It’s February and love is in the air, but with the decidedly challenging weather that comes with the season, love is definitely harder to feel through all those winter layers. I found myself dreaming of warm summer nights which led me to discover some adorable summer camp love stories.
I had heard conversations around the office about one of our CampMinders who married his summer camp love. After some digging, I learned that we have not one, but THREE of these camp-instigated love stories!
Camp can indeed bring out the best in people, so falling in love isn’t so surprising. What is special is how those summer crushes turned into life-long partnerships. Check out these excellent CampMinder love stories:
Charles and Allie
Nineteen years ago, Charles first arrived at Camp Al-Gon-Quian as a first-time camper. But it was hardly his last. He spent the next 15 summers at that camp, going from camper to CIT and ultimately to camp director. Ten years in, Charles met Allie when they were both camp counselors in the summer of 2010. He was instantly attracted.
“At camp there’s a lot of interactions with other staff members and there was just something that was gravitating about her. She was so nice and funny, she just pulled me in. She was in her element working with kids. I got to see that and it was so inspiring.”
Charles emphasized that he is a respectful rule follower so nothing happened in terms of a romantic relationship until…
“On her 18th birthday at midnight I kissed her on the forehead.” The romantic spark was lit.
For their first date- Charles wanted to create a special time. He convinced the camp director to allow him to take a sailboat and teach Allie how to sail. Some sailing happened. But so did a growing connection between the two of them, which they needed. Because the next four years found them in a long distance relationship, waiting for the next summer to get them together again.
“Someone was playing matchmaker”
Charles was promoted from camp counselor to assistant director and then director in the subsequent years, and Allie would always come up and spend time at camp.
After seven years long distance dating, Charles planned a surprise proposal. Allie was visiting Chicago to watch her little sister play an away game at Northwestern. On their way home from the game, Allie’s parents stopped at the beach near their family cottage on Lake Michigan. After some convincing on a windy day, Allie got out of the car and, to her surprise, met Charles on a pier with a ring in his hand.
When asked to recount the details of that moment Charles says “I don’t remember anything I said, but it was good!”
The Fahlsings will be celebrating their second anniversary in September of 2019
Jason and Sam
“I do remember the first time I saw Sam. I was in the staff training barracks, and I remember I looked outside and to see this beautiful woman walking across the courtyard, and I was like ‘Oh! That’s Sam? She’s gorgeous! I have wanted to go talk to her and get to know her.”
Jason Rich started at River Way Ranch Camp when he was 19 and spent two summers as a camp counselor before leaving to find a ‘real job’. Little did he know that camping was in fact going to be his real job. He was searching for a career that would bring joy and be fulfilling and decided to spend one last summer at camp while he figured out what he would do next.
“I went to camp without the expectation of getting a girlfriend. Quite the opposite, I went into it with the intention of focusing on me. I wanted to have a great time with the kids and the counselors. I thought that having a girlfriend would be a distraction that would take away from the authentic experience that camp offers. But when I saw her, everything changed. We started to grow a relationship, and before it was a romantic relationship, it was a friendship.
“You’re your real self around camp counselors. You can fake it for a day, you can fake it on a date, you can fake it for however long but not when you’re living with 100 different people for 9 weeks straight.”
“In those first 2-3 weeks we weren’t really serious. We started getting tea every night during staff hours. We both knew something was kind of coming of it and at the same time we still made sure we still had our social nights.”
From there it blossomed.
On one of their nights off, Jason and Sam went to a friend’s birthday party, and it was there that Jason asked her out and they ‘made it official’. But at camp, it’s not quite that easy.
“There was a camp rule that ‘If it becomes a talking point, it’s going to be a talking point.’ We made sure to have our social nights and have our together nights. We tried to make sure it wasn’t blatantly obvious. In all the years we worked there we wanted to make sure we balanced it out so that we didn’t hinder our own experience at camp.”
“We dated for 3 years which was amazing.”
The moment that I knew I was in love with her was when we went to the 49ers game. We just had the best time. We were at the tailgate, and we started making friends with these random people, playing corn hole, eating food, playing games, enjoying each other and our new friends together. I didn’t have to put on a face, and I didn’t have to be someone different.”
She’s just this ball of magnetic positive energy. To be honest, I thought no one could match my enthusiasm and my energy. Sam could not only match me, but could give me a run for my money. We balance each other so well.
“I proposed on New Years Eve at a friends house in Newport Beach. The owner of the house drove Sam around on a golf cart and brought her to the back yard where I proposed in front of all of our friends. Seven months later we had our wedding right after camp closed so all of our camp friends could join us.”
Jason and Sam just celebrated their 5th year anniversary and 2019 will be their 10th summer together.
Simon and Blair
One little detail we didn’t mention in the Jason and Sam story above is that Sam is a twin. Her twin sister Blair also came to camp. The stage is set: Enter Simon
Simon grew up in New Zealand and spent much of his career in the outdoor industry in North America. He started at River Way Ranch camp the same time that Jason, from our previous story, started. The two ran in different circles but worked two summers together.
River Way, like many camps, organizes Facebook groups for counselors to organize, connect, and get to know one another before the season starts. In 2010, Simon was recovering from a ski injury and spent lots of time trying to keep himself occupied by watching TV or online…and on the facebook page where he connected with Blair. After a few weeks, Blair told her sister Sam that Simon seemed like someone she could date someday.
They met in person at the beginning of the camp season. Their first impressions of each other wasn’t exactly full of sparks and fireworks. Simon was Frantically busy on-boarding new counsellors, with no time to spare…even to get to know Blair. Blair thought that Simon would be taller and to make matters worse, she began to think he was ignoring her.
Realizing his mess, Simon wrote her a little note, “Hey, do you want to hang out later today? Yes or No?” and put it in her mailbox. With a bit of trepidation, Blair said yes. She quickly realized Simon was even more charming in person than he was online. They became fast friends.
But romance was in the air. One special night at River Way, counselors get to dress up and and have a formal party. Simon took one look at Blair and he knew she was the one. He was hooked.
Then reality stepped in. Simon had to move back to Australia to wait for his visa, which depended on having an employer host him. They spent eight long months of long distance communication until Simon got word that River Way was going to sponsor him for a year and a half. The next 18 months were a blur. By the time his visa expired again, they knew they wanted to be together forever. They just needed to navigate the immigration system. So they made a ‘deal.’ Blair would follow him to live in Christchurch for a year, and then he would move to America forever.
That meant a wedding was in the ropes, and Simon wanted to come up with a dramatic way to ask Blair. What better way than a bungee jump? On top of the bridge, Simon pulled out a ring! Their wedding was on September 12, 2015, in America. They married in California and soon moved to Colorado where Simon took the wealth of his camp experience to help run the client success team at CampMinder.
What about Jason and Sam? A year later they convinced them to join them in Colorado.
I had such a great time hearing these men pour their hearts out for their wives. The expressions on their faces as they recounted their summer camp flings were priceless. The joy in these memories capture just one of the many wonderful things campers counselors and staff can take away from a summer at camp.
From all of us at CampMinder, Happy Valentine’s Day!