We’re Brian and Laura Leahy. For those who don’t know us, we’re the full-time Associate Directors for Camp Chen-A-Wanda and our entire lives revolve around camp! This is such a cool post for us to be able to write as our journey as a couple and as camp-lifers started during the same summer at Chenny and now we get to spend the entire school year working for camp helping to prepare each summer to be the best one yet. We then spend our summers wearing a million different hats at camp, but our biggest focus is working with our amazing campers and staff members.
We both started at camp in 2002 but under very different circumstances. My wife, Laura came to camp from Nova Scotia, Canada knowing that she wanted to be a teacher and wanted a summer job to help her gain experience in working with kids. She came over as a Soccer Specialist and bounced between that role and a General Counselor Role for five summers before taking on a Head Staff role and eventually becoming a full-time Associate Director in 2014.
I came to camp from California as a Baseball Specialist and up until that point I had never even considered working with kids as a career. I was certain that I was going to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers after my college baseball career ended, but after one summer at camp I realized that I’d found a place that was so different from anything I had ever experienced and I gave up baseball after I graduated to pursue a post-graduate degree in education so that I could (selfishly) have my summers off and keep coming to camp. I joined the Head Staff crew as a Baseball Director in 2003 and have filled several other roles prior to transitioning into my full-time role as Associate Director.
As for our story as a couple, it definitely got off to a slow start! As Sports Specialists in 2002, we must have walked past each other hundreds of times but we never said a word to each other. I mentioned several times to my buddies that I thought she was beautiful, but never even fathomed speaking to her. Playing hard-to-get was more my style 😉 We each came back to camp in 2003 with significant others from our respective hometowns, so we once again never said a word to one another. I then missed the 2004 summer to finish my teaching credential and Laura then missed the 2005 summer to add other work to her resume. 2006 rolled around and I finally mustered the guts to introduce myself. I strolled up to Laura one day while she was hanging out with one of her friends and introduced myself as “The idiot who never had the confidence to introduce myself before.” Our first date was a foosball tournament at Chet’s Place nearby camp in which Laura boasted about her supreme skills. She turned out to be awful and we got destroyed and eliminated in our first-round game.
Despite Laura’s subpar foosball showing, we had a blast together and I knew that I was with someone incredibly special. We spent the 2006-2007 school year trying to figure out whether or not we were dating as Laura was in Canada finishing school and I was back in California teaching kindergarten. We officially came back to camp in 2007 as a couple and I surprised her that December by showing up at her apartment in Calgary with an engagement ring. (Fun bit of trivia: The first person I called from the jewelry store parking lot after buying her ring was our camp owner, Jon Grabow!) We got married by a justice of the peace in her parents’ kitchen in March of 2008 to kick start my VISA application to immigrate to Canada. This was my first time meeting her parents, by the way. Nervous doesn’t begin to cover how I was feeling. We ultimately had our real wedding on a beach in Nova Scotia in 2010 where our dear Chenny friend, Matty Lennon presided over our ceremony.
On October 14th, 2015 our lives changed forever as Laura gave birth to our daughter, Avery Elizabeth Leahy. She’s now going to be at camp for her third summer and it’s like she has hundreds of big brothers and sisters as our campers and staff have truly embraced her as the “Camp Baby.” I swear that the overwhelming majority of her clothes are red and gold and at this pace, I don’t know how long we can keep her out of a bunk! She truly loves camp as much as we do.
Laura and I can’t even imagine what our lives would be like without camp. We truly found our happy place and we feel so lucky to have met at a place that epitomizes love. We’re so fortunate to be able to talk about camp as the place where our love story began, but also as the place where our future will continue to grow. It’s where we’ve shared a million memories together and where billions are yet to come.
We’re thrilled to share our love story with our camp family this Valentine’s Day, and we can’t wait to hear about the next great one. Chen-A-Wanda is filled with enough love to keep producing stories like ours forever!
Happy Valentine’s Day!