Much has been written of adult friendships and maintaining relationships. Recently, the New York Times ran an article extolling the benefits of friendship as a way to improve quality of life physically and mentally. It is a timely topic these days. Mental health issues may be more easily dealt with when there is a friend to talk to and commiserate with when feeling low. I find it encouraging that my grandson Billy confided to his mother about his own feelings of loneliness while he was at sleepaway camp last summer (Billy has okayed my sharing his experience):
“Sleepaway camp was my darkest days. I never felt so alone,” he confessed. “I had no friends. It was there I decided that I would never feel that way again.”
Billy was homesick and it was his first year at a camp. The other campers had long-established connections going back many summers and it was hard to break into the group. Billy has matured over the last year to a point to where he now feels free and comfortable enough to express his feelings. I was proud of him. I had encouraged him to go to camp. His father, who did not have a good experience at sleepaway when he was young, assured him he could leave if he didn’t like it, but Billy stuck it out. Billy was starting a new school in the fall and knew he did not want a repeat of his camp experience. He went out of his way and made a real effort to connect with the kids in his class. Today, at his new school, Billy has a bunch of new buddies, and his social life is almost as busy as his grandpa’s.
Billy related his experience in a recent Uber ride:
“I was driving up Park Avenue with my new best friend the other day and I looked out the car window and I said to myself, I did it. I’ve got a best friend, and everyone accepts me. My friends are cool and this was my goal. My Bar Mitzvah will be the best party ever.”
The New York Times article relates how keeping friends is not effortless. Billy concurs:
“You know it takes hard work to make friends. Finding real friends is not easy. Me and all my friends—all we do is laugh and do silly stuff.”
That’s my Billy-boy. I am looking forward to having Billy and his companions up at camp on the lake being silly.