When my husband and I were kids we belonged to a youth group, he was one of the leaders when I was a participant. We still have deep and lasting friendships with some of the people we spent all of those summers and winters with, in dorms or under canvas.
My kids joined the same group and when they respectively left for their first camp I told them to look around as some of those faces will still be significant to them 30 years later. To be brutally honest, it was all I could do not to climb onto that coach and join them. Not in an overprotective mother way (well, not entirely in an overprotective mother way) but because I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back to those days…
Sitting on the coach with 50 friends, off to spend a couple of weeks in a field in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in tents, playing games, eating chocolate, singing songs, having adventures. Feeling completely disconnected from our daily routine and enjoying days that felt endless whilst rushing past. Coming up with the cliquey jokes and buzzwords that will still make us laugh when we're older than our parents.
I'm heading off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival tomorrow, which is the next best thing. In a flatshare with other people from my line of work, some friends and some strangers (friends I haven't met yet?), going out and having fun, working and laughing and being free from real life for a bit.
Mark and I were close friends for years, having grown up in the same area, within the same crowd and the same youth group. Our friends used to call us Harry and Sally, which was the single downside to eventually falling in love and getting married - the smug “I told you so!”s were irritating beyond belief.
Marrying him meant that I integrated my ex leaders with my friends which was quite surreal. It still can be! We celebrated a friend's son's bar mitzvah in a marquee and being with my old friends and leaders in a tent took me right back to those days. It was like I'd opened a portal to 1985.
When I dropped my older son off at the coach stop for his first leadership stint a few years ago, I said, “Have a good look around this coach because…” and he interjected “You always say this! Because some of them will still be my friends in 30 years!”
“That wasn't what I was going to say,” I replied. “Have a good look around this coach because you could end up married to any one of them in 30 years time.”