Keep in Touch: A Guide to Maintaining Friendships in the Summer

School’s out, and summer is finally here! Whether you’re headed for camp, jetting away on vacation, or taking some time to hang out at home with your family, the next two months are bound to bring lots of fun and relaxation. It seems like everyone around you is beyond excited to kick off their summer plans. So is it crazy that you’re feeling a little sad/anxious about the idea of being away from your friends for the summer?

Actually, what you’re feeling is not uncommon at all. It can be hard to say goodbye to friends when the school year ends, especially if you’re all heading in different directions for the next two months. You may be bummed about the fact that you won’t get to see each other every day in homeroom, and you may be worried that the friendship will start to fade during your time apart.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to keep your friendships going strong, even when you can’t hang out as much as you’d like. Need some ideas? Give these tips a try:

Make a Plan to Keep in Touch: Before you go your separate ways, find out how your friends will be spending their summers. Then, ask for the best way to contact them while you’re apart. If your friend is headed for sleep away camp, you’ll probably need to write them letters the old fashioned way, so be sure to get the address. If they’ll be traveling with family for the summer, ask when and if it’s okay to text them. And make sure they know the best way to contact you as well. By checking in every once in a while, you can stay involved in each other’s lives, even when you’re miles apart.

Take Lot’s of Pictures: Talk to your friends about exchanging pictures throughout the summer, especially if one of you is headed somewhere cool on vacation. Even snapping a few shots at a barbecue is a great way to let your friends know that you want to share your experiences with them. You don’t have to post anything to Facebook, if you don’t want to. You could email pictures instead, or even get actual prints of the photos. Just keep in mind that if you want to include other people in your pictures, you should get their permission first!

Share a Summer Hobby: Try choosing a book that you’d both like to read this summer, and commit to finishing it before September. Or agree to watch the same TV show, or work on the same arts&crafts project. This is another great way to feel connected to each other, and it will give you lots to talk about when you finally get to meet up in person. Of course, this idea will likely take some compromise. Before you agree to take on a summer hobby, make sure it’s something you’ll both enjoy, otherwise it’ll feel like work instead of a fun activity.

Meet Up when you Can: Don’t just assume that if you’re both busy this summer, hanging out will be impossible. It may take some work and lots of patience, but you can probably still find some time to get together and share stories about what you’ve been up to. Of course, if one of you is headed for sleep away or a long trip, this may not be possible until the very end of summer. Although that seems far away now, it doesn’t hurt to make some open-ended plans to catch up. Just let your friend know that you’d be interested in getting together when he/she is home so you can tell each other all about your time apart. It might put your mind at ease to know that eventually you’ll get to spend some time together before school starts, even if it won’t be for a while.

Be Flexible: Plans tend to be a little more casual in the summer. Your friend may expect to be home at the end of July, only to learn that his/her parents booked a last minute trip to the beach. Or maybe some relatives popped in from out of town. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be aware that plans often change in the summer, and you’ll need to be understanding of that. While it can be frustrating and disappointing when plans fall through, it does not mean that your friend doesn’t want to see you. Try not to take it personally. You don’t want your friends to feel stressed out about vacations or family activities. Instead, tell them to have fun, and let them know you want to hear all about it when they get home.

No matter what your plans are this summer, it’s totally possible to keep a good friendship going strong over the next two months. With a little planning and preparation, you can stay connected to your friends, even when you can’t hang out in person. Even something small, like a postcard or a text message can go a long way to let your friends know you’re still thinking about them, and help ensure that when September rolls around, you’ll be ready to pick up right where you left off!

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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