As a bit of a chubby little whippersnapper and obnoxious twelve-year old, I hadn’t yet had an official ‘girlfriend’ as I moved into the summer of 1984. You can bet your bottom dollar that I liked girls – I had since kindergarten – but I lacked the gumption and self-confidence to ask any of them to ‘go’ with me. However, this all changed when I went to Camp Woodland Altars during the summer following my sixth grade year. Actually, it was relatively easy to find girls here.
The reason for that was that by the time we had reached the Junior High age, most of the campers had graduated from Lodge Camp into some of the more adventurous, outdoor camps – particularly the boys. So for this particular week at camp, we had only three boys in entire Junior High Lodge Camp. The girls outnumbered us by more than four to one.
Jill Geaslen, a member of the Salem Church of the Brethren, was one of the girls present during this particular week. She and a friend of hers came from Arcanum, Ohio, late on the first Sunday of the camp. In fact, I recall hearing them come in and passing our dormitory after we had already put out out lights. I met her the next day and she promptly began her flirtation with… David Wiley! He was the other boy in my group. So they dated for a day or so.
Eventually, like on Tuesday, she had taken a fancy to me and we began our relationship, which consisted of talking to each other quite a bit. There was almost a moment when we kissed, but somehow the moment escaped us. But what I do recall was that Jill was a very funny girl with a dry sense of humor. And best of all, she called me sir. In fact, she called everybody sir – ala Marcie from Peanuts.
I actually tracked down Jill a few years ago on Facebook. She was married so I had to do my usual bit of sneaky research to find her whereabouts (via Classmates.com). We had chatted briefly now and then online, exchanged a few notes, and also marveled out some of the friends that we had had in common, and not just ones from camp. Of course, she knew Lee McAdams from camp, but she knew my friends Lance and Missy from going to Dayton Christian High School.
In the end, what finally brought us together was that I bought some girl scout cookies from her daughter Kearstine. This was my ploy at finally getting a face-to-face meeting and a photo op with my very first girlfriend. We met at the McDonalds in Huber Heights on Sunday, March 6, 2011. In a bit of poetic irony, my relatively new girlfriend Jamie went along with me. Jill brought Kearstine, who was quite a hoot in her own right. Kearstine asked great probing questions and we learned that being forced to eat mustard was her punishment when she spoke dirty words.
Kearstine and Jill
Jill was cool as can be as well. We had a great time chatting about life and the adoption of Kearstine that she and her husband Chris had obtained. She remembered very little about our camp experiences, so I’m sure that I was less memorable than she was. Which is why she probably broke up with me via letter a couple weeks after we got home. But who can blame her? There was a big world out there to explore without being tied down in a pre-teen long distance relationship.
She may not recall this, but she did try to get back together a few months later though. We had another Youth function at one of the local Church of the Brethren churches and we saw each other briefly. I must have blossomed a bit, because then she became interested again. But by that time, I probably had another three or four dozen gals that I was eyeballing around Ankeney Junior High, none of which I ever dated. Not once.
Roughly 27 years later…
I was trying to get Jill to track down the only photo that I had ever had of her: her sixth grade school photo. But the softball pic at the top was the best she could come up with. It was taken the Spring before our summer camp excursion.
Jill and Kearstine promised to invite us over sometime for another visit, so we’ll see if she makes good on that…or maybe she’ll break it off once again.
Continue with 2011…
Continue to the next reunion…