It’s my first time at summer camp — how can I make friends?

You got this, says our elder. Life is always about trying something new.

Dear EWC

I am about to leave for a few days for camp. I am going alone without friends or family. My school is very small so friends aren’t hard to make. I have never been put in a situation where I have to make friends. I really need some advice to help me make new friends.

Cairnie replies

The first thing I want to say is “Good for you!” for going outside your comfort zone and going to camp not yet knowing anyone. It sounds exciting, and scary and unpredictable (because you’ve never done anything like this before, right?).

You got this. This summer’s experience will give you the confidence to know that you can handle new experiences. Why do I say that? Because I predict that you will have a wonderful time. I imagine you bravely introducing yourself to other girls in your cabin, in the dining hall, in group activities and other campers who seem interesting and fun to know.

I imagine you taking deep breaths, reminding yourself that camp can be loads of fun, and that you’ll be doing things you enjoy, learning new skills and sports (or art, or crafts, or…). Some people go back to camp year after year, become counselors at the same camp, and make friends for life. Other people go just once (like me) and decide that they will try other summer experiences in future years.

I write this to say that you don’t know unless you try. Life is a series of trying new things — whether it’s a new school or job, a new city or place of worship, a new team or club, or just a new neighbor or new activity. Doing new things is how we learn and grow, developing our potential.

It sounds like camp this summer is a great opportunity to practice trying new things and meeting new people, and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Sign up for things. Say “yes” to things you want to do. Be helpful. Find other campers who are also new — they probably feel the same way you do!

Basically what I’m trying to say is to expect it to be somewhat hard at the beginning, especially if it appears that everyone else knows each other already. I can’t believe that there won’t be other new campers there like you. So be yourself, do the things you enjoy doing, try new things, and notice who else seems to be repeating in your orbit. They likely will have a similar schedule and you will see them regularly. Say hello. Ask if they’ve been to this camp (or any camp before). See what you have in common. Take an interest and see what you have in common.

Friendships often happen naturally, when we are just living our lives and doing things we enjoy while being with and being interested in others. I think you will do fine. Be patient, be a good listener, take an interest in others, do things that interest you and keep breathing. You’ll be making friends and having fun before you know it!

Have a great time at camp!

Letter #: 441766
Category: Friendship

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