Tennessee is from Connecticut.
Miles comes from Pennsylvania.
They met here at camp a year ago when they were both in the same cabin.
Tennessee is going into fifth grade. Miles is going into fourth.
Every year at Sing, there’s always one spectacular show of sportsmanship or friendship. I remember a few years ago, one of the youngest boys shook the hands of his Color War opponents and thanked them for a good effort. We see it every year when members of the Green wade their way through the chairs to embrace friends on White, and vice versa.
This year it is was Miles and Tennessee who found each other and brought all the feels.
“I thought, why is he crying?” Tennessee says. “Oh shoot, that song was all about friendship and camp is ending. I looked at some other people and they were crying. That song was meaningful.
“I thought, there’s a week of camp and I won’t be able to hang out with him. So I started to cry, too.”
Miles fell apart on Tennessee and Tennessee held him tight. They ugly cried together right there in the middle of the Globe, in each other’s arms.
What were they feeling?
“Friendship,” Miles says, his eyes welling up again.
Have you ever felt that before?
“No,” he says.
Miles and Tennessee are like so many other friends here at camp. They came here so young. They didn’t know what to expect. Their first nights away from home, alone, probably felt like the sun would never come up.
“We really bonded over Akido,” Tennessee says. “at night, even when our counselor said to go to sleep, we stayed up and tossed our stuffed animals at each other. Miles is always joking. He’s funny.”
Like so many other friends, they found each other.
They connected over a game they both liked. For others, maybe it’s the same music. The same clothes. Or maybe they root for the same teams. The seeds of friendship are so unpredictable, but here at camp, they run as deep and as strong as they come.
“At camp,” Miles says, “you really get to know each other. At camp, you spend seven weeks with someone. At home, you don’t really get to know them.”
Friendships here are not like friendships at home. As you get older, you realize that. These two little boys experienced feelings the other night they never felt before and it was magical for anyone who witnessed it.
“I feel like my friendships are stronger here. Sometimes my friends at home can’t play or they aren’t around and I don’t see them,” Tennessee says. “But here, you always see everybody, and there’s always new people coming and new friends. Everyone here is so nice.”
There are dozens of stories like Miles and Tennessee’s unfolding around camp throughout the summer, across years and through generations.
Friends who wait for you. Who save you the last slice of grilled cheese. Who take your last squeeze of toothpaste. Who knock on the window when you’re in the infirmary just to see your face. Who reach out and hold your hand walking to the dining hall. Who you share your deepest secrets with. Who you stay up late laughing and crying, and laughing again with.
Soon, Tennessee will be back in Connecticut. Miles will be in Pennsylvania.
They’ll all be home.
But not alone.