This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.

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In my pre-adult, single days, back during high school and college, my summers were spent at camp. Actually, I remember going to camp for at least a week… I can’t remember because I was pretty young when I started going. But once I turned 16, camp was my summer job. I loved it. The work was hard and the pay was terrible, but I got to taste some independence, live in a dorm room, and get to know other girls my age. We were up at dawn and in the kitchen, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and cleaning up afterwards. On the weekends, we spent Saturday cleaning the kids cabins and Sunday after church cleaning the family cabins. Mid-week we might add in some cleaning for some of the larger facilities that were rented out for shorter time periods (often for family reunions). We were scheduled for time helping in the camp store, selling sugary concoctions to children who were already driving their counselors crazy. Other times we would be scheduled for checking out recreational equipment (otherwise known as rec-check), giving basketballs, shuffleboard poles, and tennis rackets to campers throughout the day.

Each week, we would get one day off (never on the weekend). These were spread out over the course of the week so that enough workers were left. We had curfews in the dorm but were allowed to go home for our day off if we chose. Once I had a car, I often chose this option.

By my second year working, my sister elected to join me. I don’t think she loved it quite as much as I did, but she came for a couple of years. Eventually, she switched to another camp, one in Minnesota that employed counselors instead of cleaning/kitchen staff (our camp at the time utilized volunteer counselors each week instead of paid). I think she also enjoyed the fact that they had horses, and became quite adept at riding and teaching others.

What does all of this have to do with the story of Samantha? Well, technically nothing, but her story is wrapped in a larger story of our family, and camp is a part of it. Again, please forgive all of this prologue, but it will get us to the full story eventually with greater understanding.

My sister and brother-in-law both worked at that camp, and have always loved it. So even as they have had children and moved around the country, they’ve made a point of returning to the camp in Minnesota year after year. It helps that my brother-in-law’s parents live fairly close to it, so they can combine visiting family and a beloved spot into one trip. The summer of 2010 was no different. They were attending Family Camp, where they could bring along their children and enjoy all of the activities afforded to them by the great outdoors: swimming, hiking, and of course, horseback riding.

I think it may be the last time my sister got on a horse…

Next post coming tomorrow.