Advice and Guidelines for Communicating Inclusively with Camp Friends

There are many hidden gifts we hope everyone takes away from a summer at Vega, such as independence, emotional intelligence, skills, confidence, resilience, and of course close bonds and friendships.  Summer camp lends itself to forming authentic connections because of the amount and type of shared experience.

For 49 days we live life (almost) always together, free from screens, and at high-intensity.  There are daily opportunities for fun, adventure, silliness, jokes, creativity, teamwork, conflicts, resolution, vulnerability, development, and encouragement.  Each bunk, age group, and camp as a whole quickly feels and acts like a family, with similar ups and downs, love, and support.

We highlight the importance of camp friendships because it is not uncommon for “real world” conditions to place new pressures on camp relationships that can to lead to hurt feelings or confusion, most often unintentionally.  Based on years experience and feedback we have outlined some advice and guidelines for off-season communication.  We hope this helps everyone maintain well-deserved feelings of confidence and belonging throughout the year.

In general:

  1. There are many kids who most enjoy spending time with their camp friends at camp.  It may be because they find the “colliding of worlds” hard to navigate or they live their lives in the moment, and it is perfectly normal for your daughter to not be in close contact with camp friends during the school year, especially at a young age.
  2. Social media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with camp friends, some of whom may live far away.  Please continue to remind your daughter of the importance of inclusion and empathy when posting, tagging and commenting.
  3. Remember that not tagging, liking, commenting, etc. can be just as hurtful and that photos from camp can be posted/tagged in such a way that makes others feel excluded. For example, posting a bunk photo and tagging some campers and not others.
  4. If your daughter has a social media account and is under the required age limit (Instagram, for example, requires users to be 13 years or older) we recommend viewing every post shared and viewed.  While overwhelming, we recommend keeping up on the ever-evolving nuances of social media communication and monitoring your campers’ social media activity for the well being of your children, and others.

Regarding camp get-togethers:

  1. If you’re having a get-together or sleepover with more than two camp friends, we ask that you and your daughter(s) refrain from posting about it on social media or texting about it with others who were not invited. From the New York Times, “Imagine watching a party unfold, in real time, on Snapchat or Instagram, when you aren’t there. The experience can be absolutely devastating to tween and teenage children.”  This is a universal issue, not a camp issue.
  2. If you are planning a larger special event, such as a Bat Mitzvah or Birthday Party, and are inviting the majority of campers from your daughter’s bunk, please include the entire bunk. We can provide contact information upon request.

Every campers’ and staff members’ Vega experience has given them the perspective and skills to be inclusive role models both online and “in real life.”  We are so proud of our Vega family and are always here for support.