My wish was that I could grow up and have a relationship with the boy in this story, Sam, and become a singer. We had been friends for about three years before we went to our second camp experience at Hume Lake, and it was at this camp that I lost my purity bracelet (in this story, it was a ring). I had been looking for the bracelet all night and crying. I told some of my other girlfriends about it, but they didn't seem sympathetic to me at all. I went upstairs in the game building at Hume (if you've been to Meadow Ranch, Hume Lake, you know this as the ARK) and just cried. Sam came in to say good night to everyone and noticed me. He took me to the benches at camp and helped me to stop crying and get into a state of mind acceptable enough for the cabin, and then walked me around the long way back to my cabin. Then, as I was just about to go up the stairs, Simon pulled me into a hug and I knew everything was going to be okay. Through the end of the week, he made sure that I was ok and he tried to take care of me. That week has been cemented in my mind, and sometime I wish I could relive it again. The night that I was crying really showed me what a good friend he was, and what a great guy he is. Camp inspired me to write two songs about this event and others, and my wish is that (when it is more appropriate for us) that we could have a pure relationship together. Marlayne helped me to hope, and in a way, she fulfilled that wish.
“Cathy – is that you?” said the distinctly male voice behind her. Cathy turned around from the registration desk then craned her neck back in order to make full eye contact with the owner of the voice. A pair of dark brown eyes crinkled at her in a smile beneath gleaming dark brown eyebrows.
The face looked vaguely familiar but the voice was much deeper which was to be expected since a good seven years had passed since she had last seen him…
His grin at being recognized so quickly could have lit up the room. “You remember me!”
Cathy blushed. “Of course I remember you!” She didn’t want to tell him how her heart had beat faster for him whenever she thought of him seven years ago. “What are you doing here?”
“Same as you, apparently!” he smiled, waving his paperwork. “I’m one of Meadow Ranch’s camp counselors. I had such wonderful memories here that I wanted to relive them and share them with other kids. What age group are you doing?”
“Thirteen-fourteen-fifteen,” Cathy replied, double-checking her paperwork. Despite the fact it had been years since they had seen each other, her heart was still skipping beats at the nearness of him. Sam had grown at least 12 inches and filled out nicely but he still had the same gentle look in his eyes.
“Next!” called out the counselor registration clerk, holding out her hand for Cathy’s paperwork.
“See you at the campfire tonight!” she grinned over her shoulder.
“Absolutely,” Sam replied, dimples appearing on either side of his smile.
The next few hours was a flurry of activity. She unrolled her sleeping bag and put her clothing put away in the platform tent then made the rounds to introduce herself to the girls in her group. Next it was dinner in the A-framed mess hall, camp songs, and clean up followed by the first campfire of the season. It was almost the last week of August but the air was turning cold and the leaves starting to turn the colors of fall. Cathy, Elizabeth, Emily and Sophie (all veterans of Meadow Ranch) helped the male counselors to start the fire then handed out wire hangers for toasting marshmallows as the campers gathered round. As usual the girls sat together in their cliques and the boys horsed around, throwing pine cones at each other and shoving pine needles down each other’s shirts until their counselor told them to knock it off. As each of the counselors got up, introduced themselves and gave their personal testimony about finding Jesus, the kids quieted down and began to listen. At the end of the evening, Cathy stood up with some of the other counselors and sang a song that she had written herself, teaching the kids the chorus as she went so they could join in. On the last verse they all stood with their arms around each other’s shoulders and sang, swaying back in forth. Cathy’s heart filled with joy as she watched them and remembered how important coming to this camp had been for her when she had been their age.
As the campers drifted off arm in arm to their cabins, Cathy felt a little tap on her shoulder. She turned around to find Simon smiling down on her.
“That was beautiful, did you write that?” he asked.
Cathy nodded; too tongue-tied to do anything else.
“Would you like to go for a walk and catch up before heading to bed?” he asked.
“Let me make sure all my girls are safely in for the night first,” Cathy replied.
“Sounds good…meet you at the zip line in about an hour? Bring your sweatshirt; it’s going to be cold.”
“Okay.” Cathy replied. It was all she could do not to run all the way back to her camp area. Instead she walked away purposefully but she could feel Sam’s eyes on her back because of the thrill which kept coursing down her spine. After doing a head count and making sure everyone was in bed, Cathy ran to the zip line where she found Simon waiting for her. He had a walking stick with him that he had carved, a flashlight and some leftover s’mores from the campfire.
“So what have you been up to since I last saw you?” he began, handing her a s’more.
“Writing and performing my music a lot,” Cathy replied. She then went on in detail about all the opportunities God had brought her way to share her music with others and the lives it had touched. “I have been studying music and taking classes to get my teaching credentials so hopefully I can teach music once I’ve earned my degree. What about you?”
“I’m in college studying mathematics and engineering,” he replied. “I’ll be interning next year at an engineering firm but took this summer off to come back to camp as a counselor. I have so many wonderful memories here and I wanted to be involved in helping kids find the Lord or grow deeper in their relationship with God before going into the workforce full time.”
The continued to walk and talk for the next hour and before she knew it, Sam had walked her back to her cabin. He took her hand in his and looked into her eyes very intently.
“I really enjoyed talking with you, Cath,” he said. “Would you mind going for a walk with me again tomorrow night after chapel?”
Cathy nodded; she was hoping he would ask her again. There was just something about Sam that made her feel “at home” and completely accepted. “I’d love to,” she replied with a grin. The next thing she knew, he was bending over her hand and kissing the top.
“Until tomorrow, milady!” he murmured with a grin. He turned and walked off with a happy swagger in his step. Cathy turned around to find several heads peaking out the windows of cabins and doorways.
“Back to bed! We’re getting up early!” she ordered her girls who were all grinning at her. She made her way to her cabin, brushed her teeth, changed into her pajamas and lay on her cot staring at the ceiling too excited to go to bed despite the fact that she had to get up at the crack of dawn the following day. Sam had unexpectedly come back into her life again and now all she could think of was him.
For the rest of the summer Cathy was kept busy with various activities throughout the day: arts and crafts, hiking, swimming, zip lines, games but every evening she and Sam would walk together under the dark pine trees and talk about their hopes, dreams and future plans. The campers had finally stopped giving them grief over their nightly trysts and had finally come to accept their friendship as part of the daily routine. Summer was swiftly drawing to a close and Cathy was dreading when camp would finally come to an end. She and Sam had grown very close over the last few weeks and the thought of never seeing him again was weighing heavily upon her heart. She just didn’t know what to do about it.
The last evening before camp was over they went for their usual walk hand in hand. Sam was very quiet as was she; she assumed he was as consumed with his private regrets at the summer ending as she was. They walked together in companionable silence then sat down just outside the mess hall.
“You’re really quiet tonight,” Sam ventured, taking both of her hands in his. “Is anything bothering you?”
Cathy nodded. “I’m really going to miss you,” she mumbled, wiping a tear out of her eye before it could drip down her nose.
Sam let go of her hands and instead put his arm around her shoulders. “I feel the same way, Cath-“ he said softly, letting her rest her head upon his shoulder. “But I don’t want to miss you.”
“What do you mean?” Cathy replied, her heart suddenly plunging. Had she been mistaken about his feelings for her all this time?
Sam pulled his arm away for a moment, dug around into his pants pocket and brought out a folded handkerchief. “I have something that belongs to you,” he said, placing it into her hands.
Cathy looked down as he shone the flashlight down on the linen square as she unfolded it. There glistening fitfully in the moonlight was the chastity ring she had lost years ago at this very camp.
“Where did you get this?” she gasped, her throat already beginning to choke up.
“I found it after you left camp seven years ago,” Sam replied, putting his arm back around her. “I held onto it all this time in the hopes of seeing you again.”
Cathy looked up at him; her eyes beginning to swim with tears. “Really?” she whispered. Sam nodded, took the purity ring and slipped it over the middle finger of her left hand.
“Will you promise to wait for me while I finish college?” he asked, looking deeply into her eyes.
“Are you asking me what I think you’re asking me?” Cathy whispered, her heart pounding.
Sam got down on one knee and held her hands in his. “Cathy …would you do me the honor of accepting this promise ring?” he whispered.
“Yes,” Cathy whispered, the tears now spilling down her cheeks with joy. “I would be glad to wait for you, Sam.”