Building friendships that last

Kat and Becca first met as young girls at Camp Wood YMCA. Their friendship grew every summer as cabin-mates and later, as college roommates at the University of Kansas. This summer, they’ll work alongside one another as staff members—mentoring young campers and encouraging friendships to blossom--just like theirs did so many years ago. Below, Kat shares some of her memories and thoughts about this special camp friendship.

A shared cabin turns strangers into friends

In an age when most children don’t have to share a bedroom with even one sibling, the summer camp experience of sharing sleeping space with 9 other people is often a totally new and challenging experience. But it’s an experience that lends itself well to engaging face to face with fellow campers and often results in the bonds of friendship. For Kat and Becca, the friendship they forged in camp’s little red cabins as young campers is still going strong today.

“Our first year in a cabin together was extra special, we were a crazy group of girls and we all had an amazing time together--although I have no idea how my counselor was able to handle us because we really were little energizer bunnies. The girls in that cabin were probably the coolest people I have ever met,” remembers Kat. “I had no idea what my next cabin would be like without them, but much to our surprise, Becca and I were put in the same cabin yet again the following year.”

The following summer, worried that a change in her summer schedule had ruined the girls’ chances of sharing a cabin again, Kat arrived at camp thinking she had missed her chance to see Becca. “But by some miracle from the camp gods, who was sitting on their bunk when I walked in?” recalls Kat, “none other than Becca!”

That week, the girls attended Horse Camp together and bonded during buddy checks down at the waterfront. “From that summer on we were inseparable. It started out as just two little girls who just knew how to make each other laugh and it was like that for a while, and then somewhere along the way, we realized that we had become best friends and there was no going back.”

Taking their “camp friendship” to college.

The challenge of many camp friendships is separation during the school year. Most campers in a cabin don’t attend the same schools or even live in the same cities. This was true for Kat and Becca. “Over the years we didn’t really talk that much outside of camp. But every summer when we were reunited it was as if we never left each other.”  When both girls decided to attend KU their senior year of high school, they realized that since they’d gotten along so well sharing a camp cabin through the years, they would probably be pretty good college roommates. They were right.

In their dorm room at KU, the two friends pushed their bunkbeds together—just like they’d been at camp. “She is my person,” declares Kat. “I have other friends that I have known for equally as long, if not longer, but somehow our relationship is still nothing in comparison to that with Bex [Becca].” Reflecting on why this “camp friendship” is so strong, Kat added, “I think that maybe it is because people really are who they want to be at camp and we got to help each other figure out who that person was for each of us.” 

Passing friendship on to the next generation of campers

In 2016, Kat and Becca will both return to Camp Wood YMCA as members of our summer staff. Kat, as Program Director, and Becca as Assistant Program Director. Kat is excited to help this year's campers forge their own special friendships. “As staff members now, it is fun to look at the friendships that arise between the kids and it warms my heart to think that they are currently finding their very own 'Beccas' and maybe someday they will be in our same position.”

At Camp Wood YMCA, friendships like Kat and Becca’s are not uncommon. Many alumni remain in contact with their camp friends long after they age out of camp or move away. In fact, every spring, alumni return to camp for an Alumni Reunion during which they get a chance to visit with old camp friends and relive happy memories together. This year, the Alumni Reunion coincides with our Centennial Celebration and Open House on Saturday, May 7th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to this event, even if you’ve never been to Camp Wood before. Come and make a new friend or two! Learn more about the Centennial Celebration and Open House.

Campers come to camp as strangers and they leave as a family with memories and experiences they will always share.
— Kat, former camper and 2016 Program Director