I’m assuming that you’re going to camp by yourself and you don’t already know anyone there, in which case the whole thing can seem pretty scary… throwing yourself into any situation where you don’t know a single person is always a challenge, but add to that that you’re in a brand new country too and you might be thinking, ‘how on earth am I going to get to know all these people?‘.
But summer camp is a strange place. A day feels like a week, a week feels like a month and so on. So after just a few days you’ll probably feel like you’ve been there forever and like you’ve known these people your whole life, even though you only met them 72 hours ago.
You’re going to be working with these people, who are from all different nationalities, backgrounds and walks of life, for the next 2-3 months, so it’s important that you can at least hold a conversation with them. You are not required to be friends with everybody (there are always going to be people you don’t get along with particularly well), but your life at camp will be so much easier if you make attempts to be friends right from the start.
1. Be yourself. This seems simple enough right? Summer camp is one of the rare places in the world where being yourself is actually celebrated. So don’t try to be something you’re not – it’s hard to keep an act up for an entire summer – and just relax. If you just behave as you normally would, you’ll find your groups of friends before you know it!
2. Say ‘hi’ first. Sometimes it can be really daunting to just go up to someone you don’t know and say ‘hi’, but that’s the way a friendship starts. Be brave and just do it, then let the conversation flow from there.
3. Ask questions. People always like to talk about themselves, and this is a great way to find out more about a person. So ask them anything you can think of and you might find some of their answers are great conversations starters.
If you’re stuck for what to ask, why not just start with the simple questions:
‘Where are you from?
‘What do you do at home?’
‘Have you been to camp before?’
4. Get involved. The first week or so at camp is going to be spent doing a lot of training. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… you have to just get stuck in. People like someone who joins in and gives it their all, and some of the games you are going to play in staff training will get you all pretty comfortable with each other pretty fast.
5. Be open minded. If summer camp is entirely new to you, the whole thing can seem a little strange and mental at times. Everyone is loud, there’s singing and dancing at meal times, and you might be asked to do some things you’ve never done before. And there will people there who have so many different life experiences to you, so it’s important to just take everything as it comes and as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
6. Don’t be shy. By this I don’t mean you have to be the centre of attention and life and soul of the party at all times, I just mean that in order to make friends at camp, you can’t just stand in a corner and be too afraid to speak to anyone. Everyone at camp is very nice and you are all there for pretty much the same reasons – to work with kids, make new friends and have a great summer, so it’s important that you don’t let your shyness get the better of you.
7. Smile. Everyone like someone who smiles, right? I mean, don’t walk around every second of every day with a huge goofy grin on your face (well, you can if you really want to), but you will attract more people to you if you look like you’re having a good time!
8. Don’t over-think it. You’ve been making friends since you were tiny, so just go with what feels natural to you and you’ll make great friends in no time!