An Open Letter to My Camp Friends

Dear camp friend,

As I go about my post-camp life, I am often reminded of the summers I spent as a camper with tan limbs and high spirits, and in turn think about what made it so special to begin with. The reality is that the waterfront location, which was sprinkled with quaint cabins and often visited by red sunsets that nestled into the lake's horizon, mattered much less than one would think. In fact, it was people like you that made me want to count down the days on my calendar until those two weeks arrived each summer.  

I remember when we first met. We were both suffering the effects of tweenhood in full bloom: I was unruly-haired and gangly, you wore a sleeve of friendship bracelets to your elbow and plastered Taylor Lautner posters on the cabin walls. It was a perfect match. On that hot July afternoon, you grinned at me with a mouth full of metal and we became fast friends, talking about anything that rolled out of our mouths as we unpacked our belongings. After a few short days it was like we had known each other for years.

We spent our days under the sun, swimming in the lake and clapping along to camp songs. We spent our nights looking for the constellations as we lay on the basketball courts, then later on sneaking out of our bunks to trade secrets and tell scary stories with the entire cabin after the counselors left. We were each other's first wingwoman at those dances we loathed, we bounced along to the Cotton-Eyed Joe until it was second nature, and we shared stationery, candy, and clothes under the unspoken conditions of positive reciprocity.

My friendship with you is unlike any other. We’ve managed to live with states-- sometimes even countries and oceans-- between us, yet our bond has never folded under the pressure of distance. The several months spent away at school between each summer were merely tests that we consistently passed, proving that our friendship was destined to be lifelong.

Even though we can’t be campers anymore, I know that I will always have you. Thank you for being a constant presence in my life, even when we are so far apart. There’s something really special about growing the way we did. Each summer we came back a little bit older and a little bit wiser, but when we reunited it was like nothing had changed. You made me hold onto my sense of wonder and adventure. Thank you.

We may be (painfully) far apart from each other as we go about our days, but you will always have a place in my heart. Our presences in each other’s lives vary as our days get busier, but that doesn’t change the fact that we will be lifelong friends.

With love,

Your camp friend

All photos courtesy of author