When Harry Talbott, Sr. met Margaret, his future wife, at the Grand Mesa Baptist Camp in the early 1930's, it started a chain of events that not only includes Harry Talbott, Jr. and his wife Bonnie, but many more!
"He invited her to go horseback riding with him," Bonnie explained, regarding Harry Sr.'s first date with Margaret. "So, then when he went to pick her up at the girl's dorm, she wasn't there, but her sister was. And he thought he was speaking to her and he said, "Are you ready to go?" and she said, "I don't believe I know you." So that was always a fun story for the family."
Soon their children were off to camp, and yes, that's where 16-year old Harry, Jr. experienced love at first sight.
"I forgot her name on our first date, so it was a little embarassing to me. But that was easily overcome by asking her," he said.
But was it love at first site for Bonnie as well?
"Well, no," she answered. "I was the new girl. We had just moved to Cortez and I was the preacher's daughter and was the new girl at camp, so I went with a new guy everyday at camp," she explained with a laugh.
But as Harry explained, he was determined to win her over.
"One time when we were at Ottawa she went out with another guy and I sent some of my friends to make sure she didn' t have a good evening," he explained with a sly grin and a chuckle.
Sometimes called the "Matchbox" camp, the Grand Mesa Baptist Camp has quite a history that includes generations of the Talbott family meeting their spouses or getting married at the camp.
"We have a picture of various family members who either met or married at Grand Mesa, and I think there's about 14 couples," said Bonnie.
The Talbotts say the matches have happened in many other families.
"...there's a lot of people I'm sure in both the Baptist and the Methodist camps that met their partner at Grand Mesa Camp," Bonnie recalled.
Harry and Bonnie have held many positions at the camp and some come with good stories.
"We would ring the bell to get everybody up in the morning, and so a lot of times guys would turn the bell over and fill it with water so the first bell ringer got a bath," Harry explained.
Bonnie captures all of her family's camping experiences along with the rest of their lives in pictures and script, as is evidenced by their walls and the books she has so diligently put together.
"They love to come see their baby books... They'll go through their baby books and look at the pictures and talk about them and these include letters to them about highlights of their life," she explained.
It's a part of their life that has meant so much to them both. In fact, Harry says he has missed one year of camp since the mid 1940s, a nearly perfect attendance interrupted by one winter too snowy to open the camp in the spring.
Now, as they share their secrets for a happy marriage and family life, it's obvious that faith, humor, and camping are the answers.
"If other families can do that I think it will make them stay together and grow because, you know, a lot of families are really scattered all over. I mean not just physically, but they're scattered psychologically," explained Harry.
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