(If you haven’t read Part 1, click here.)
The camp was even better than I had imagined. As my old car rattled across the cattle guard and onto the rocky red dirt road, I gasped in awe of the scene before me. Horses whinnied and chased each other playfully through the front pasture while the cattle huddled lazily beneath the shade of the pines. A herd of misfit canines sprawled across the wrap-around porch of the horse barn, welcoming all of the new counselor recruits as we arrived for training.
I followed the handmade wooden signs haphazardly nailed to tree trunks that led to the main lodge. I wound past the horse barn, down a hill, and around the glassy lake until I finally arrived at the main lodge. I parked and wasn’t two feet from my car when Sally greeted me.
“Welcome to camp!” she said. Traveling to a new place without knowing a soul had me a little anxious, but her strong Southern accent and enthusiastic smile quickly made me feel at home.
“Thanks.” I smiled, as she swung my bags across her back without pausing to ask. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I knew in that moment that she and I were going to be friends for a long time.
The first week of counselor training went by quickly. We were up with the dawn gathering eggs from the hen house, helping in the kitchen, cleaning up the camp, and – my favorite – receiving lifeguard training. The cool water was a welcome respite from the heat of the afternoon.
When Saturday finally arrived I was exhausted, but in a good way. I felt fulfilled, accomplished, and confident that I had made the right decision in coming to this camp. To top it off, Sally and I were quickly becoming good friends. A few years older than me, she was like a big sister (something I’d never had) who I could confide in (something I rarely did with girlfriends). She was just so perceptive about things, and I appreciated her honesty about life. There were no pretenses where she was concerned.
There was an undercurrent of excitement that morning in the girl counselors’ cabin as news spread that the team of male interns was returning that afternoon from ropes course training. Naturally, I was curious, but I wrote it off as a distraction that I didn’t need. I knew why I was at camp – to get away from guys, not find one.
After lunch, I decided to relax in one of the many hammocks hung throughout the campgrounds. I laid in the shade, looking up through the tops of the pines and letting myself get slightly dizzy from the rocking motion. I was on the verge of a nap when I heard the low grumble of a truck’s engine pull into the parking area and abruptly sputter to a halt. All 4 doors of the crew cab flung open and several pairs of muddy boots slammed to the ground as the guys – the male interns, I guessed – sprang from the truck.
That’s the first time I laid eyes on him. My heart fluttered as I took in all 6 feet-4 inches of him. The top of his mud-crusted boots were covered by his starched blue jeans, which were cinched at his waist with a worn leather belt. His blue shirt, although clearly covered in the aftermath of a hard day’s work, was neatly tucked into his jeans. As he finished knocking the mud clumps off his boots, he slowly raised his head, and below his weathered cowboy hat and chocolate brown hair was a face that took my breath away.
Keeping myself from getting distracted this summer was going to be a lot harder than I thought.