“Square dancing? That’s the date night you want to have?”

How did I go from growing up in a home where dancing was a “sin” and my moves made a sloth look elegant, to being a happy camper with great memories of square dancing?

I reluctantly agreed. If square dancing is what my wife wanted – square dancing is what she was going to get!

It was a friend’s advice that changed it all.

“Your choice – you can focus on June (my wife), have fun and put in the effort or be a pain in the butt that makes you both miserable. Guarantee you one thing, be a happy camper and she’ll love it!”

The result? I may not be ready for Dancing With the Stars (unless that means I am so far away you can only see me with a telescope) but square dancing together grew our relationship, drew us closer, and we had fun!

What is Happy Camper Dating?

First, let’s define happy camper dating. The idea is to brainstorm something you really want to do together. You each brainstorm three dates/ideas. Then choose one from the other person’s three. The end result? Two Happy Camper Dates! Remember, it may not be your ideal, but the commitment is to be “A Happy Camper”.

What are the Happy Camper guidelines?

Focus on each other: This is a time to rekindle the interest in each other. Listen to discover. Observe to enjoy.

We all love it when someone is interested in us – let’s be that person to our partner. When was the last time we looked at our partner to simply enjoy? We all choose what we like; I made a decision years ago that when I look at June – I enjoy what I see!

Focus on having fun: Laugh, smile and enjoy yourself. We laughed a lot while square dancing and yes, mostly at ourselves. But also because we decided to give ourselves permission to enjoy. Being comic relief for those around us was fun in itself.

Focus on putting in the effort: Have you ever been a part of an activity where the other person was just doing it begrudgingly? Not fun, right? Get involved, don’t hold back and at times (if you square dance like me) look a little foolish. When we really put in the effort the results will often be amazing. We enjoy the time more, we learn and we create a fun memory.

Happy campers are made, not born. It’s a choice. One more thing, don’t focus on trying to make your partner happy. That’s their choice. Focus on what “I can do”.   Let’s be interested, have fun and put in the effort. Try it – I dare you!

Written by Neal Black

Neal Black

Neal works at Power to Change developing leaders. His passion is to challenge people to listen to God and develop their giftedness as they follow where Jesus leads. Neal and June speak at One Day events for FamilyLife. They love to communicate God’s game-plan for relationships with humour, energy and lots of stories!