Campy Ever After
By John Barnett
February 12, 2021
By John Barnett
February 12, 2021
Love is always in the air at Victory Junction. Ask anyone who has attended VJ as a camper, family member, seasonal counselor, or volunteer. And for some, that feeling leads to a different kind of love, the kind that leads to romance and a lasting relationship with a soulmate. Since Victory Junction opened in 2004, dozens of people have met someone at camp who eventually became their spouses or life partners.
Hally and Dan Nave met at Victory Junction while working as summer counselors in 2012. Hally knew immediately that Dan was Mr. Right. “For me, it was love at first sight,” she said. “I even told one of my co-counselors after a few weeks of knowing Dan that I was going to marry him.” It took a little longer for Dan to return Hally’s interest, but he became intrigued after watching her perform a skit in one of the camp talent shows. Later that summer they began dating. and after several years, Dan proposed. They married in 2016 and started a family three years later, with the birth of their daughter, Selah. “Victory Junction holds a special place in our hearts,“ Hally added. “It forever changed the trajectory of our lives.”
Caroline and Eric Hooks weren’t looking for love when they met at camp in 2013, but love found them. “When I first met Caroline, it wasn’t romantic by any means,” Eric recalled about their meeting during summer staff leadership training. “Caroline was the only one that I didn’t know from a previous summer, but everyone had already told me she was awesome, so I had high expectations. Obviously, history shows us that she surpassed them. However, it didn’t start that way.” During their training, Eric, Caroline, and their peers had to take a personality test to measure their compatibility as a team. The test results showed Caroline and Eric were the only ones on the team who weren’t compatible!
Despite the results, they quickly became good friends and fell in love over the summer. Caroline and Eric married in 2016, and this spring they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their son and first child. “Caroline always jokes that I’ve seen her at her worst at camp, being sleep–deprived, no makeup, and at times covered in certain unspeakable things,” Eric said. “But I always remind her that’s when I fell in love with her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Bethany and Justin Baxley met at camp as summer counselors in 2012; however, they didn’t make a love connection until several years later. “I ran the bowling alley and she worked in the barn,” Justin explained. “We got along fine; we just weren’t that close. After the summer ended, we went our separate ways.” After earning her Master’s degree, Bethany felt called to do mission work in Australia, and while raising money to cover her expenses, she reached out to Justin to ask for a donation. Justin agreed to support Bethany, but he was also interested in learning more about her experiences in Australia, so he asked if they could meet for dinner before she left on her next trip.
“During this dinner, that started out as innocent curiosity about her mission, I began to see there was something really special about her. After that night we began to talk more and get closer, but then she left for another year.” Ten thousand miles separated Justin and Bethany, but despite the distance, they spoke often and got to know each other very well. Justin and Bethany reunited in 2017 and dated for a year before Justin proposed to her at Victory Junction. He popped the question on the boat dock during the annual Campership Classic disc golf tournament. Bethany said yes, and they married in 2019.
“The ability to share the “camp magic” with your partner in life is the most spectacular gift that I could never repay, and I will be forever grateful for VJ for that.” – Eric Hooks
Lisa and Drew Ward also got engaged at Victory Junction. They met as camp counselors in 2008 and began dating that summer. “We dated and worked together at camp, summers 2008 and 2009,” Lisa said.” Our relationship was long distance, since our colleges were seven hours apart.” After some time apart, they got back together in 2011, and after dating for three more years Drew proposed to Lisa at Victory Junction’s annual Run to Victory 5K/10K run-walk event in front of friends, family, and hundreds of participants. They married in 2015 with former fellow camp counselors and camper families in attendance.
Lisa and Drew started a family in 2020 when they had their first child. “Drew and I have polar opposite personalities, but the camp magic brought us together!” Lisa added. “We are both still happily married and miss camp daily. We hope to introduce our daughter to camp someday!”
Run to Victory was also the event where Grant and Cameron Page got engaged in 2006. Grant started running in 2005, and he set a goal to run his first half-marathon the next year. “I heard about Run to Victory. I thought, ‘Hey I can run this and raise money for the wonderful organization and prepare for a marathon after doing a half,’” he said. As the date for the race drew closer, Grant thought it would be a perfect place to propose to Cameron, since she would never expect him to ask her to marry him after just running 13.1 miles! Grant attended a dinner hosted for the top fundraisers the night before the event, and he asked someone involved with the race if he could propose to Cameron after he crossed the finish line.
When Grant’s request was presented to camp founder Kyle Petty, he enthusiastically agreed. “I still remember seeing Kyle on the course and him asking me if I wanted to run the other way, and I said, ‘No sir!’” Grant laughed. “After finishing the Run to Victory, I proposed to Cameron. We then started volunteering at Victory Junction. We had talked about it before, but we finally did it.” Even though Grant and Cameron didn’t meet at Victory Junction, they now share a passion for volunteering at camp.
“Thank you to all the people who make Victory Junction possible and create an environment where people are their best selves.” – Hally Nave
The Victory Junction experience can affect people in ways they never imagined, and for some, it leads them to find someone with whom they can live “campy” ever after.