Updated: Mar 22
Of all the fun activities kids experience while at camp, making friends is at the top of the list. The combination of camp and friendship is the magic that every camp operator hopes to provide. Making friends helps kids develop important life skills like working out conflicts, coming up with solutions and enjoying the company and support of others. Some kids like to have lots of friends while others are very happy to limit their circle of friends…and that’s okay.
While at home, play dates, school, sports and various social organizations create a steady supply of other children to make friends with. However, new campers start with a clean slate at camp and the sooner they begin making friends the more enjoyable camp will be.
Here are a few ideas that will help: Remind your child that most new campers feel nervous and perhaps a little lonely initially. The sooner they make an effort to interact with other kids, the better they’ll feel. The good news is they’ll also receive lots of support and encouragement from staff which will make the process of building friendships much easier. They understand that when kids (like adults) are in new situations surrounded by new people, they usually need some time and support to get comfortable with their new environment. They’ll be lots of support that encourages making new friends throughout the camp experience.
Another idea is to do some role playing so they’re comfortable when the opportunity to make a new friend presents itself. It’s a good idea to talk about how they can “break the ice” and have some fun practicing with them. For instance, pretend you’re hopping on a bus to camp together and show your camper how to get the ball rolling by making friends even before arriving at camp. Remind them to smile, ask if they can sit next to them and simply start with an energetic “Hi” followed by an introduction. Then ask “What’s your name?” From there, ask if they’ve gone to camp before and what it’s like. What’s do they like to do? From there the conversation will naturally evolve to any number of topics: sports, camp food, some jokes…you name it! They’re sure to find things they have in common.
Whether the first interaction with a potential friend works out long term or not, be sure to encourage them to continue with this “friendly” approach and new friends are sure to come.