Way back when I was in middle school, I went to sleep away camp for the very first time. I’d been to day camps, but never stayed away for a whole week. My friends at home and I were used to spending every moment together. I wasn’t sure how I’d like being gone for so long. They wrote me wonderful letters with collages and updates on what I’d missed while I was away, and though they were lovely they made me a bit home sick. But that didn’t last for long. We were split into groups called families with two adults, and ten campers. We’d meet each day, and do activities together, and talk about what we’d been up to. It was the camp’s way of making sure everyone had some friends even if you didn’t hit it off with anyone during free swim.
I lucked out and was assigned to a group I loved. We got very close, very quickly, as is the way of camps, so much so that the last night was full of tears and heartache to be leaving. I still call a few of them my good friends today. As a final activity with our family before we all went home in the morning, our adults kicked off an exercise they called warm fuzzies.
Everyone sat in a circle. One by one, each person in the group was picked and then everyone else went around the room, and said what they liked about that person. The camp counselor wrote it all down on a list, and the person got to keep it as a record of their warm fuzzies at the end. Some were simple, “She has pretty hair.” Others were a little deeper, “He has a gentle soul.” All were heart-stoppingly touching to hear people you cared about just sit and say out loud. It was such a flood of good feels all at once. It brought everyone even closer than before and ended in a series of group hugs.
When I chaperoned a group of 10 undergrads from my alma mater on a volunteer trip to Bolivia, I remembered how special those moments were. One night, after a particularly tough day, I gathered everyone together in the biggest bunk bedroom in the apartment where we stayed. Now I was the adult in the group, keeping track of the warm fuzzies. We all took turns, me and the team leader starting things off. Going around, and sharing all of the good qualities we’d seen come out in our first 7 days. This time I was the one tearing off a sheet of notebook paper and handing them out to the group.
Once again, the night ended in embraces and happiness all around. When I look through old memory boxes, sometimes I still unfold those papers, and read through all of the beautiful things people shared with me. It’s not often enough that we just sit down and tell the people we care about the things we like about them. So, this weekend, share some warm fuzzies of your own. Tell one person you love, one thing you love about them. It will make you, and them feel just great.
Image by Denise Cortez