Making new friends at camp is not a betrayal to a best friend even if it is uncomfortable for you that she did
Hi, my name is Tziporah. Everyone calls me Tzippy, or Tzip. Camp is ending soon and I’m dreading going back to school. I’ll tell you why.
Before the summer, my best friend, Adina, and I were beyond excited about going to sleepaway camp together. What could be more fun than spending eight full weeks with your favorite person? We’d do everything together, stay up late schmoozing, play games, eat nosh, and just have the best time. I counted down the seconds until we were there.
Camp turned out to be even more fun than I expected and best of all, Adina and I were together and having the time of our lives.
That was for the first three weeks or so.
At around week four, Adina made a friend. And then she made another. And pretty soon she was off doing camp activities with these other girls instead of me, leaving the bunk even before I woke up, planning activities without involving me, sitting at other tables for breakfast and lunch. I tried to tag along but I didn’t feel comfortable with these other girls the way Adina did, so I started to drift away and hang out on my own. I made a friend or two myself, but camp was turning out to be a real bummer without Adina by my side. I even tried talking to her about it and her response was to laugh it off and say, “Come on, Tzip, we basically live together! We don’t have to be Siamese twins!” Easy for her to say with a group of four girls hanging around her constantly. She’s always been extremely popular.
I tried to have a good attitude about it, but it really bothered me that my whole summer was playing out very differently from the way I had planned. And worst of all, I felt a disconnect building between me and Adina. Maybe she didn’t feel it as strongly as I did, but watching her laugh, sing, play games, and schmooze with any girl other than me broke my heart. So I guess I’m hurt. Much more hurt than she thinks. And I won’t risk bringing it up to her again because the last time I did, her response made me even more miserable when I saw that she was able to dismiss my feelings so casually.
So camp’s going to end, school’s going to start, and here I am without my best friend by my side. I don’t think I can just go back to normal when summer ends. I feel like there’s a wall between us and I’m dreading having to face her at the beginning of the school year. Am I wrong for wanting to totally avoid her come September?
Hi, my name’s Adina. I’m in sleepaway camp right now and having the best time. This has been one of the most enjoyable summers of my entire life, baruch Hashem. I came with my best friend Tzippy, which has been so fun, and I’ve also made a bunch of new friends. The girls here are so nice and I’m going to miss the out-of-towners that I’ve become friends with! It’s a bummer to know I’ll only be able to see them again next summer!
When we first got here, Tzip and I were attached at the hip and more than a little hesitant to venture into the social circles of the other girls. We were both fine with that because after all, we came here together and that’s how we planned it to be! But then one morning, I met a girl named Yocheved from a different bunk and we hit it off right away. She’s from Montreal and she introduced me to a group of girls she came to camp with. Soon after that, I was spending a lot of time with them and getting more comfortable leaving Tzippy’s side. Of course, I always encouraged Tzippy to come along but she seemed to want to be on her own. I felt bad about that, but I also knew I couldn’t tie myself down to her all summer and lose out on the opportunity to make new friends. That’s been a huge part of my camp experience, and one I wouldn’t want to give up. It’s been so nice to meet girls from different places, share our stories, spend time together. I’m sad summer’s almost over and these girls won’t be around. But at least I still have Tzippy! We’ve always been great friends and I’m always grateful to have her in my life.
The problem is, she seems to be acting pretty distant. I’m sure it’s because we’ve spent less time together in camp than we planned, but it’s not like I outright ignored her or ditched her or anything. I always told her to come along when I went to spend time with other girls. It was her decision to stay by herself.
Did I do anything wrong? I tried to make things work for both of us. I tried to make her comfortable with my new friends and my new friends comfortable with her. I didn’t feel it was fair to stop friendships from happening because Tzippy and I came to camp together. And in sleepaway camp, we’re always together anyway! We sleep in the same bunk, eat lunch in the same dining room, play basketball on the same court. I thought that would be enough. But to Tzip, I think she feels bad about it all and that makes me feel bad because obviously I would never want to hurt her.
In school, we have each other but I’m not so sure Tzippy’s going to be the same Tzippy. She’s been colder and there seems to be negative feelings that I can’t make go away. How can I make her realize I’m still her friend, I’d never replace her, and I’ve been here all along?
Summer is amazing! The best time of the year!
When I used to teach we always said the best months for teaching are July and August. Two full months where the primary purpose is to have fun, relax, and vacation, what could be better?
As we get older we realize that certain responsibilities and values never go on vacation. At times it might be even more challenging to maintain our standards during the summer. This can include being more careful with shemiras halashon, leitzanus, davening in the morning, and of course being a good friend.
Camp is an amazing opportunity. It is a chance to branch out and make new friends in new places. Often we connect with girls that we would have never met if not for camp.
When we go to camp with a friend, it’s with the intention that we’ll also branch out and make new friends. Some girls will even say, let’s go together because for the first day we need to have someone we know, but after that of course we’ll make new friends.
Sometimes, along with the excitement of making new friends we can accidentally forget about our old friends and that is hurtful and wrong.
My best friend for many years claims that we went to camp together and she switched into my bunk but I was too busy with new friends to include her. Public apology — I am sorry, I was wrong. In the end she’s still my best friend and I don’t even remember the names of those important new friends that I made that summer in camp.
Tzip — I can understand how you can feel wronged and hurt and might want to withdraw from this friendship. However, if you look at this objectively, Adina was still a loyal friend. True, she made new friends, but she did not betray you in any way. She obviously loves you and values your relationship. She never excluded you despite the fact that she clearly made new friends at camp. Making new friends at camp is not a betrayal to a best friend even if it is uncomfortable for you that she did.
Right now you have a choice. You can allow your hurt feelings to fester and cause you to give up on a friendship that most people would envy. The second choice is to look at it for what it was: two friends going to camp together and making new friends. That’s a normal expectation for sleepaway camp. Ask yourself honestly, if you would’ve found another group of girls that you really connected to, would you have held back and not formed those friendships due to the loyalty that you feel towards Adina?
Hashem has blessed us with many different kinds of friendships and relationships. Does a close mother-daughter relationship interfere with a best friend from school? How about a neighbor or a cousin?
All relationships are a gift. They are the type of gift that benefits both parties. They enable us to become givers and receivers simultaneously. When we expand ourselves and develop new friendships, it does not have to hurt our old friendships. It does take an extra dosage of security in the relationship and confidence in the friendship in order to embrace our friend’s new friends, instead of feeling threatened by them. This might sound difficult to do, but when we do that we broaden our own social circles too, as now our friends include our friend’s friends.
My advice to you would be to go back to school and continue to invest in this close, best friendship that you have had for many years. I would also suggest that you go to a different camp next summer so that camp friends and school friends don’t have to be the same.
Adina — I am so happy for you that you made such a great group of friends at camp! It sounds like you also went out of your way to include your best friend even if it wasn’t with the same intensity. Now that school is starting, I would suggest you have a candid conversation with Tzippy. Although you didn’t mean to hurt her in any way, you see that she does seem a little hurt due to the fact that you spent less time with her. Best friends are valuable and require care and maintenance. Communication and reassurance of how you value the relationship can go a long way toward making her feel better. Although you didn’t mean to hurt her and technically you didn’t do anything wrong, on some level she did feel marginalized. It’s okay to apologize to her and explain that you did not mean it and of course she’s your best friend always.
It’s fun and exciting to make new friends and form new relationships. I hope you both have many opportunities to expand your social circles throughout your lives. At the same time, there is something special about an old childhood best friend. It’s worth the effort to keep and repair those relationships if necessary.
Hatzlachah rabbah and wishing you both an amazing school year!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 926)
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