Towering Pines Blog

Least Likely Friendships Are Possible at Camp

Posted by on April 25, 2016


Almost a month ago, we had 2 high school seniors stay with us for the weekend. One of our guests was my oldest nephew who lives in Nebraska and the other was my next-door neighbor from when we lived in Georgia (an adopted nephew!). We decided to celebrate their graduations by treating them to a fishing trip to mark this important milestone.

Aidan and Ben met in 2010 when Aidan came to Augusta with his Mom (my sister) to visit me for a week while my husband was in Afghanistan.   They did what typical 12 year old boys do…they jumped on the trampoline in the backyard, went to the pool, rode scooters around the neighborhood, and played cards. Aidan and Ben had a great time together that week, but that was the last contact they had with each other until just recently.


Fast forward 6 years, and both boys left their respective lives and hometowns for an epic adventure. I gave each of them the other’s cell phone information and told them that I would pick them up at the airport in Houston. They had connecting flights in Atlanta and ended up meeting at a central food court to grab dinner before heading to the gate area of the flight bound for Texas.

Ben Kim Aidan

I have spent a lot of time with each of the boys separately over the years; however, we had not all been together since 2010. While stopping for a late night snack on the way to my house, I asked them to tell me the story of their reunion in the Atlanta airport. It was interesting to hear that both Aidan and Ben were looking for the 12-year old version of the other. Both had buzz haircuts and were in their awkward preteen years back then. They actually passed by each other before realizing that they needed to look for the older version of that person they met 6 years ago.

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It was fascinating to watch their interactions with each other; in many ways they couldn’t be more opposite. Aidan has grown up in an agricultural community in the Midwest while Ben is from a Southern city. Aidan came off the plane wearing jeans, a Western shirt, a giant belt buckle, and cowboy boots while Ben was sporting khaki shorts, a Vineyard Vines polo shirt, and Chacos.


Chances are they would not have hung out together had they gone to the same school in either Nebraska or Georgia. For some reason, though, because they were on neutral territory and without any influential friends within 1000 miles of their location, they were friendly to each other and seemed to enjoy each other’s company the entire weekend. Aidan and Ben swapped stories on the challenges of high school and compared notes on friend groups, sports, and life in general.


Aidan and Ben cemented their friendship by sharing a common experience of fishing with their “Uncle”. They prided themselves in the fact that they were both taller and stronger than my husband will ever hope to be. The boys were able to tag team to keep the conversation lively on the drive to Louisiana. They experienced their first ferry ride and dolphin sighting. The pair told stories of a late night and an early morning. Heavy rains earlier in the week prevented the group from catching many fish, but Aidan and Ben certainly had some big tales of the hours spent on the boat and who did catch the first and biggest fish.


So, what is the point of me sharing this with you? Aidan and Ben’s reunion story is precisely what happens at camp every summer! The campers at Towering Pines come from many different geographic locations, backgrounds, and interests. Being on neutral territory and away from the influences of friends from home are key to the formation of the bonds of friendship. This process begins to happen within the first few days because campers are taking part in shared experiences immediately upon arrival to camp (living in a cabin together, doing activities, eating meals as a group, going on a canoe trip, performing in a Lip Sync Contest…just to name a few!).


It is very possible that friendships formed at camp may not have happened in other settings. Boys, who most likely wouldn’t hang out at home, see past the perceived differences and discover commonalities with others in the camp community. The least likely friendships outside of camp often become the closest friends at camp! Because the bonds of camp friendships run so deep, 1, 2, or 10 years can pass by and camp friends can always pick up where they left off!