*If you missed part 1, you can catch up here.
• • • • •
Has anyone heard from Zach Jones?
Five months had passed since summer camp ended. It was Christmas break, and just like every year, the Camp Bethel staff had reunited to catch up with one another. We gathered in the House of Pillars, laughing and talking and shoving our faces with food.
But seriously, where is he?
Does anyone know if he's planning on coming this weekend?
Is he even alive?
Zach was perhaps the ONLY high schooler in December of 2007 without a Facebook (I know, right?) and the only 2007 staff member to not list a cell phone number on our contact sheet.
Has anyone talked to him since summer ended?
The room got silent.
Someone should call him.
That last voice... yeah. It belonged to me. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I turned to my close friend, Karen, with the most shocked look on my face. An absolutely horrified face that clearly said, "Did I really just volunteer to call Zach Jones? I hateee talking on the phone. I'm such an awkward person; this is going to be terrible! I don't even get to call his cell phone... I have to call his house phone! I can't remember the last time I called somebody on their house phone!"
Someone left to find the staff address sheet with everyone's phone number as I continued my panic aloud.
Karen, what was I thinking?! I'm horrible at talking on the phone! Will you call him?
Beth, it's just a phone call.
But I don't even know what I'm supposed to say!
Just say that we're all up here at camp and wanted to see how he was doing. And tell him that we'd love for him to stop by this weekend if he can make it.
But what if he doesn't answer the phone? What if someone else does?!
Karen laughed at me.
I'm serious, Karen! Please, please, please... will you call him?
Beth. Call him.
At that moment, somebody began reading off Zach's phone number and I typed in the digits, completely clueless that my fingers would one day memorize the pattern of dialing that number. I glared at Karen, and after taking a deep breath, I pressed "send."
For the love of all that is good, why did I volunteer for this? How did those words come out of my mouth?
What if nobody answers? Oh, that'd just be perfect! Fingers crossed.
Please don't answer, pleaseee don't answer!
Yes, nobody is home! Now I don't have to---
Seriously?! A voice answered... and that voice clearly did not belong to an 18-year old boy. (There is still some discrepancy to this day as far as who I actually talked to that night...)
Ah, darn it! Say something, Beth!
Um, hi. Is Zach there?
The voice told me that Zach was at work and wouldn't be back for a couple of hours. I managed to get out something similar to what Karen had told me to say about being at camp and hoping that he'd have the chance to stop by. Then I quickly ended the phone call.
See, that wasn't so hard.
I shot Karen a look and informed the rest of the room that (unfortunately) Zach wasn't on his way to camp. Everyone was disappointed, but the conversation soon shifted to who was daring enough to jump into the sub-freezing waters of the spring at midnight. Zach wasn't mentioned for the rest of the weekend.
Then why couldn't I seem to get him out of my head?
• • • • •
A few weeks later, I logged into my email account and discovered that I had an unread message from "zkej89."
Was this who I thought it was?
I clicked on the email, dated January 21, 2008, and read the first line.
"Hey, it's Zach Jones..."
I couldn't believe he had responded! After winter camp, I had written Zach a short letter, basically telling him that everyone missed him. I mean, didn't he know that it was kind of against the rules to drop off the face of the earth after spending the summer at Camp Bethel? Who does that? (ps. Zach still has this letter). I sealed & addressed the envelope and stuck it in the mail, wondering if I'd ever hear from him. Boys aren't always known for writing letters. Yet, on the screen in front of me, the text clearly read "it's Zach Jones." Of course, it wasn't a snail mail letter, but it was a response nonetheless. He apologized for not staying in touch and filled me in on his life. I replied right away and we emailed a couple of times that week---nothing more than a line or two. It never turned into anything. The months passed, and I honestly didn't give Zach Jones another thought.
That is, until I received the 2008 summer staff packet. I was just weeks away from graduating high school and couldn't be more excited to spend my first summer as a SENIOR counselor at Camp Bethel---I was moving up in the world ;) I knew most of the people who were going to be on staff, since we constantly talked and had been anticipating the arrival of summer for months. I eagerly scanned the alphabetical list of counselors' names:
Beth Haynes... Julie Heaton... David Jamison... Zach Jones...
Zach Jones?! He was working at camp again?? The thought had never crossed my mind that he would return for a second summer, especially since nobody had heard from him all year. What a surprise!
I didn't know it was possible to be more excited about camp than I already was, but I couldn't help but grin as I read his name and felt my heart skip a beat. It was going to be a good summer indeed...
(to be continued)