Friends. One of the most cherished parts of camp is the friends we make. There’s something about ALC friendships that is different, that seems to stand the test of time in a distinct way.
There are 4 key ingredients that contribute to the unique connection we have with our camp friends: time together, trust, shared experiences, and kindness.
Camp gives us the gift of uninterrupted time together with our friends. This time may be spent together in activities, on a trip, at meals, or in the tent. Most importantly, it is time spent together in person. In this era of virtual meetings, we cherish this more than ever. Our campers find themselves grateful to be together, listening to each other, laughing and crying together. Current campers speak about how thankful they are to be away from their screens and the pressure of social media - to have permission to be real, and as one alumna put it a few years ago, to not be “Instagram perfect”.
After all, time together in camp isn’t perfect and that’s part of the beauty. Friendships grow stronger through the challenging moments we have with one another. As Alford Lakers grow and become stronger, more confident young women, they are able to listen to each other, appreciate differences of opinions, and learn to respect one another.
Our time together helps us deepen our trust in one another. Trust is gained when we let our guard down and allow our friends to see us at our most vulnerable moments - when we are trying something new in an activity, when we are learning how to live in our small tent groups, and when we dare to share our thoughts and opinions with one another, knowing that our friends will listen respectfully.
Because we are in camp together for the summer, we have ample opportunities to do things together. It is through these moments that we are able to deepen our connections with one another. One staff member recalls going on the Mahoosucs hiking trip as a camper, attributing that experience as the foundation for one of her closest friendships. She remembers that the bonds of friendship developed not only through the time spent conquering the Notch, but also in smaller moments like setting up tents at their campsites, all while laughing through their exhaustion and the thrill of the day’s accomplishments. These shared experiences provide us with opportunities to learn more about one another and to deepen our trust and belief in our ALC friends.
Kindness is at the heart of our ALC experience and it enables us to be more confident and open with our friends. Our culture of kindness creates a community that feels emotionally safe and respectful for campers and counselors alike. We see this happen daily as campers of all ages connect with each other in small and big ways - walking hand in hand up the hill, listening intently as someone shares a thought, or hugging a tentmate to celebrate a new accomplishment.
While there are other elements that help us develop solid friendships at camp, we know that these key ingredients are consistently part of what make ALC friendships unique. We witness the strength of ALC friendships through the voices of our Alumnae. These women speak of their lasting connections long after they leave ALC. We are thankful for the depth of Alford Lake friendships, forged through our time together, shared experiences, trust, and kindness. The genuine nature of Alford Lake friendships helps create bonds that will potentially last a lifetime.