Summer Sisters: Friendships, Experience and Returning to Summer Camp for Girls

Summer Sisters

Have you ever heard the phrase “summer sisters”? If you didn’t go to sleepaway camp as a child, you might not know what we’re talking about. For girls who grow up going to camp, “summer sisters” are the friends they make at the lunch table, in the bunk, on the tennis courts, or around the campfire — the friends with whom they share a special bond for life. Summer sisters grow up to be college roommates, bridesmaids, godmothers, and friends for life — the kind of friend you can call up when you’re feeling down and know she’ll be able to say just the thing to make you forget all your troubles.

Friendships are important in every aspect of a child’s life, but in some ways, camp friendships are different from the friendships children form in their everyday lives. Camp friends can go ten months without seeing one another and then pick up exactly where they left off. They have their own habits and rituals. Sometimes it may even seem like they’re speaking their own language!

So just what makes camp friendships so special? The obvious answer, of course, is camp! Just like school friends bond over school and family friends connect over shared experiences, camp friends are drawn together by the most important thing they have in common. The difference between camp friends and everyday friends can be summed up in one word: Intensity.

We often say that “a day at camp is like a week in the real world.” Our campers pack so many experiences into a single day we’re surprised they’re not asleep before their heads hit their pillows after Taps. They share those experiences with the other girls in their bunks and in their age groups, but it’s not just the horseback riding lessons and intercamp soccer matches that they share. Whether it’s mealtime, cleanup, wakeup, bedtime, a night out or an evening activity in camp, their bunkmates are there with them from sunrise to sunset (and sometimes even later as the day’s events are discussed in whispers between bunks during flashlight time). Campers live, work and play together every single day of the summer, and the connections that are forged in those long days lead to a special kind of friendship — practically sisterhood.

For returning campers who “live ten months for two,” the excitement of coming back to camp is due in part, of course, to the anticipation of learning new gymnastics skills, moving to the next level in horseback riding or gearing up for the spirit of Color War, but it has as much — or more — to do with being reunited with their summer sisters. For new campers, we like to help them start building friendships before they even step foot on camp. Each new Bryn Mawr Angel is paired with a pen pal — a returning camper who knows what it’s like to go to an all-girls sleepaway camp and who can tell her new friend all about what life is really like at camp. Of course, the directors are always happy to answer any questions you or your camper might have about Bryn Mawr. But there are some things about camp that are best explained by the girls who have experienced it, and who are going to be part of your daughter’s summer sisterhood.

New campers should expect to hear from their pen pals beginning later this month!

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