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The Friendship Funnel

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Have you ever noticed the most frequent topics of traditional camp songs? Do any of these lines sound familiar?…while among our friends we’ll ne’er forget… …remember the friends who love you… …Loving friends around us… …and joy of making friends sincere…Clearly, camp is a place where friendship is valued. Attending camp is like jumping into a very large funnel. Each camper and staff member differs by experience, geography, school, age, ethnicity, and gender. It’s broad just like the top of a funnel and a cross-section of society. As campers share campfire stories, sing silly songs together, conduct capers, learn to canoe, bonds of friendship are formed. At the end of a camp session and just like the bottom of a funnel, common experiences have brought campers and staff closer together. Why is friendship important to a child’s development? There’s no doubt that friends significantly impact a child’s health. New York Times writer Roni Caryn Rabin describes friends as “valuable assets” for children. In her article, Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic, and Relationships, Ms. Rabin highlights a study focused on the psychological benefits of friendships. Why is camp a special place for friendship to be cultivated? First, a camp setting provides a fresh start. This is a setting where kids’ peers are not the same kids with whom they attend school, church, or live in the same neighborhood. There are no preconceived notions. For first timers, the majority of campers are new to the environment of camp, too, which helps kids make friends by bonding over these new experiences. It is a community where relationships have been nurtured for over 85 years. Alumni who return to reunions greet one another with big hugs and almost immediately start singing camp songs in unison after 40-50 years of being separated from camp friends and camp provide proof that camp is a setting for a common bond.

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