In Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama XIV reflected on an observation from a parrot and the Master of Robes. “One of the parrots was very friendly with…Master of the Robes. He used to feed it nuts. As it nibbled from his fingers, he used to stroke its head, at which the bird appeared to enter a state of ecstasy. I very much wanted this kind of friendliness and several times tried to get a similar response but to no avail. So I took a stick to punish it. Of course, thereafter it fled at the sight of me. This was a very good lesson in how to make friends: not by force but by compassion.” His awareness of how people respond to others is critical for healthy relationships to form, grow, and ultimately enhance the lives in that relationship.
For the church and those who strive to embody the gospel, relationships are key. Relationships provide us with connections, purpose, understanding, a conduit for love and compassion, and so many other life-enhancing moments that shape and define who we are and are called to become. I work with many groups that come to Slumber Falls Camp and call it their spiritual home or place of renewal. I listen to their stories and hear many people comment on how they love to get away from technology and the rigors of their routines to find time to reflect, recharge, and find renewal. As a result of their experiences, they want their kids to be able to connect on a deep, spiritual level with creation and others. For that, many groups do not allow technology at their events. Studies are confirming that there is truth to that belief.
As an Associate Professor of Communications Studies at the University of Kansas, a curious thought raced through Dr. Jeffrey Hall’s head. How much time does it take to make a friend? His conclusions were insightful. Friendship can roughly be categorized into four areas or stages: acquaintances, casual friends, friends, and close friends. After becoming an acquaintance, it takes about 50 hours to move into the casual friend zone and an additional 90 hours to move from that stage to friend status. For close friends, it takes more than 200 hours.
But what counts as hours to making a friend? Surprisingly, working together does not count the same as hanging out, going to get drinks or dinner, playing video games, and other activities that require interpersonal communication. As people spend time with one another, they go through periods of increased hanging out as they transition to each new stage. Building from other research saying that the human brain can only effectively manage about 150 friendships, people tend to be more strategic in how they choose to spend their time in terms of investment in long term needs of fulfillment. Close friendships do not happen at the snap of a finger or as a result of someone really wanting it badly. It takes time, genuine interactions, and a willingness of people to allocate time for the relationship.
Hall goes on to state that young people would be wise to make friendships a worthwhile investment of time because other research indicates that early friendships are associated with happiness later in life. In a time of technology and hundreds and thousands of online friends, the reality is that we are spiritual beings capable of connecting to others and creation in incredible ways. Unless we acknowledge this and make it a priority, we fail to guide our children and youth on journeys that can enrich their lives. Slumber Falls Camp champions relationships. From the founding, this guiding principle shapes our ministries and creates an atmosphere of love, excitement, inclusiveness, and empowerment.
Think about a young person that you care for and love. How do you help guide them in realms of friendships and connections? What opportunities do you offer them to explore deeper aspects of themselves that schools and other secular organizations do not and cannot always offer? I invite you to register your kids, grandkids, and that loud kid in the back of the church to attend Slumber Falls Camp this summer. The time our children and youth spend in a week doing fun activities, family groups, learning, singing, hiking, face painting, and having fun all count toward that time it takes to establish friends and close friends. Think of the power of coming year after year and the life long relationship that will ensue.
Blessings and peace. I look forward to seeing you and your family real soon. Continue to shine the gospel in all you do! — Jeremy