A Timberlake mother once confessed to be confused after camp.  Her son had “an amazing time” at camp and she witnessed clear indicators of this awesomeness when picking him up on the last day.  “I made lifelong friends at my camp, but my son doesn’t seem to have made any close friends at Timberlake,” she puzzles. Why does she believe this despite an overall excellent experience?  Because he doesn’t keep in touch.  He doesn’t write or call.  What’s happening here is a mismatch between this mother’s lived experience and what she sees in that of her child.

I have witnessed a strong tendency towards “out of sight, out of mind” in Timberlake friendships.  Whether we wish to apply judgement upon this and work to change it is a different choice than if we agree that it is a pattern.  I often hear a note of surprise from TL-ers when asked why they don’t write and keep in touch.  The answer seems obvious to them: the friendship is based on actually doing things and having shared experiences together.  When apart, the friendship is mutually agreed upon to be at rest until happily reactivated when friends are reunited.

At Timberlake there are innumerable opportunities for public appreciation of sincere emotions ranging from heartfelt kind words to tears and hugs. These “face to face” expressions of friendship are extremely important, yet the default is often a “shoulder to shoulder” bonding over working or playing together.

I encourage us all not to judge the depth of the connection by how it translates to a well-maintained long-distance friendship.  It may not. I also encourage all parents not to underestimate the power of a camp friendship that is apparently dormant. Try asking your child if they would like to try to get together with a camp friend to meet up for a hike or go swimming –  anything they may find active and exciting.  The results of their reunion may surprise you. I have heard first-hand accounts of how delighted parents were to see their kids laughing and playing immediately upon seeing their cabin-mates again.  There were no awkward verbal exchanges: it happened without a moment’s hesitation. This default to the present moment is a gift.

My wish is that my observations and comments prove useful for any Farm and Wilderness family who has wondered about sparse communication from their child and friends after camp. I encourage you all to try some “shoulder to shoulder” fun (and even work!) in the off season as well as “Facetime”. The payoffs will be bigger than keeping up via social media.

-Tulio Browning, Off-Season Director Support Staff

If you live near Brooklyn, NY and want a chance to meet up with F&W friends, join us at Prospect Park for a free hike and picnic Nov. 10 at 10am. Click HERE to register or for more information.

We encourage campers to keep in touch during the off-season. Did you lose touch with a friend? We can help. F&W doesn’t give out personal information without permission; however, we can send a message to a parent with your email and/or phone number and a request for them to get in touch with you.  Contact Sam in admissions or your Camp Director for assistance.



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