It shouldn’t be too hard for you to picture me as an annoying, young boy – running around and pestering a group of counselors at summer camp. Well…as easy as you find it, Dean Garrett will find it even easier. Although he was never officially my counselor at Camp Woodland Altars, he was one of the staple counselors for all three years of my Junior Lodge days from 1981-1983. He is also part of my memory landscape that encompasses my very first Summer at Woodland Altars. I’ve already talked a bit about that particular week and you can read about it here.
As for Dean himself, I recall that he was a very kind young man. I say the word young now because I have since found out that he was only 18 years old and fresh out of high school when he was counselor during my first week of camp. But then, I just thought that he was one of the adults charged with taking care of us and molding our minds. Kind, patient, and funny would words I’d use to describe him back then. I was only nine and I can say that I didn’t feel like I was a pesky kid when I was around Dean and a few other counselors, with whom I hung out with once camp had ended and all of the other kids had gone home.
Although those words all still apply to Dean today, after meeting up with him for the first time in at least 27 years on Saturday, June 4, 2011, I’d probably add a few: spiritual, intelligent, interesting, thoughtful, and motivational are some that come to mind.
So how did this reunion come to be, you might ask? Same as they all do these days, I suppose: Facebook. On a whim, I looked for many of my camp friends and counselors and immediately recognized Dean Garrett when I saw his profile picture. Understanding that he might need a memory-prod before he ever could recall me, I sent him a note asking if he had in fact been the Woodland Altars counselor. He responded affirmatively.
Sometime over the next few months, he checked out some of my photo albums and noted that many of my ‘celebrity encounters’ were with performers who were well-known and respected by him. He also realized my love of the Our Gang Comedies, and being a fan himself, said that he’d like to talk about some of our common interests.
Our meeting finally came after we had discussed through email attending the same Superman event in Metropolis, Illinois. So we met on that fabled Saturday at Chick-fil-A in Beavercreek, and spent a whopping six hours chatting about life, religion, and common interests: which had now grown into the Laurel and Hardy, classic sitcom, and United States Presidents realm. I also learned that he was still with the Church of the Bretheren, now an ordained minister who often preaches at the Poplar Grove Church of the Brethren.
At the end of our lunch – which had stretched to dinnertime – we said our goodbyes, knowing full well that we’d be seeing each other less than a week later as we embarked on a road trip together, one that would encompass not only our love of Superman and pop culture, but the historical side of our interests as well.
Return to June 2011…
Continue to the next reunion…