A trip to Cameron Boys Camp was a way for Chris Harris’s family to remember him. His wife Britt had only heard Chris’s stories. Now, she was seeing Camp for herself. Her husband’s tales were coming to life. For Chris’s parents, it was a time to reflect.
“Being at Camp saved Chris,” Chris’s father Dennis Kolean says. “Chris had his problems, but between our family and Cameron Boys Camp, we were determined to work them out.”
Chris came to Cameron Boys Camp in 2005 and remained until 2008, Resistant at first, Chris came around and worked hard. The boys and the Chiefs became an extended family.
“Even coming back now, we feel that these campers are part of our family,” Chris’s mom Sue says. “The guys in his group were his buds – he loved them. Camp was the first time Chris had good friends.”
Sue says she had been reading Chris’s letters he sent while living at Camp. “He would write about everything. In one letter, he wrote that the group had stayed up all night ‘getting things right.’” Smiling she says, “He wrote that he was ‘squared’ with everyone.”
When Chris joined the Army, he thrived. It was a group of guys he could trust, just like the Campers had been a few years earlier.
“Walking the same trails again and seeing the campsites, we can’t help but see Chris,” Dennis says. “I also see how much our family’s experience at Camp helped make Chris the man he became.”
Chris’s family were lunch guests. The Ranger group had been told about Chris and about him being in the Army. Learning that he lost his life in service, the boys wanted to do something special. They decided to honor Chris’s memory with three “hows.” “Hows” are given to affirm a camper’s accomplishments.
Standing, the group in unison shouted, “How! How! How!”
“This is great, “ Britt says. “Thank you. Chris would have loved it.”
Camper Dillon told the family that the group would “keep you in our prayers.” He added, “We’ll pray for the baby, too.”
Before leaving, Britt shared a secret. She said they had only found out and had not told anyone else. She announced that the baby was a girl. “Chris’s full name is Christopher Michael,” she says. “Our baby girl’s name will be Christian Michelle.”
For information on Cameron Boys Camp, visit www.cameronboyscamp.org