A YMCA Summer Camp Love Story about Joseph and Brittany Constantine
written by: Joseph Constantine
I was 14 years old when I started working for the YMCA out of the Urbana location. I started as a CIT (Counselor In Training) at Camp Genstar and returned every summer. Eventually, I was old enough to begin really working as a staff member for Camp Genstar. Around 2007, Camp Genstar would close due to the land selling and the YMCA would start its new nature camp at Camp West Mar; an American Legion owned camp in Sabillasville, MD. As I did every summer I continued to work as a staff member at the new location. I would graduate high school from Linganore in 2008 and start my college education at Frederick Community College in the fall of 2009. I decided to start working my summers directly for the Frederick YMCA as a camp counsoler. This gave me opportunities to work other types of camps and other departments at the Y. However, I still always found time to continue working at Camp West Mar.
Deciding to work directly at the Frederick YMCA would turn out to be the biggest decision of my life. It not only allowed me to work other camps outside of West Mar, but it would lead to me eventually meeting the love of my life in 2011. I first saw her when I was working the morning drop off for the camps at Staley Park. We would spend the beginning of the summer in separate camps. We would catch glances of each other as our camps passed by one another. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I was immediately drawn to her because I could tell she had a passion for working with children, like I did.
I would make my first impression on her one morning when another counselor and I were throwing a football around with the kids. I was young, timid, and didn’t know how to talk to an attractive girl. I decided to try the childish game boys play of overthrowing a ball, nearly hitting the girl, to get her attention. I dropped back and threw the football long nearly hitting her. It worked – I caught her attention. Or maybe I already had her attention and didn’t realize it.
I still did not have the nerve to talk to her so I would talk about her to other people, secretly hoping that she would find out through the grapevine that I liked her. In later years, I found out that she would hear about everything that I had said. This turned out to be an important life lesson: Watch what you say to people, because they don’t know how to keep secrets. Luckily, in this situation, it helped me out since I was to afraid to talk to her.
It would be several weeks until we were able to work the same camp together. We ended up working at Camp West Mar. I was finally going to get my chance to talk to her. I had to play it cool though and I couldn’t immediately talk to her. After a couple days, we were paired up in the nature class. That day we were taking the kids fishing in the pond. She and I were tasked with setting up the fishing rods before the kids came to the pond. She was sitting on a table underneath the pavilion overlooking the pond. I didn’t know what else to say so I tried to act like a tough guy and asked her if she knew how to string a fishing rod. I was so nervous but I finally got a chance to speak to the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Fortunately, she did not know how and I would go on to teach her how to set up the fishing rod.
We would eventually start texting, like all millennials do, and began to get to know each other. We both went about the rest of our summers. We stayed in contact with each other, but it wasn’t until the end of the summer that I would work up the nerve to ask her out on a date. I picked her up and took her to the Rio in Gaithersburg for an Italian dinner.
The summer ended and we both were going away for college. She was attending the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus and I was heading off to the University of Maryland College Park. When we left for school I told her that it was my last year of College and I had recently gotten out of a relationship, so I wasn’t interested in being in a relationship. Even so, we continued to talk over the phone. We ended up spending the first couple weekends going back and forth to one another’s college to visit. About a month later I was convinced she was the one. On September 9th, 2011, I asked her to “officially” be my girlfriend. I would graduate from University of Maryland College park in 2012 and return to Frederick while she continued school at UMBC.
In 2013 I was accepted in to the Frederick Police Department’s Police academy. I became a police officer with the Frederick Police Department, continuing to serve the Frederick community, just in a different capacity then when I worked at the YMCA. She would eventually graduate from UMBC in 2014 with a teaching degree in math. On July 19th 2014, I proposed to her. A year later, on July 25th 2015, we were married. During the reception, the groomsman and I did a semi-choreographed dance to the YMCA song where we each dressed as one of the Village People. You guessed it – I was the police officer. A few years later, on July 15th 2017, we would have our son.
July has been a very joyful month in our relationship and our life. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the YMCA and both of us having a passion for working with children that led us to working the summer camp at Camp West Mar. Ironically, we now live 3 miles from Camp West Mar, where we fell in love.