How to Make Friends at Summer Camp

One of the cool things about summer camp is that it gives you a chance to hang out with tons of new people, who you may not get to meet during the school year. This is a great opportunity to make new friends. But it can also be a little scary. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out the best way to bond with people you don’t know much about. And now that summer is in full-swing, you might be getting nervous if you haven’t found a solid friend group yet.

Luckily, there’s still time for that to change. Camp friends can be a great addition to your social circle, and these friendships often last long after the summer is over. So it’s worth making the effort to connect with the kids at your camp. Not sure how to get started? These tips might help:

Get to Know Your Group: Usually, campers are separated into groups, teams or bunks. Make it your goal to talk to at least one kid in the group each day. You don’t need to worry about being the funniest, most interesting, or most outgoing kid in the whole camp. Just be yourself, and be open to getting to know the person you’re talking to. Ask which camp activity is their favorite, or ask them about their school. You don’t have to become friends with every person you talk to. For now, just focus on getting to know everyone, and seeing where you have common ground.

Listen to Others:
In a camp setting, you might find that most of your conversations are taking place in a group. That means you won’t have as much control over what’s being discussed, and you may have a hard time steering the conversation away from topics that don’t interest you. That doesn’t mean you should check out if you get bored, or start talking over other members of the group. Instead, listen to the conversation, and respect whoever is speaking. Ask questions, and make contributions when you can. You’ll make more friends by being polite and engaged, than you will by acting rude and disinterested.

Be Supportive: Whether they’re playing a sport, performing in a play, or working on an art project, everybody wants to feel good about themselves at camp. Being overly critical of someone else can lead to hurt feeling, and unnecessary drama. So try to build the members of your group up, instead of tearing them down. When it’s appropriate, try offering a compliment, or cheering somebody on. Remember, camp is a place where everyone wants to have fun. People will be more likely to hang out with you if you make them feel confident and happy, rather than stressed or judged.

Be a Joiner: Don’t be scared to participate in an activity you’ve never tried before. Don’t refuse to be a part of an activity, just because it’s not your favorite. You may feel shy about dressing up for theme days, or getting involved in events, but you also might regret keeping to yourself too much. The more you join in on, the more opportunities you’ll have to bond with the rest of your camp group. You don’t have to be the best at everything you try. But if you give it a shot, and aim to have fun, you’ll have lots of chances to build new friendships, and strengthen the ones that are already forming.

Go with the Flow: It’s easy to get comfortable with certain routines, but it’s important to remember that things are often pretty laid back at camp. Activities may be moved or cancelled for special events, or because of rain. Rules that are enforced at your school may not exist at your camp. Holding on too tightly to routines, or insisting that things be done exactly the way you want, can put a damper on your experience, and everyone else’s. Instead, be willing to go with the flow. It will make the day run more smoothly for the whole group, and that will help others to feel more comfortable being around you.

Sometimes, it takes a few weeks to get your bearings at summer camp. But if you haven’t found yourself a group of friends yet, there’s no need to stress. You’ve still got some time left to try out our tips, and make some connections at your camp. By making an effort to get to know your group, and taking advantage of all the camp has to offer, you’ll stand a solid chance at forming friendships that last you through the summer, and even into the school year.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More