Who says summer camp romances never work out?
Summer camp romances are known for often being of a fleeting, temporary nature. They can be fun, poignant and even meaningful, but they just as easily can end abruptly once all of the cars, buses, trains and planes transport campers back home.
That was not the case, however, for Dani and Amanda Moss, whose marriage of four years began with them as summer camp buddies.
Dani Moss and Amanda Stevens met in 1999 at Camp Saginaw, an overnight summer camp in Oxford, Pa., a little more than an hour from Baltimore. Dani was 13 and Amanda was 12, and the two were assigned to different bunks.
“Our bunks were in the same area, but we were together for all the sports activities,” Amanda recalls. She says the girl bunks at Saginaw were very close to the arts and crafts center and other activities. In time, she and Dani became good friends.
Dani and Amanda made sure to keep in touch after that summer ended, even though Dani lived in Reisterstown while Amanda resided in Havertown, Pa., near Philadelphia. They remember initially talking on the phone every night, and their parents found a prime, in-between location where the girls could meet every other month and catch up.
Though still young, Amanda and Dani say it dawned on them at that time that they might be more than just friends.
“I think it just sort of happened,” Amanda says. “In your early teens, you find your first kiss and all that. I think we both knew there was something more, but at 12 and 13 we were still figuring out a lot of stuff.”
The relationship continued during the next summer at Saginaw, though decidedly not out in the open. “We kept it a secret from a lot of our friends at camp because we weren’t sure how they would take it,” says Dani, who became a bat mitzvah in 1999 at Temple Emanuel in Reisterstown.
Thankfully, most of their fellow campers turned out to be open-minded and understanding, along with their counselors. In fact, Amanda remembers that several counselors were gay as well and wanted to make sure that she and Dani knew what they were getting into by entering a same-sex relationship.
In 2002, Dani stopped going to Saginaw; Amanda, the following year. From that point, they went their separate ways and would not speak again for a few years.
“[Then] the wonderful world of Facebook happened,” Amanda says.
Dani reached out to her through social media, and soon they were speaking with each other two or three times a week, with lively conversations that carried on for hours. Amanda was studying at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., when she and Dani started speaking again in 2005.
Four years later, Amanda and some friends went on a road trip through South Carolina, where Dani was a year out of college and doing an internship, so she and Dani decided to meet up. The two walked along a beach and felt like absolutely no time had lapsed.
“You could definitely tell that the feelings were still there,” Dani says. A year later, she and Amanda were back together.
In 2012, Dani and Amanda were engaged and married the following year. Today, they are both special education teachers in Galloway, N.J., raising their 3-year-old daughter, Easton, and 1-month-old son, Carter.
After all of these years, Camp Saginaw remains in their hearts and is still a part of their lives. Amanda and Dani keep in touch with their camp friends and have even played on Saginaw’s alumni softball team against the camp’s current crop of counselors.
“Big picture, I would love to send our kids there because it’s where we met,” Amanda says.
It’s been a long, circuitous journey for Dani and Amanda, but the two say they have no regrets about their courtship or their camp years. They’re thankful to everyone at Saginaw and elsewhere who helped them along the way, and sincerely hope that others have people to rely on during their own personal romantic journeys.
Who says summer camp romances have to end?
“What inspires me is we went through some challenges and distances,” Amanda says. “I think that if you’re true to yourself, everything does work out. This has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Also see: findkidscamp.com
Jordan Loux is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.