I’m linking up with Andrea from Momfessional for Show and Tell Tuesday! Today’s prompt is “What was your first job?”
Anyone who sticks around this blog for a while will hear all about how I grew up overseas.
Since I lived in a foreign country, I never had a job until I moved back to the States for college.
At the tender age of 18, while I was still in Africa, I filled out at application to work at a camp in States. My family had a good “home base” church in Pennsylvania, and I knew the family that ran the camp fairly well. My brother and I both decided to work there over the summer so we could make some money while staying close to where my parents were living.
I had NO CLUE what was in for…but there I was at my first real job (I had done tons of volunteer stuff before, but never paid or consistent): A camp counselor:
It was a little rough at first. I was adjusting to culture shock, American weather, being in the “real world”, saying goodbye to all my friends that I had left behind in Niger and wondering what the future held for me. Camp Ladore is a Salvation Army camp, and a camp that accepts a lot of low-income kids as well as a lot of inner-city kids. I had a cabin of ten 6 year olds for 5 days (and nights!) at a time, then we had a 2 day break from campers. That was one of the hardest summers of my life, yet one of the best ones, too. I loved being a camp counselor.
And after two years of being on the other side of the world from my brother, I finally got to be in the same two-mile radius as him. Here we are on the fourth of July, at camp:
That fall, I went off to college and had completely sworn off boys. Well, what do you know, but not too long into the fall semester I met Theo. We didn’t start dating until late Spring and we figured we wouldn’t see each other at all during the summer. I was going back to my beloved Camp Ladore and Theo was going to be at home in Michigan working odd jobs.
The first week I was at camp a couple of the male counselors got fired. It turns out all the jobs at home that Theo had applied for had been turned down, and he needed some work.
Hmmmm…Camp Ladore it was. Theo drove the 10 hour drive from Michigan to Pennsylvania and started work that very day. We got to work at the same camp as counselors all summer long.
That summer was so good for us. It was hard for Theo because in some ways he had to say goodbye to all his friends and family at home (very similar to what I had done the summer before). A lot of people said he was stupid for leaving home and working at a camp when clearly he was only there for me, and besides….we had only been dating for 3 months!
But the truth is that we barely saw each other while we are at camp! Camp Ladore has three camper villages- one for the young kids (where I was a counselor), one for the older boys (where Theo was a counselor), and one for the older girls. Our schedules for our kids never overlapped. We had different pool times, different eating times, different activity times and different bed times. We would see each other in passing with our campers, but we never made a big deal out of the fact that we were dating (I mean….have you ever been around a large group of 12 year old boys who discover who you are dating?!? Haha.).
We loved smiling and waving at each other, texting each other whenever possible, and strong-arming our village leaders into giving us the same break time and night watch nights if possible. Usually we managed to squeeze in a couple hours together sometime during the week while at camp.
What we did love, however was that two day break that I mentioned above. Since my parents were only living a couple miles away, we would get off camp and go home to stay the night and eat some home-cooked meals instead of mass-produced camp food. We would always take a couple other counselors home with us, and my parents house was usually packed wall to wall with people on those days we had off.
One day we drove to NYC with some of the other counselors.
That was a blast.
Another thing that was hilariously fun was keeping our relationship a secret from all Theo’s 12 year old boy campers. They would always ask him if he had a girlfriend, and he would always admit that he did, but refuse to tell them who it was. Every day he would give them a different clue, and they would try to piece together who the girlfriend was. Everything from “she works in Seneca” to “she’s African-American” (I’m not…but I did grow up in Africa, making me a different kind of African American).
One hilarious incident happened when Raul (the kneeling guy in black in the picture below) decided he would blow Theo’s cover and tell the campers who the girlfriend was. I was wrangling my ten unruly campers by the bathrooms when Theo, Raul and their group of unruly campers walked by. Raul yelled to all the boys, “THERE’S THEO’S GIRLFRIEND! GO GET HER!” and before my very eyes, a large group of boys started running at me!!! In that very moment, I had no idea what to do, so I turned around and ran into the bathroom…I’m pretty sure I left several of my campers outside without me (totally illegal!). hahaha. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious.
So that was my first job…and I just totally made this prompt/post about Theo and I’s relationship. But I love that we shared our first job, and I believe that is where I first realized that I loved Theo and was going to marry that boy.
We also came back the following summer (making it three summers that I worked there, and two that Theo worked there).
And basically, this is how I felt about Theo every.single.time I saw him with his campers at camp.