Many camp loyalists claim that the camp experience brings lifelong benefits, and for Lisa Jane Hart and Kenneth Neil Steuer one of those was a later-life romance.
The two met in August 1973 at Farm Camp Lowy in Windsor, NY, a small camp that attracted mostly New York and New Jersey kids whose parents appreciated that there were no color wars here. Ms. Hart was 13 and Mr. Steuer was 15. He had a secret crush on her. She had a crush on someone else in his bunkhouse.
But she remembered him in her diary, albeit more cautiously than passionately. “Camp was good,” she wrote. “Hit Kenny Steuer. He is a good boy. He writes well for a boy.”
The two corresponded for a while after camp, he from the Upper West Side of New York and she from Tenafly, NJ. Inevitably, they lost contact.
Almost 40 years later, courtesy of a Facebook page set up by Farm Camp Lowy’s alumni, the two got back together when Mr. Steuer posted a fond memory of camp in 2011: The night they had a coed sleepover and he secured a spot for his sleeping bag next to Ms. Harts. He also hinted in the post that he might still have a crush on her.
Ms. Hart, who never married, is now 62 and a leadership, career and transition coach in New York. She saw the mail around New Year’s Eve and sent Mr. Steuer a message that just said “Hello”.
it was enough Mr. Steuer, now 64 and an investment adviser in New York, responded.
But life issues interfered for both of them. He had health problems and his marriage was coming to an end. She was dealing with a death in the family. They began talking on the phone in February 2012, but didn’t meet until May, when they went to Zabar’s and then had a picnic in Central Park.
“I didn’t think of it as a date, but when I went I thought we had a really good connection,” said Ms. Hart, who graduated from Boston University and received a law degree from the University of California. Hastings College of Law.
A few weeks later, Ms. Hart’s younger sister, who lived in San Rafael, California, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and Ms. Hart spent the next year flying between coasts, balancing a new relationship and impending death. Her sister, Alison Hart Schlosser, died in May 2013.
Mr. Steuer’s life was also in upheaval. He moved out of his family’s home in Plainview, NY in September 2012 and eventually finalized his divorce two years later.
The two found solace in each other, but also felt limited.
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“Lisa was always very, very clear,” said Herr Steuer. “She wasn’t the type of person who would date a married man. She wasn’t. She wasn’t a robber.”
But it wasn’t just rules that guided them. “I remember thinking, ‘I think I’m falling in love with this guy,'” Ms. Hart said.
They persevered and eventually their relationship blossomed.
In 2017, a few years after her sister’s death, Ms. Hart also lost her mother. But not before introducing Herr Steuer and telling her, “That’s the guy I’m going to marry.”
One night in 2020, while avoiding a formal engagement, they agreed that they should probably legalize it.
“What establishes our relationship is that friendship,” Ms. Hart said, explaining why a proposal was unnecessary. “We really like each other.”
On November 12, they married in front of 33 guests at Smith Farm Gardens, a venue in East Haddam, Connecticut. Adam Feder, a friend of the couple who is a Universal Life Minister, officiated.
A friend asked why, after being together for so long, the two felt it necessary to get married. Ms Hart said her husband-to-be replied: “We’re just a bit old-fashioned in that regard. We want to be seen and become each other’s family.”
The first-time bride also had a bit of wisdom to impart. “I never had any intention of getting married,” she said. “I just really understood what it takes to make a relationship work. You have to be super intentional. It’s not the movies. You have to decide who you want it tough with, and I felt like Ken and I could take it tough together.”
The groom has a more philosophical perspective.
“The flow of life kind of brought me back to her,” he said. “And that’s a wonder of the universe.”