Tuscarora is often the place people are brought together in a unique atmosphere to grow special relationships. One example of this is the romance of Jamie and Kari Stedjan.
Kari Battillo grew up right up the hill from Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center. It was a part of her life from the very beginning, and became a part of her childhood where she would swim or play. Jamie Stedjan came to Tuscarora for the first time as a second grader attending Junior Week which soon became a family trip to Leisure Week each year.
Their paths crossed for the first time when he was 12 and she was 11. Though romance was not on their minds, they began fostering a special friendship that grew summer after summer until they were inseparable. Just a few years later they shared their first kiss at Teen Week in the Senum Thompson Center. This building was also the place of one of Kari's fondest Tuscarora memories. This building was named for her grandfather, Reidar Senum and was dedicated in his name when construction was completed. She remembers how happy her grandmother, Norma, was to be there with her children and grandchildren, and that the work of her grandfather was able to live on through this exciting day.
Tuscarora wasn't just the setting their love began, but they see it as the reason their foundation is so strong. They were able to get to know each other at a young age, develop a strong friendship that continued over the span of years, and cemented the Christian values that they share. They grew and matured in their faith side by side, and believe this experience drew them closer together.
What began as a summer relationship, moved to Minnesota where the two attended Hillcrest together and continued to date through college. After Jamie graduated in 2013, he planned to propose to Kari. He knew he wanted to commemorate the large role Tuscarora had played in the their relationship.
Jamie worked with the staff of Tuscarora to move the couch from the Senum Thompson Center where they shared their first kiss to the Pines Campus in order to ask Kari to marry him. She said yes, and they were married 6 months later on the stage in the auditorium building that started it all and bore her grandfather's name on January 4, 2014.
In the future they look forward to sending their own children to Tuscarora for Junior Week and Teen Week. These programs were major contributors to each of their lives and they hope it would be the same for their kids. Jamie and Kari also have a tradition of attending Christmas Weekend each year for the concerts and banquet. Tuscarora is beautiful in the winter, something that makes them think of their wedding day.
Their parting advice? Laugh a lot. Don't sweat the small stuff. Have fun together no matter what you're doing.