I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost 4 years now. YEAH 4 YEARS DATING. We met at our church nearly 6 years ago and he has been my Best Friend ever since.
Anyway, throughout these 4 years my boyfriend has worked at a camp each summer. It was not always easy (I’m sure at the time I would have said it was never easy), but are relationship survived and became stronger each year. It’s never easy trying to have a relationship with someone who is out of town AND out of service.
There are several things you should know if you are dating someone who will (or is) going to work at a summer camp. It is also important, if YOU are the one working at the summer camp to understand what your significant other is going through “down the mountain.”
So here are some things you should know when it comes to dating someone who works at a SUMMER CAMP.
1. They are REALLY Busy Even If You Are Not.
I can remember countless phone calls between my boyfriend and I ending with him saying he had to go- there was a activity he needed to get to. It was sad to say goodbye on both ends, but it felt much harder for me because I did not have anything to do after we stopped talking.
His first summer at camp, I was still in high school and the only commitment I had that summer was babysitting- a job that can get very redundant and very boring for those who are not called to be around children all the time (a.k.a. teachers). By not having more to do during my summer, I was feeling left behind and lonely. This hurt our relationship at times because I became very frustrated with not having anything to do and took it out on my boyfriend. He was having so much fun and going on so many adventures while I was watching children’s movies and putting puzzles together.
As the summer(s) continued, I got better about keeping myself busy. I hung out with friends more, got a different job, and added some hobbies. This made it easier for me to not feel left out while we were not together.
2. There’s No Phone Service- Don’t Cry
This was very hard to get past our first summer apart. We had only been dating for a few months and talking was a very important part of that.
I joked that having a relationship with him in the summer was like going back in time (no phones= you communicate other ways). Writing letters became a part of my everyday life. I would try to write 2 or 3 a week at least and send them to his camp. Let me tell you, this not only helped me to release some of my energy, but it also helped him to not feel disconnected or alone while he was working. He of course didn’t have time to write as many letters (which I was always sad about), but when he did write, he was intentional and thoughtful. Writing letters to each other and trying to talk on the landline in the camp office every other week kept our relationship strong and our communication alive.
One thing we found to be very helpful for keeping our communication alive was through voice messages (not voicemail’s). I didn’t think about using this until his 3rd summer at camp and I wish I had done it sooner! You can find these on apple phones- they are called voice memos. These can actually be sent to someone in your contacts after you record your message, so whenever my boyfriend had service when he came home I would send him those messages for him to listen to later whenever he had free time. These worked GREAT because I could do them while I was in the car, and he could listen to them whenever he wanted he didn’t have to find time to privately sit down and read a letter. It saved time and ended up being the perfect way to stay in touch because it was almost like talking on the phone!
3. They are IMPACTING Children’s Lives- SUPPORT THEM!
It took me longer to understand this aspect of my boyfriends job than anything. His first summer at camp, I did not take his job seriously at all. I assumed it was just another guy way to have fun and be adventurous.
I was pretty wrong about this though, my boyfriend has impacted so many lives during his time working at his summer camp. He has given advice to young boys about school, helped them to not feel home sick, and taught them how to have fun without being on their technology in a Christian environment. Whether you are a Christian or not, many of these boys had better role models at that camp than they do in their homes.
Being a staffer at this camp allowed him to encourage and mentor young boys into responsible, considerate, and joyful teenagers and young men. I did not see these results until our 3rd summer together when two middle school boys came up to my boyfriend in a Chick-fil-a to see if he remembered them from camp. These boys started asking him so many questions about camp, where he lived, what he was eating- everything- and soaked up every word he said in return. My heart was touched, and so were those kids. So, if your boyfriend, brother, or whoever is going off to work at a summer camp- SUPPORT THEM, because they are supporting others.
4. The Summer Will End- Your Relationship Does Not Have to.
Summers are longer when you have to spend them without the people you care about and love, but let me tell you- the summer does end!
So many of my boyfriend’s co-staffers relationships have ended before the summer was over because many of the girls could not handle having a relationship that involved no phones, writing letters, seeing each other for only a few days every other week, etc.
I understand how hard it can be at times to not be able to talk or see each other, but I can also tell you how wonderful it was when the weekend finally came and there my guy was coming to see me. I had to be really patient and understanding (two things not many people are good at including myself) and if I were not a Christian who believes in treating others the way I would want to be treated, I may have decided to call the relationship off just because it was too hard for me. Whenever I was lonely though, or feeling selfish that I couldn’t see him, or jealous that he was having so much fun while I was miserable, I tried to think about all the good HE was doing, all the sleep HE was losing, and all of ways HE was growing!
So as your summer continues, or your relationship begins, remember these “words of wisdom” I have shared with you. They may not only help you during the summer, but throughout your relationship. If nothing else, these past summers have taught me what it means to put someone before myself, and how to truly care FOR them, not just about them.