Monday, July 07, 2008

My Very Own Love Story

March 1995 was life changing for me. I was finishing up my sophomore year at Favorite Christian University. I was enjoying the privileges of life as a member of a social club and not a pledge of a social club. After nine challenging months, I broke up with my so-not-the-one-for-me boyfriend. And, I found out that I had been selected to spend the summer at my childhood church camp, CBH, as a counselor.

As I prepared to spend ten wonderful weeks at Camp Blue Haven living my dream job, I remember looking at the list of names, pictures, and short biographies of the other 15 counselors and wondering if I would fit in with all of them. I knew most of them because they were a little older than me and had served as counselors before me. I was anxious to meet the ones I didn't know and obsessed about making a good impression on the veterans.

I followed one of the other girls from my hometown up to camp on Memorial Day weekend. My blue 1989 Oldsmobile was packed to the roof with everything I'd need to be the perfect counselor that summer. We arrived in plenty of time to unpack and get settled in our cabins. It didn't take long for the 8 of us girls to find one another and catch up on old times. Honestly there was probably more talking and hugging and laughing going on than unpacking. By the time the bell at the dinning hall rang letting us know it was time to assemble for supper, I was comfortable with the girls I'd be working with and was ready for the adventure of my life.

Arriving at the dinning hall, we realized that the rest of the camp staff, including the guys' counselors, was already there. The guys probably didn't have nearly as much to unpack and catch up on as we girls did. (And, guys are almost always the first ones to arrive when food is involved.) Anyways, almost as soon as we walked in, Vance, the camp director, called for us to "circle the wagons", which meant grab the hand closest to you and make a circle.

We formed our circle, I looked around at the precious people I would be living with that summer, and I found myself standing next to a tall, dark, handsome stranger. We didn't get a chance to speak until after the prayer, but as soon as we heard "amen" we looked at each other. I think we'd both decided that since we'd just been holding hands, an introduction was appropriate. He was Honey, living on the guys' side in cabin #5. I was Jenni, living on the girls' side in cabin #12.

The first week at camp was counselor training week. We trained in first aid, cleaned, rehearsed for various night time activities, and hiked. The city girl in me was drawn to Honey almost from the beginning. Although I'd been in camp settings all of my life, I loved my bed, my hairdryer, and my hot showers. When it came to actually spending time outside, I wasn't exactly a pro. But Honey was. He'd grown up in the mountains of New Mexico. He rode horses, built toasty camp fires, and knew all about the perfect way to polish hiking boots so they'd be waterproof. He also seemed to know his way around the area. I, on the other hand, couldn't seem to tell one tree from the next and was hopeless at finding the hiking trail.

It was a full, busy, hard, tiring, fabulous week. At the end of the week we got our first session assignments. I had one of two 5th and 6th grade girls' cabins. And at meal times, my cabin would be sharing a table with the boys' cabin # 5.

Honey had 7th and 8th graders, so we really didn't spend much time together that week outside of eating. I settled in to my counselor role quickly. I loved spending time with my girls, but the highlight of my day was at breakfast when we were getting settled at our table, and Honey would look me in the eye and say, "Good morning. How'd you sleep?"

Most mornings my answer was something like, "Good, how about you?", but Tuesday morning it was more like, "Not too great. I froze. I couldn't wait until it was time to get up and hit the showers this morning. Between freezing all night and worrying about oversleeping without an alarm to wake me up, I didn't sleep much."

Monday nights at CBH were cook out night for dinner and sleep out night for the girls. I had partnered up with the veteran counselor living in the other half of our duplex cabin for my first sleep-out of the summer. I let my younger 5th and 6th grade girls sleep close to the fire while I found a place on the edge of our little circle of sleeping girls. Just in case. In case of what? I'm not sure, but it seemed the counselorly thing to do.

Anyways, Honey was appropriately sympathetic, yet, slightly amused at my experience, or lack of experience. He assured me that the next sleep out would be better.

Honey had some delightful, flirty boys that were just starting to notice the female half of the human race. They just couldn't stand it that they all had dates to the banquet at the end of the week, but none of the counselors seemed to be pairing off. So at breakfast, the morning of the banquet, they insisted that Honey and I go together. We humored them and stood in line together, and even sat by each other at the counselor table during the meal, but I didn't think there was a chance that the kind, capable guy I'd been getting to know that week would be interested in me.

After the banquet, as we were all making our way to the barn for the slide show, Honey walked beside me with his hands in his pockets. "What are your plans for tomorrow?" he asked. We would have that Saturday off as soon as all the campers were packed up and headed home.

"I hadn't really thought about it. I need to go to town and do laundry. I could also pick up a few things at Walmart. What about you?"

"I just wondered if you'd like to ride to town with me. We could go to the laundromat together. I could use a couple of things at Walmart, too. Maybe we could pick up some lunch while we're there."

My heart was racing as I smiled and said, "Sure, that sounds like fun."

The next morning, after the campers had gone, he knocked on my cabin door. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah, just let me get my laundry bag."

He stepped in to help me with the bag and noticed the sleeping bag in my closet. "Is that the sleeping bag you brought for sleep outs?"

"Yes, why?"

"No wonder you were cold. That sleeping bag isn't made to be used outdoors. You need a warmer sleeping bag."

"Well, then, help me remember to buy one at Walmart."

"They're probably pretty expensive. Why don't you just borrow mine next time? It'll save you the money."

"Ok," I said relishing the thought of having an excuse to seek him out during the next week, "Thanks."

We had a fun time in town doing laundry, and shopping at Walmart, and eating lunch. By the time we returned that afternoon, I was deeply in like with this guy. I hoped against hope that we would be partnered together somehow for the next camp session. It was a two week session, and I couldn't imagine not having an excuse to spend time with him. Or, worse yet, him spending time getting to know any of the other girl counselors.


Kelli said...

Hi Jenni,

I am so glad you posted this. I stumbled on your blog several months ago, and recognized you from a picture you posted. I have been reading your blog for months, almost positive you were my counselor at Blue Haven, but scared to say anything just in case I was wrong. Now I am positive that you were! You may not remember me, I was a sixth session girl, and "Honey's" cabin was our brother cabin that session. I am from Amarillo, and probably half of our cabin was girls from my youth group: Amy, Shawna, Kari, Jill, etc. I had heard that you married R, and I am so happy for you! You seem to have a wonderfully blessed life. Sorry if this is totally weird, me de-lurking like this, but I got so excited to know for sure that it is you! :)

Jen said...

What a great story! I love it! :)

Misty said...

i love your story! I love camp!!!!

SJ said...

Ok, so I was sitting here eating my little snack and reading along. Then you said, "I was deeply in like with this guy." I seriously about choked! Do you like him? Or do you liiiiiiiike him? Can you say it without whining? ROFL!

I'm glad you're sharing. Your story is definately And it will be fun for your kids to have it written down for when they get older.

Jenni at talking hairdryer said...

OK, you got me. It was the whining liiike.

javamamma said...

I'm likin' this love story! Thanks for sharing.

Cheri said...

Love hearing the story!! And yes, you were my counselor!!! But you were also "the girl" during 5th session when I was younger. I remember watching you from the time I started at CBH.
I had a rather exciting, and sad, realization the other day. My oldest will be old enough to go to camp long before I'm ready for her to go. I know that wherever she chooses to go, she'll be blessed with great friends and great memories. But, oh, it would do my heart well for her to decide that CBH is the place for her. Even though I was a counselor at another camp, I still want my children to camp at CBH. I had great memories at both camps (met my hubby at the "other" one) but Blue Haven was such a life changing place for me.
Thanks for sharing!!!

Krista said...

. . . One of many great CBH love stories!! =) It's hard to believe that our oldest will go as a camper next year! Hi Jenni! I joined the 'world of blogging' this past October and came across your blog not long after; although, I didn't realize it was you until I went back to several of your ealier posts a few months ago. It's been SO long . . . what happened? It seems like a lifetime ago that we were moving into our 'cricket-infested' dorm room! =) Marilyn & I were just talking about you the other day, which got me thinking that I should say 'hello'(probably should have sooner)! Hope you and R are doing well!

Krista said...

Yes, I would love to catch up and keep in touch! However, your email is being blocked on your profile for some reason . . . maybe it's just blogger being temperamental. I'll get Bret to check it out this evening. You might try mine on my profile page. =)

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

OK, I've been saving these to read all at once. :) I LOVED the beginning! :) And I loved HIM for offering you his sleeping bag.