Fridays with Franky: The Art of Making Friends!
Hi Everyone ~ it’s me, Franky! During my first summer at WeHaKee, I really enjoyed watching how the girls made friends. It seemed like the WeHaKee environment was a place where girls felt at ease stepping beyond their comfort level to meet and make new friends. Some even told me that it is much easier making friends at camp than it is at school or in their neighborhood. I started to wonder why that was?
Now that I am housebroken, I am able to read the New York Times and Boston Globe and other respected publications! One day as I was perusing the Times, I spotted a report that some educators around the country, in a response to bullying and exclusive behavior, were discouraging their students from developing close relationships with other students. What? Really?? I just can’t understand how limiting relationships will really help these students!
I am so glad that WeHaKee values relationships and creates the environment for girls to learn to build strong and lifelong friendships with girls from around the country and the world. And they have done that for a very long time. When WeHaKee alumni come to visit, they almost always share about the friends they made at camp and how they are still friends to this day. So why is it that WeHaKee is such a great ‘friend-making’ place?
Leon Neyfakh of the Boston Globe recently wrote an article exploring the art of making friends – How Kids Make Friends – And Why It Matters. He explored new research from psychologists on this topic and found that friend-making is a rather complicated and mysterious matter. The research suggests that making friends and being popular are two distinctly different things.
“The ability to initiate and maintain close relationships is different from simply being liked and accepted by the group. To make friends, it turns out, children need to be able to carry out sophisticated social maneuvers, screening potential pals for certain positive qualities and making careful assessments about how much common ground they share. And in order to be a good friend – the kind that inspires loyalty and dedication – even a very young child must be not only fun to spend time with, but capable of being emotionally mature in ways that can be difficult even for grown-ups”
One of the big social skill discoveries he discussed related to making friends is the ability to initiate interactions, basically to say hello and ask the other person if they would like to do something together. It sounds simple enough, but this can be profoundly difficult for some children. Well, that brings me back to WeHaKee – the culture here is all about helping each other make friends and creating an environment where girls can feel more comfortable reaching out to others to discover other girls they enjoy spending time with… aka friends!
Well, thanks again for reading my ramblings today. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week!