This weekend, I spent 11 hours volunteering at a gala to raise money for the camp where I worked last summer. Putting seat covers on 100 chairs, blowing up countless balloons, and trying to coax donations out of guests (my boss recommended that we push the alcohol) was not exactly the way I wanted to spend my Saturday. But I was there to see the rest of the camp staff for the first time since June, and to my amazement, all seven of them showed up.
Living with people other than my family was one of the strangest—and most fun—experiences of my life. Before I started work, I was acquainted with everyone on staff, but didn’t know any of them well. There were about two awkward days when the quieter people in the group (including me) kept to themselves, but it didn’t take long for everyone to get louder, friendlier and weirder.
After a week, I felt at least as comfortable with the rest of staff as I did with friends I’d known half my life. It’s easy to get close to people when you do absolutely everything with them. And last summer’s staff was especially lucky. People who had worked at the camp for years told me that it was the first time they had ever seen a group in which absolutely everyone got along.
When we went home, we were great at keeping in touch with each other—for a couple of weeks. I went from rarely using my phone to being glued to it. I even became obsessed with Snapchat, which I’d previously thought to be idiotic.
But the constant contact didn’t last past the beginning of school, when real life was back in full swing and it was easy to forget how much camp had meant to me only weeks before. Plus, I was back to spending time with other friends, friends that I’d grown close to for reasons other than being thrown together for two months. People complain that there’s no social scene at Country Day, but the friend possibilities feel infinite after spending the summer with the same seven people.
As much as I loved my camp friends, most didn’t share my interests or goals. Most weren’t focused on school and spent significantly more time outside of their houses than I did. They were baffled and amused when, right before SAT scores were posted, I paced in the kitchen checking my phone and cursing the dysfunctionality of the College Board website. Their lightheartedness was welcome during the summer, but has caused us to have very different social scenes during the year.
Sometimes I missed them, but usually I had other things on my mind. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see them again.
But when everyone arrived at the gala, it seemed like nothing had changed. It was eerie to have everyone in the same room for the first time in months. Old, overused inside jokes were resurrected, people’s personal bubbles shrunk, and wildly inappropriate comments were treated like observations about the weather.
Although I wish my camp friends could be as important to me all year as they were over the summer, that’s just not realistic. Even if they lived nearby, I wouldn’t want to go to parties with them, and they wouldn’t want to study with me.
I was delighted by how easy it was to fall back into old camaraderie. This time next year, I’ll be separated from all my old friends, trying to keep in touch and getting caught up in a new routine. But when I come home and see them, I hope I’ll forget about the time that’s passed.