they had changed, and things weren’t like they were last year. I asked him to articulate, and the camper reflected on fun experiences he had had with his bunkmates in years past. He was quick to mention that he wasn’t feeling left out and nobody was picking on him, things just felt different. I told him that what he was experiencing was normal and that at the end of every summer, each camper goes back to his own home, to his own community, and collects a year’s worth of experiences before returning to camp. While there is a preconceived notion among campers that things will be the same, in reality, we are all developing physically, socially, and emotionally at our own pace. It’s impossible to duplicate the exact experience from summer to summer. I explained that the strength of any relationship was to appreciate the individual and embrace their growth and maturation; no relationships stay the same.
As an example, I highlighted how his own parents’ relationship had evolved over time from getting married, purchasing a home, and having children. All of these changes require patience, compassion, and consideration, and it was important not to be overly judgmental and to criticize those you care about. I suggested that he join his friends in the present rather than reflecting so much on the past. Before this camper left my office, I told him that genuine friendships and healthy relationships take a lot of work. If the feelings are sincere and genuine, then we need to overlook any flaws and idiosyncrasies and not be so judgmental. I hoped that he would return to his bunk and appreciate his friends for who they are becoming, rather than for whom they once were.