The simple answer? We met at camp.
The not-so-simple answer? Well, it's not so simple ;) Clearly, since I just wrote it all out & realized that it has to be broken up into multiple posts. Multiple posts that I couldn't be more excited to write because, well... I love that boy. So to answer the all questions once and for all concerning "was it love at first sight?" and "who actually reached for whose hand first?". . . I'd like to share one of my favorite stories of all times: our story :)
I grew up at Camp Bethel. Seriously. Every May since before I was born, my church rented a bunch of cabins and everyone would make the two and a half hour drive to spend the weekend up there. Once we were old enough, my lifelong camp buddy (Lauren Moore) & I started going to summer camp at Camp Bethel as well, starting with the three-day "Tenderfoot" camp when we were really little all the way through our final years of senior high. When I was sixteen years old, I volunteered as a counselor for a couple of weeks... and I was hooked. Many of my fondest memories and closest friends were at 328 Bethel Road, so it just seemed natural that in 2007, I set off to spend my first full summer on summer staff.
Zach, on the other hand, had no intentions of spending the entire summer at camp back in 2007. He knew absolutely no one on staff, he had never gone to Camp Bethel as a kid---yet when searching online for Christian camps in Virginia for Zach's younger brothers to attend, Zach's dad discovered Camp Bethel's website. He saw that Zach was old enough to volunteer as a counselor, and the next thing he knew, Zach was on his way to Camp Bethel to spend two weeks as a volunteer.
We never actually "met." Just hours before Zach arrived at camp, I went home to Winston for my junior year dance recital. When I returned, summer camp essentially started and there were lots of volunteer counselors thrown into the mix that I didn't know. We weren't paired as co-counselors & basically, neither of us are the type of people to introduce ourselves & strike up a conversation. (Read: we're both a little socially awkward, not rude. So not rude. Promise). He was a really good counselor (do you know anyone else in the world who would remain calm & loving when they are woken up in the middle of the night by a random camper throwing up into a fan that is blowing directly on their face?) and after two weeks of volunteering, our boss offered him a position on staff for the rest of the summer.
The weeks went by and we still never really had any interaction...except for that weekend staff trip to Wal-Mart. Ah, yes. A group was venturing out, I decided to tag along, and Zach just happened to be in the group. Upon entering through the sliding glass doors and passing the smiling yellow rollback face, I announced to the group that I was splitting off in search of a pair of toenail clippers. I so wish I were kidding. However, my grand proclamation reminded Zach that he, too, needed a pair of toenail clippers. He responded by declaring that he would join me in the search. And thus, ladies and gentlemen, we had our first conversation. And our first pair of his-and-her toenail clippers, I suppose. Such humble beginnings...
The summer continued without any further profound conversations. Finally, during the LAST week of camp, Zach & I were paired as co-counselors. I had developed a great respect for him over the summer; he was always engaged with his unit and his campers clearly adored him. Everyone on staff adored him, actually. However, between the never-ending demands of a large group of five and six year olds, we didn't exactly have the time to establish any type of friendship. That's how it was supposed to be, though. We were somewhat legendary counselors, THE Zach Jones and THE Beth Haynes, focused entirely on "zero transition time" and singing ridiculously silly songs, ensuring that our campers had the most wonderful experience. It was about them, not us.
Yet on the last day of camp, the Bible study leader asked us to leave for a little bit so our kids could write/draw thank-you notes to give to us. We found ourselves on the other side of the room with no shoes to tie or games to organize, and after what felt like an eternity, I finally worked up the courage to ask him a question.
"Is that a True Love Waits ring?"
I motioned to the ring he was wearing. It was obviously a True Love Waits ring; I had noticed it on his finger weeks prior when we were both in the backseat on the way to Wal-Mart. I had wanted to say something about it then, but I was shy & didn't know what to say, so I figured it best to not say anything.
But now... now we had matching toenail clippers and an incredibly rare, ten-minute window of free time.
He responded that it indeed was a True Love Waits ring, and I began talking about one of my passions: the Worth the Wait Drama Team.
I absolutely loved being on the Worth The Wait Drama Team in high school. We were a group of local students that went around to about 20 or so middle schools across the county every year & performed a series of skits related to abstinence. They were light-hearted, funny, and a great way to start conversation about saving sex for marriage. I explained to Zach that it was essentially the same concept as "True Love Waits," but since we went to mostly public schools & weren't allowed to directly reference God (True Love Waits is a Christian group), we were called "Worth the Wait."
"But love has nothing to do with God!" Zach blurted out.
Twenty-five little kindergarteners who had been so diligently coloring thank you notes on the other side of the Bible study room instantly whipped their heads around to look at Zach. There are some things in the world that simply cannot be explained. This was one of those moments.
Of course, I understood what Zach meant: although True Love Waits is a Christian organization, the title itself does not explicitly reference God... so why should our drama team be required to go by a different name? But the way it came out... and the look on everyone's faces... I couldn't stop laughing. I assured the room that actually, love has everything to do with God because God IS love, and I refuse to let Zach forget his bright little moment. Another counselor, Cody, was with standing with us, and after camp was over, I drew him this:
And just like that, summer 2007 was over. Everyone gathered in front of the staff house on Saturday morning to receive final paychecks, say goodbyes, & head home. I went around with my camera, snapping one last picture with each of my friends. I really wanted to ask Zach if he would take a picture with me, but I was nervous. Legit nervous. He was THE Zach Jones, folks, and although he was incredibly nice and I couldn't think of any reason why he'd refuse to take a picture with me, we still weren't exactly friends, right? I remember standing there semi-awkwardly, hoping that he'd make the suggestion to take a picture together, but he didn't.
This was ridiculous! I didn't even like him like him at this point (honestly!) He was no different than any other camp guy... why was this such a big deal? I thought he was a great counselor & a great person, and even though we didn't know each other that well, I was still glad I had met him. Yet as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't build up the courage. I eventually got in my car & drove away, with no pictures to remind me of Zach Jones, just a pair of toenail clippers...
(to be continued)