Even though Mark had been part of the camp’s waterfront staff since 2010 and Sam had been a nurse in the Health Center since 2012, we didn’t start dating until the summer of 2014. That year, on Staff Bowling Night, Sam got “sheep herded” onto a bus by Mark…literally PUSHED onto the bus (and blocked from getting off) and shoved into a 2-seater that Mark quickly sat down in next to me! We got to chatting on the bus ride back and, the next evening, Mark picked Sam up from the Health Center (in Paul Elmendorf’s Mini Cooper – thanks buddy!) for our first date at Chet’s. We gradually started spending more and more of our free time together, and by the end of summer 2014, we were driving cross-country on our first road trip as a couple. When Mark left to go back to Scotland in September, Sam was a wreck but made her first trip to Mark’s “motherland” that November and has been in love with Scotland (and Mark) ever since. In between our twice-yearly trips (each to the other’s country), Facebook Messenger and FaceTime kept us sane. We even made a tradition of having “Pizza Sundays,” where each of us would get a pizza and pick the same movie or episode of a TV show to watch over FaceTime. It was our virtual date night. Thank God for technology!
In September of 2015, after saving up all of his wages from camp that summer, Mark [very nervously] proposed to Sam in Orlando, FL. She said yes! Sam and her parents were already planning a trip to Scotland at the end of October that year so that our families could meet. Excited and eager to be together and living in the same country for good, we decided to get married during that trip. On November 2, 2015, we got married in Greenock, Scotland with our parents, Mark’s family, and a handful of friends (including former camp waterfront staff members Clair Donnachie and Steph Devine) in attendance. Though we’d initially planned to keep the wedding a secret and had hopes of having a “big American wedding” that more of our friends and relatives could attend, we were overjoyed and soon made it “Facebook official.” In September 2016, our family grew by one when we got our English Bulldog puppy, Jack. Then, in January 2017, Mark was officially granted Permanent Resident status and immigrated to the US.
This past year has felt like a whirlwind for us. After all of the time, we spent apart, literally separated by an ocean and international borders, we still talk about how hard it is for us to believe that we’re both finally living in the same place together…permanently! At the very center of our story, is our home away from home — Camp Chen-A-Wanda! Without camp, there would be no “us.” We are so grateful and appreciative for all of the experiences and opportunities that camp has brought us, and for all of the people that we’ve met and worked with along the way, including and especially each other.