Monday, April 10, 2017

106. Camp Nawakwa and the Summer of 1948


Since the Junior Prom at our high school on May 15,  Nancy and I were together every day at school and often in the evenings as well. Then, on June 2, it was time for  me to leave Gettysburg for my summer job at Camp Nawakwa about twelve miles north of town.

In the summer of 1946, I began working at Nawakwa, a Lutheran camp for  children, youth and adults nestled in 336 wooded acres of the South Mountains.  I lived and worked at the camp each summer for six years initially, on the ground crew but eventually as an assistant to the chef in the camp kitchen.

According to Nancy’s diary, on our last night together, I told her that I would not be seeing her again until the 4th of July. I said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Hah! Five days later, I hitched a ride to Gettysburg with the camp truck driver, and Nancy and I enjoyed a brief visit on a Sunday afternoon. 

That summer, we began writing letters, an activity that would last throughout college, my early tour in the Marine Corps and a fourteen month separation when I was ordered to Japan in 1954. We estimate that from that first letter in 1948 until writing was no longer necessary, each of us wrote well over a thousand letters to each other.

Remarkably, we still have the very first letter Nancy wrote to me postmarked June 3, 1948. It was a brief summary of her activities for the day ending with, “Love, Nancy.”  We also have a letter written to me at Camp on July 4, 1949, and . . . “What a difference a year made!” Our letters by that time clearly indicated that we were very much in love.

Every summer for the next four years, Nancy and I were apart during the week while I worked and lived at Camp Nawakwa, but typically, we found a way to be together for a Saturday night date.

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