My first flash friendship came later than most: I was sixteen, on exchange in Germany, singing in a local rock band in my town. I was part of the group, but something in me resisted: I knew I was leaving in a few months, so why should I let myself come to love these people I spent so much time with? It was better to remain cold, I thought, than to risk the pain of leaving them. But then, somehow, I couldn’t hold back anymore, and I found myself becoming friends with them. Even in the most lighthearted moments, there was a bittersweet undertone, because I always knew that it would end.
That’s the magic and the tragedy of summer camp friendships.
You can see campers negotiating their competing desires right now: on one hand, everybody wants to be a part of a little group, to have close camp friends with whom you spend all your time, whom you can go to with your camp dramas. And on the other hand, even the little ones know just how short three weeks is. At our opening campfire, we sang the Tall Timbers song: “Friends, friends, friends, we will always be, whether in fair or in dark stormy weather Tall Timbers will keep us together…” And on so many faces I saw hints of doubt. Will we really always be friends? When September rolls around, and my life is full of other friends and other dramas, will I really miss you? And if I do, will that pain be too much to bear?
So this is in defense of flash friendships. Because although there is that tragic knowledge of their coming end, there is also the vulnerability that comes with only having so long to have every conversation you want to have, to share every secret, to have every kind of fun as soon as possible. And although they are brief, this poignancy makes summer friendships stay with us. We fall in love with summer camp not just because we love playing soccer and doing ridiculous skits, but because we know that those flash friendships will be waiting for us next summer.
Which brings us to the last poignancy of flash friendships at summer camp: they do last. Across time, across distance, across years, summer friends are real friends. Just faster, deeper and more earnest.
Other Tall Timbers Happenings
– B2 Challenge completed a human knot in under two minutes
– In soccer, Carl Lasker, Cole Christensen and counselor Kayla won, and Carl was the MPV
– Sebastian Fischbach, Henry Golub and Aidan Brodnitz hit bullseyes in archery
– Spencer Leibow was the first person to conquer all the sides of the climbing wall
– Katherine Barnes won field hockey gagaball
– The Ivory Toast beat the Dominant Dutch in futsal 4-1, with Jamie Stern scoring 2 goals
– Charlotte Bell learned to dive, and Taryn Dalton won the biggest splash competition in swimming
– Adam Fiergang made 17 out of 18 shots in basketball
– In tubing, Aaron Mendelsohn flipped upside down, travelled underwater and righted himself without falling off the tube