Camp is more than just a geographical location, a get away, or a moment in time. It is a forever lasting energetic force, both in my heart and the hearts of so many who have the opportunity of being a part of it.
Bob Runyan, my grandfather, was the special soul who initiated my connection with camp. As many people know he was a big believer in Camp Jorn, so much so that he dedicated much of his free time to the enrichment of its property and welfare. He helped build many buildings on the grounds, all of which we still get to enjoy today. It is memories and energetic love like this, that this location is what it is today. When you enter the grounds you can feel the love palpitating through the trees and buildings, deep inside of each of us we feel we made it home.
My connection to camp and the memories of my childhood bring me to tears, this is where I discovered who I was and received so many life lessons that laid the foundation for my future. The friendships that last a lifetime, the wild hiking or canoeing trips, learning to horseback ride or sail, and understanding the importance of others are just a few that I cherish.
Ryan, my now fiance, had first visited Camp to celebrate the life of my grandparents.Their last wish was to have their ashes spread over the bluff overlooking Rest Lake next to their bench, “Runyans Roost”. Naturally we celebrated their legacy and I was so happy to show Ryan this beautiful place and why it was so near and dear to my heart.
I had been recently invited up to camp by my very first counselor, Carrie Zich, in the summer. We had discussed cleaning up and making sure camp was ready for next year. Unfortunately, I was unable to go, but it gave Ryan an idea.
Ryan secretly reached out to Carrie to ask if she would invite me up again over Halloween weekend for a “small camp reunion”. Let me tell you, I was so excited to hear from Carrie and I jumped on the opportunity. I remember thinking, “how am I going to convince Ryan to drop everything and come up to camp with me?”…..little did I know.
When Halloween finally arrived, Ryan let me know he had a lunch date surprise for me and to get dressed up. We hopped in the car and I kept trying to guess my surprise, but all he told me was, “His name is Jake”. “His name is Jake?” I thought, well what in the world does that mean? We pulled up to a house with a giant horse attached to the cutest carriage. We were going for a horse drawn carriage ride through the woods! I thought for sure I would have been proposed to on the ride, but I was not. I was slightly bummed but as we pulled back into Camp Ryan started to drive in a different direction than our cabin.
We pulled up to the ampitheatre and I remember seeing ladies taking photos….by this point Ryan stopped the car and came around to open the door. “Are you ready Kathryn?” he asked, I immediately was stunned.
We walked up to the Ampitheatre and it was covered in rose petals and candles, with a giant rose heart at the bottom. That is where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
With the professional photographer Ryan hired, we took photos all around Camp and then left for a special celebration dinner at the supper club down the road. When we arrived back to camp, Winnebago had candles on the porch and all throughout the cabin. There were other camp alumni who helped set up this special day and wow did they knock it out of the park. It meant so much to me that everyone had been so gracious and helped Ryan pull off a BIG engagement.
I honestly still get tears in my eyes thinking about how special this moment was in my life. To know the love of my life popped the BIG question at the most special place on earth to me brings so much happiness and joy to my heart. To have my grandma and grandpa’s spirit with me on this magical day, the energetic love that camp emits, and the excitement of continuing the Camp Jorn legacy for years to come.