Sunday night, I sat in my apartment on the couch that previously lived in the basement of my childhood home with two of my oldest childhood friends who were visiting for the weekend.

As we laid wrapped up in blankets, legs entwined, reminiscing about all the boys we’d individually fooled around with on that couch, it simultaneously struck us how grateful we were that we’d been friends for as long as we have.

That red couch had seen a lot, but so had we as friends. Established in 2007, our self-nicknamed group, “Professional Sporkers” (don’t ask), emerged as a result of summer camp. The three of us spent a total of eight summers together, as campers and then as counselors, at Camp Ramah in Canada.

Abbie Ginis/Dearly

I’ve been going to overnight camp since I was 8 years old. I’d spend weeks procrasti-packing, spending too much money on toiletries to last eight weeks, anxiously anticipating shipping off to Canada for the summer. And when the time came to cease the absurdly long hugs and tearful goodbyes to my parents, I was comforted by Shayna and Rebecca, who were right beside me aboard the bus for the seven-hour drive into the Canadian wilderness.

And after over 10 years of friendship, I can confidently say that these two wonderful women will forever be in my life. And I have only summer camp (and my parents!) to thank for that.

Abbie Ginis/Dearly

You may not think that a friendship dependent on just two months out of the year would be so long-lasting and sustainable, but what you may fail to realize is that those annual two months felt like years. My summers ran on “camp time,” meaning that every day felt like one week, one week felt like one month, and one month felt like one year.

In addition, we were never without each other. Our bunk beds were so close that if we weren’t sleeping head to head, we’d smush into one tiny twin bed for optimum cuddles. Meals, cabin activities, even showers were together. We knew everything about each other and, to this day, keep up with continuous life updates.

Abbie Ginis/Dearly

I remember that when my mom first told other parents about sending my sister and me off to sleep-away camp for eight weeks, she was met with looks of horror and astonishment that any parent could “do such a thing” to their children. I’ve been told that camps like Ramah are primarily a Jewish tradition; however, I urge all parents to consider camp as a summertime option for their kids (and an adult bonus: empty house!).

Camp taught me independence in a way that no other childhood experience could have, which I learned in college after living with teenagers who had never been out of the house for longer than a weekend. Living with up to 16 (pre-pubescent!) girls was rarely easy, but it was (mostly) always fun. You learn a lot about yourself and your habits, in addition to how to respect a shared space. While these are traits most people do eventually learn, I came into college knowing how to tiptoe across hardwood floors and close the door without waking anyone else up, making me an all-star roommate.

Joking aside, the skills, values, and friendships made at camp are incomparable to those fostered anywhere else. While it may be scary for both parent and child to part for the summer, the experience is something that will leave an everlasting impact on your kids because camp people are the best people.

Abbie Ginis/Dearly

So to my oldest friends, my favorite cuddle buddies, the only people I can stuff my face with without judgment: thank you for everything.

Thank you for being there for me, for lending me your wardrobes, for sharing your Pull ‘N Peel Twizzlers and Goldfish.

Thank you for keeping me sane when our bunkmates got a little crazy and for still being available to talk to whenever I need you.

Thank you for visiting me this weekend.

Can’t wait for our kids to go to camp together one day.

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