Summer camp can be exciting but intimidating experience. It gives you opportunity to leave home and stay away from your parent’s incessant inquiries. Yet for all its promises, it’s no small deal for you to walk into a strange place and live among unfamiliar people. What if you fail to make any new friends and feel miserable? Nevertheless, the idea of spending time with total strangers does have its charm. It’s adventurous. It breaks the routine of your daily life. And by any luck you may actually make a few new friends. It’s exciting all by itself when you don’t know what life would look like for a few weeks.
Summer camp is a very interesting concept. Adults don’t do it. They don’t usually volunteer to go to a place alone and spend several weeks living together with a bunch of strangers of their own age groups. They definitely don’t call that kind of thing “fun”. When they have to do it, they call it “conference” and keep their personal space to themselves. However, for whatever reason, parents are so much into sending kids to summer camps that they are willing to pay a lot of money for camp tuition. “Make new friends” they would eagerly tell their kids, as if friends can simply be made by caging a bunch of same age kids together for a few weeks. Perhaps they are just tired of dealing with kids and want to enjoy some kid-free summer days.
For whatever reason that lands you at a summer camp, you can’t afford to go slow in making friends there. No one has preexisting friends there (though some lucky one may come with old friends). It’s like lunch time in cafeteria at the beginning of semester. If you haven’t quickly found a seat at a popular table, you would be out of luck. However, making quick friends in summer camp is not as intimidating as it looks. The simple fact is that all other camp kids are as anxious as you are in making new friends. It’s a willing population, a ripe field ready to be harvested. Here are a few tricks that may significantly increase your opportunity.
- Find the kid who makes eye contact with you when laughing. People may not talk due to shyness or nervousness. But their body language always betray their true feeling. If you are in a group and a kid likes you, he/she can’t help but make eye contact with you when laughing. By sensing this friendly body language you’d have much easier time to connect with a willing person (provided that you like this kid too). On the other hand, if you can’t help but keep making eye contact with someone when you laugh, that someone could be the kid you want to make an effort to bond with.
- Pay attention to people’s feet. It turns out that people not only vote with their feet, but also choose friend with their feet. When you talk, if a person listens with his/her feet pointing toward you, it usually means he/she is paying attention to what you have to say. Those feet that dance or face other directions are frequently the signal that the person has had enough of your presence.
- Remember people’s names. Most people have trouble remembering stranger’s names. Yet you can’t afford to forget names of other kids on the first day of summer camp. One way is to make secret funny nickname out of a kid’s real name. There are a number of different ways to help memorizing a person’s name. Whatever works for you will be cool.
- Leave something out of your story. When you tell interesting stuff to other kids, try to leave something untold and not to finish the story in one take. The suspension of not knowing the entire story will make other kids remember you a lot better.
- Nodding your head slightly and pay attention to conversation. When you are at the receiving end of conversation and you intend to make friend with the person talking, you want to nod your head slightly in agreement and pay attention to what he/she has to say. The positive body language will usually be warmly received and positively responded.
- Open your palms to show trust. A pointing finger toward people usually don’t indicate friendly mode. But palms that open to others express trust and sincerity. People tend to feel more friendly when they see your palms a lot.
- Showing excitement. Positive sentiments are infectious. You become more likable when you show excitement about things around you. And people like to associate with someone who’s happy and cool.
- Ask the kid to do a small favor for you. This feels like counter intuitive. You may think that the kid of your interest would feel burdened by your request for help. Yet in reality, doing things for your makes people invest in your well-being and end up feeling a lot warmer toward you. Of course you should not constantly asking favors. Too much is never a good thing.
Initial impression is half of the business. By quickly identifying kids you like and also the kids who like you, you can zoom in fast like a guided missile and not wasting time on other dead-end conversations. Once you build favorable initial impression with the kids you want to be friend with, you can spend the rest of summer camp riding the flow, much like a spring cascade streaming down a hill.
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