My family and I spent a few summers camping at a local campground when we lived in Ohio. We would pack up the tent and supplies and head to Hickory Hills. Being tent campers, we were relegated to a certain area near the back of the campground. It was here I met my most enduring summer crush.
While mom and dad were busy setting up the tent, I was free to roam the campground and scope the place out. It was on one of these meandering walks, I caught this handsome young guy about my age – the ripe old age of 13 or 14 – sitting by a pop-up camper in a nearby campsite. We casually exchanged glances and a sheepish smile.
My walks around the campground became more frequent and I became a little braver. On the third or fourth day, I decided to speak to him as I passed. I tossed up my hand in a friendly wave and said “Hey, Charlie”. Now I had no way of knowing his name, but I had seen a film (cannot tell you the name of it) where someone had an invisible friend named Charlie. I thought I was oh, so clever and cute!
I won’t say I was smooth and aloof because I am sure my visits near his camping space became predictable. I continued to address him as “Charlie” and wave and he would smile and wave back. After several days of this, he finally spoke to me.
”Hey. Can I ask you a question?”
Are you kidding? Ask away Prince Charming. I responded rather sheepishly. “Sure.”
”How did you know my name?”
What? His name was Charlie? Well, that was rather fortuitous.
From there we talked and hung out together. I explained about the movie. I found out his name was Charles, but everyone called him Chuck. I met his father (his mother was far too refined to spend much time camping) and he met my parents. It did not take long for us to become an item.
We were just kids who spent our summer camping. We spent countless hours listening to the jukebox in the pavilion by the lake where all the kids hung out. What great times we had. I can still hear Creedence songs lofting through the still night air. We experienced wonderful freedom without fear. The trust our parents had that was never broken. And of course, that first summer kiss.
We continued to date after we left our summer at the campground. I would learn later that his family was rather “well-to-do” compared to mine. His father held a high position as a Mason and my crush was an important member of the local DeMolay chapter (I knew nothing about either).
Come back Friday to read Part 2 about my first formal DeMolay dance.