If you’ve ever visited True Friends Camp Courage during one of the last weeks of the summer, you’ve probably met Jim and Claudia. Jim has looked forward to coming to camp every year since he was 11 years old. “This annual retreat has become a big part of my life,” he said.
Claudia is not far behind- she’s been a familiar face at Camp Courage for more than 26 years. Campers and staff look forward to seeing Jim and Claudia’s smiling faces every year. The two have taken on many adventures together at camp, and now share the same last name. What you may not know is that Jim and Claudia’s stories first intertwined here at Camp Courage.
Jim and Claudia met during wheelchair square dancing, a popular activity at Camp Courage at the time. They even became part of a group, “The Perfect Squares” that performed throughout the local community and at national square dancing events. Both enjoyed learning new skills while also getting to know some of their best friends- including one another- along the way.
“Claudia joined the dance group in about 1985. It took me four years to ask her if I could call her around Christmas time. The Christmas call took 45 minutes for Claudia to understand just a few of my words, but it was the start to a long and happy relationship,” Jim said.
Camp Courage has been a familiar setting for the pair throughout many milestones of their relationship, including their engagement.
“I proposed to Claudia the next fall while wheeling down a woodland trail at Courage North. Claudia became so excited that she ran off the trail and got stuck in the sand. I had to leave her to go back and get help. We joke that Claudia was trying to run away from me,” Jim said with a chuckle. “We were married the next Spring on May 12th, 1990, by both our pastors.”
Jim and Claudia continue to visit Camp Courage each summer and look forward to catching up with old friends and reconnecting at the camp that has come to mean so much to them. Anyone who has met Jim and Claudia can attest that the two are experts at working as a team, and continuously help one another communicate, complete daily tasks, and everything in between.
Claudia added, “We’re better together than we were apart.”
Q&A with Jim and Claudia:
What is your favorite activity at camp?
“Swimming and boating, which we don’t get to do at home”
What do you love most about camp?
“The long-lasting friendships”
What is your best relationship advice?
“Communicate! As a person with a significant speech disorder, I have found that if I can get people to understand a few interesting words, they will be back for a lifetime of conversations”