When I was eight years old, I went to summer camp. I loved it. Softball, archery, swimming, volleyball, nighttime campfires and giggles—lots and lots of giggles. It was the most fun an active social child could imagine.
Yet, even more memorable are the friendships I made every summer. So, when summer ended and the camp season was part of the past, I was always so sad that I would no longer see my special friends every day.
That idyllic childhood feeling has been long forgotten, until now.
It started on a court. Four women from different walks of life who met playing a sport together. At first, it was simply a game with women who couldn’t be more different. Brenda doesn’t hold back. She tells it like it is and can inadvertently offend, but she’s down to earth and I instantly liked her. Sally is smart and quite accomplished yet warm, friendly and extremely approachable. We admired each other and instantly bonded. Cathy is kind, genuine and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. We had some friends in common and immediately connected. The four of us have different religions, political affiliations and viewpoints but it didn’t matter.
As summer moved on, we began joking and teasing each other. We noticed Cathy was getting tougher and told her Brenda must be rubbing off on her. On the court, we started talking about our families and lives before the four of us met, sometimes forgetting we were supposed to be playing and not talking. We began looking forward to seeing each other. Like camp, not only did we share common interests, but we giggled like school kids, sometimes so hysterically that we were practically doubled over, unable to catch our breath. Nighttime campfires of my youth turned into happy hours and dinner parties of adulthood.
We began texting several times a day. We planned trips to the Jersey shore around each other’s schedules. We began to confide and trust in each other. Like summer camp, we looked forward to being together.
The game that brought us together became far more than a game. When one of us didn’t feel good or didn’t show up to play, we worried. When Cathy’s mom was hospitalized, we checked in with her every day. We celebrated each other’s accomplishments and shared each other’s life milestones. Without saying it, each of us knew we had each other’s backs.
So, when Labor Day arrived and we had to return to our respective homes in different states, we hugged and promised to make plans. Brenda texted how grateful she was to have us in her lives and thanked us for helping her make it through tough COVID times. Sally called us a true sisterhood and Cathy said even though we haven’t known each other that long, she felt a strong connection to all of us. I was surprised to feel that long forgotten childhood melancholy that the unofficial end of summer used to bring.
As a happy adult with fulfilling relationships and lots of friends, perhaps that sounds odd, but consider this. People enter our lives at different times for different reasons. I often joke that I don’t want more friends. However, what if I really embraced that attitude? I would have missed out on unique connections with three wonderful women who have brightened my life.
Often in business, we focus on proving ourselves, being our best and trying to impress others. What if we could just remember what it felt like to be eight and let that authentic child shine through? An eight year old lives in the moment. An eight year old doesn’t care where you live, what religion you practice or what political party your family affiliates with. They are still slightly new and fresh. They arrive with a clean slate and infectious smiles that make you want to be around them.
When the four of us are together, sometimes I feel like I’m eight all over again. Like that eight year old, I’m already looking forward to next summer.