Recently a friend and Camp Tecumseh Alumni tagged me in a report she saw that found 1 in 7 men and 1 in 10 women in the US don’t have a single close friend. “This is why Camp T is so critical!” she exclaimed. At first, I was surprised by this statistic. How could that be true? How is it possible that so many people don’t have a close friend? This finding, coupled with the Surgeon General’s recent statement that loneliness is a new public health epidemic, should be an eye opener for all of us. My friend Jill is right – this is why Camp T is so critical!

At the end of staff training this June I once again told all of our counselors that their job was to “help kids make friends and model God’s love.” At the end of Closing Campfire each week, and as part of the final devotion, we talk about the importance of friendships: “My friends are important to me and I am important to them, therefore I will care for my friendships and help them to grow.”

One of the questions we ask campers and parents at the end of a week of camp is whether they made a new friend at camp. Almost every single one – over 98% so far this summer – say “yes” they made a new friend during their week, with many writing “so many” or “my entire cabin!”

I know the crisis of loneliness and the physical, mental, and spiritual toll that loneliness takes is a complex one. I also know that Camp Tecumseh can be part of the antidote. We are on a mission of great importance!