Today we’re excited to highlight Kortney and Sonja’s beautiful friendship, formed at Camp Korey and remaining strong today. Kortney was recently engaged, and on this day when we celebrate love and romantic relationships, we also want to celebrate the powerful love of friends. Read on to hear from Sonja and Kortney about how they became best friends at Camp Korey, and how important it was to Kortney for her fiancé Taylor to recognize Camp Korey’s place in her life.

If you have your own story of meeting a best friend or partner at camp, we’d love you to share it with us, either on our social media or by emailing Kathleen at kbanks@campkorey.org. Happy Valentine’s Day to all! 

“I met Sonja my second year at Camp Korey in 2010, while making warm fuzzy bags. Sonja will comment on me wearing my pink visor and a retainer case hanging off of a carabiner on my belt loop that day, but I think it’s only fair to talk about the array of neon colors and peace signs she dressed in EVERYDAY. Being my second year at camp, I promised myself and my parents, that I would try to make friends now that I felt comfortable at Camp Korey. Sonja was the first camper I saw (granted it could be because those vibrant colors would catch anyone’s eye). When we first started talking, we hit it right off the bat. Sonja was way more extroverted than I was at that time; she had a group of friends from previous years that stuck by her side the majority of the week. But Sonja was also really good at making me feel included, and by the end of the week, we were sitting next to each other by the campfire, arms intertwined, swaying as we sang Stars in the Sky. And in case you are unaware, this is the truest sign of friendship at Camp Korey. We have stayed in contact since then, facetiming whenever possible. And just by chance we both ended up going to Western Washington University.

Throughout this time, I started dating my now Fiancé (Taylor). Sonja, Taylor, and I took a trip to Disneyland, and we all survived college together. Now, Sonja has moved back to Wenatchee and Taylor and I are finishing up school. And our friendship is once again revolving around our facetiming chats… which doesn’t seem like much… but when you have years of memories at Camp Korey, you have years of inside jokes and symbolic references that only a Camp Korey camper would understand. So amongst every little red wagon we see, every last muffin in the bakery shop, and every star shining in the sky, we think of Camp Korey and we think of each other.

I told Taylor that before I would agree to marry him, he had to spend some time at Camp Korey. It was true he knew me very well at the time, but he would never fully know me until he knew the Camp Korey side of me. So this past summer he was able spend a week there, and then in fall he spent a few weekends, and after his time there he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I get it. There’s more to this place then words could have ever described. It’s so special.” Finally, on Christmas Eve he had asked me to marry him, and I said, “Yes.” When it comes to getting married, we both knew I couldn’t have such a special day without such a big part of my life involved somehow, and that somehow was Sonja. She not only understands me as a person and a friend, but she lived through some of the hardest but most special times of my life. And this special time is no exception. I’m so excited to have Sonja standing at the end of the aisle with me, and who knows, maybe off in the distance we will see a great big moose who likes to drink a lot of juice.” – Kortney

“I met Kortney my third year at Camp Korey in 2010. I remember when we first met. She was 12 years old, wore a pink little visor and had her retainer case hooked onto a carabiner on her belt—it wasn’t until later I found out that Kortney’s mom told her that it was “cool”. She greeted me with a big smile. Our friendship grew each year we attended camp. Even though we only would spend one week together each summer, she became my best friend. We made sure to stay in contact throughout the year. Thank goodness for our two hour FaceTime calls! Each time we went to camp, it was like no time had passed from seeing one another. The memory of sitting together around the campfire, singing Stars in the Sky while trying not to bawl our eyes out is still one of my all-time favorite memories.

In 2015, I went down to visit Kortney and got to meet her boyfriend, Taylor, for the first time! Had to approve—he passed! We all went bowling and I remember watching the two of them interact and I could tell how much they cared for one another. Fast forward to the fall of 2016. Taylor and Kortney got accepted to Western Washington University where I was also starting my senior year. Definitely was my best year of college! On December 24, 2018, Taylor proposed to Kortney and on January 26th, 2019, I received the biggest honor—to be Kortney’s maid of honor. To say that I am excited is an understatement. To be able to stand by her side on her and Taylor’s special day is more than I could ever ask for. She will forever be my little sister, my shining star, my best friend and the girl I met with the little pink visor from Camp Korey.” – Sonja