How did you and your wife meet? (Jon)
I’m from Park Rapids, MN and my wife, Jess (maiden name Kuehn, pronounced Keen) is from Plymouth, MN. Jess and I met at Camp Lebanon the summer of 1999. I was an 18-year-old lifeguard (a coveted program staff role) and she was just starting out as a 13-year-old volunteer. At this point we didn’t really know each other directly and she wasn’t there all summer. So it’s safer to say she knew of me more than we knew each other. One of the first memories Jess has of me is from that first summer when I was a lifeguard. She also remembers Josh Gerth and myself being on stage leading music and activities.
I took two summers away during the time that Jess did Leaders in Training (LIT). My first memory of Jess was when she and a friend actually slept in a tent next to Scandinavia, complete with her owl lamp and a long extension cord. That summer, 2001, I ended up working with the Jr. Staff/Counselors and that’s when we really got to know each other.
I started on maintenance, then worked in the kitchen, housekeeping, LIT, Jr. Counselor, Lifeguard, and as Chapel Coordinator. Jess did all the same but instead of Lifeguard and Chapel, she was Craft Coordinator and Eagle Ridge helper. We overlapped a few years and she was craft lady when our friendship was really kindled.
We had a number of mutual camp friends and bumped into each other a couple of times away from camp and then started chatting more specifically to each other. We started dating in January 2004 and then went back for our final summer at camp. We were married in June 2007.
We currently live in Roseville, MN with our twins, Walker and Davis, who are 8 and our daughter, Hazel, who in 5. Jess is working at Bethel as a Design Professor and I’m a Software Architect for Renaissance Learning. We both so desperately remember Camp fondly.
How has Camp impacted your lives?
This answer applied to both of us. Camp defined us. Our most formative years were spent there. Our best friends were found there. We truly met God there. I’d been a church kid for my entire life, but for both of us, being at Camp made God something tangible. Our relationships with him became real and it became ours at camp.
Whenever I’m asked, “How does your faith impact your life?” my answer is the same. It doesn’t. It IS my life. Camp was a place where your faith was melded to your work. The ups and downs of normal everyday life were saturated in such a way as to obliterate the distinction. That’s been the most significant thing camp did for me.
Why is Camp a special place for you?
For the same reason as above. Camp calls itself a meeting place with God. Quite frankly, there’s no better description. The quiet, trees, lake, being surrounded by nature and other Christians give your faith time to breathe. It gives you space to think and to contemplate. It gives you a chance to commune with God in a way that is ever increasingly rare.
Share your Camp story!
We’d love to hear your Camp Lebanon story! Whether you met your spouse at Camp, gave your life to Jesus, or just have a fun memory to share. We’d love to hear it! Just follow the button below to a quick story form.