The Benefits of Friendship
Community is a funny thing. We talk about the Wayfinder community as if it was a living entity when really it’s a web of interpersonal relationships and a kind of commitment you make to people you have not met yet, but who have occupied space in that same circle that you do. We talk a lot about how that circle functions. How it welcomes new people with arms open. How it manages to hold the same type of space though never being made up of the exact same group of people. How your spot in it is always there for you, no matter how long you step away from it. Something else we talk about a little less often, is how our circle stretches out into the world past camp. The friendship that we form at camp, those individual strands of the community, are some of the strongest you will ever find in life.
Marika touched on something important about those relationships in her interview. She talked about how for people from camp out in the world “our lives still have relevance to each other.” This is not an easy type of relationship to find. With most of the people you meet in the world, once your shared experience or location is over with it goes the closer portions of your friendship. Obviously this isn’t always the case, and I’m not trying to say you can’t form lasting friendships outside of camp. I’m looking to highlight the amazing ability Wayfinder has built over the years to create generation of generation of real lasting friendships. We so often refer to ourselves as a tribe, and this is exactly what that has always meant to me. So many of the people who I grew up loving and trusting from camp are out in the world now, without time or ability to come back to Wayfinder. That doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow I could drop in on just about any of them and pick up our friendship right where we left off.
While it’s not the only thing we work on, or even the focus of much of what we do, the relationships built between Wayfinder’s participants are a crucial part of every single workshop we go through at camp. (Maybe the point is the friends we made along the way?) Game is a huge piece of this. After a game where you spend a lot of time playing with someone you don’t know that well, there is going to be a kind of closeness between you that wasn’t there before. That special kind of closeness that comes from shared experience. (If you can face down literal demons with someone friendship can’t be much harder, right?) The only feeling I have found similar to it is in people I have worked with, but those relationships are usually missing the other pieces we do at camp. The active work on trust and mindfulness in relationships.
Sitting in trust workshops together goes further than we realize in doing this interpersonal work for us. It establishes a baseline of trust that you just don’t get to have with people in very many situations. Often in trust we share some of our most personal discomforts, whether those be in the form of forging physical trust through touch or emotional trust by sharing a hardship we have been through. Being able to look at someone you intend to build a friendship with and see someone who already knows these things about you, who already seen some of the bits of yourself you try to keep from the world, and knowing that they want to become better friends with you regardless of (sometimes even because of) these pieces is a kind of relationship it is almost impossible to find, and certainly rare to find such a safe space to do it in.
With these rare elements added into our friendships from the start it seems only natural that the friendships we build hold relevance. The work we do at camp is to define ourselves as people. Playing in adventure games gives you the chance to explore different sides of yourself, to try on different personalities and ways of being and decide which you like best. Doing trust workshops gives you a chance to find that you can share the things that you have been through and find people who love you and hold no judgment of those things. Improv gives you a chance to have fun and embrace that ridiculous joyful kind of funny that comes when you just go for it. These are the things that people search desperately for in relationships throughout their lives. They are also things that people at Wayfinder give themselves over to with ease. Treasure the friendships you have been given, nurture that relevance, and keep as many of those people in your life as long as you can.
Written by Judson Easton Packard