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Our Team

We have a professional team, who love and follow Jesus, with a variety of youth development experience. We are enthusiastic about fostering an environment of growth for your child this coming summer. Meet our team!

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TJ Nicholson

With more than 20 years of specialized experience in overnight camping, TJ is a veteran at making Huawni a safe and fun second home for kids. He has also served as director of the Institute of Wilderness Studies, where he worked with raptors, snakes, a sloth and sting rays! He and his wife Amanda share deep roots in East Texas, having grown up in Hallsville and Nacogdoches. Today, they lead camp with their three children: Jace, Adley, and Crew. It’s their desire for parents to know their child matters and also that their child knows they matter.

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Natalie Stillwaugh

Natalie, her husband Joshua and daughter Juniper live in Tyler. They were all born in California and have been in Texas since 2014. She loves to gather with friends and family and share meals and conversations. Having people in their home really fills them UP! She also enjoy being outdoors, hiking and bike riding with the family.

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Lainey Buchanan

Lainey, along with her husband Davis, both have a decade of camp experience in a variety of different roles from summer camp to outdoor education. They met working as summer camp counselors in 2013! Lainey most recently worked for the Institute of Wilderness Studies. Coming onto Huawni staff as TJ’s Executive Administrator, Lainey is passionate about providing administrative support in order to free those around her up to do what they do best. Outside of camp, Lainey is a big-time morning person, and someone that is her best self when she’s meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for her friends and family. Davis is a board game hobbyist, loves the Georgia Bulldogs, and is usually the funniest guy in the room. Lainey is excited to continue serving in the camping world as a part of the unique Huawni family!

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Drake O’Bryant

Drake and his wife Brooke have been working in summer camping since 2014, and have served in a variety of roles. They met while working at an outdoor education program called the Institute of Wilderness Studies. Drake enjoys hiking, coffee, Alabama football and has a “The Office” quote for every occasion. Brooke is a big reader, has traveled to 5 continents, loves the color yellow and hasn’t met a potato she hasn’t liked. They have two beautiful daughter. As Campus Director, Drake is passionate about making camp safe and fun for everyone, while keeping the traditions of Camp Huawni alive and well.

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Hunter Hargett

My name is Hunter Hargett and I am from San Antonio, Texas. I am passionate about playing music, films, competitive gaming, and Legos. I have worked 4 summers at Mentoring Alliance Summer Camps as a counselor and senior counselor. What drew me to Camp Huawni was the family oriented foundation that is unlike any other camp I have seen. I am so excited to be a part of it! As the new Men’s Director, I am looking forward to pouring into the lives of young men and creating deep rooted relationships. I love having fun and trying new things. For this summer, since it is my first summer at Camp Huawni, I am looking forward to getting to know the kids and staff who all call this camp their home! I also can’t wait for sing song!

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Mackenzie Buell

Mackenzie and her husband Brent, have been working in the camp world since 2017 in various roles as well as camps, and even met as summer staffers in 2020! They both love outdoor adventures, traveling and games of any kind! Mackenzie is passionate about all things movies and sports, especially the Dallas Mavericks. Brent is an adrenaline junky, loves to rock climb but also enjoys chilling in local coffee shops. The two desire to serve camp well and build lasting relationships with their Huawni family. Mackenzie is excited to continue in her role as Women’s Director, serving and caring for our girls’ camp. She can’t wait to walk alongside our staffers and campers this summer!

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Ms. Ada Earl

Ms. Ada has been serving her famous fried chicken for over 30 summers at Camp Huawni. Ms. Ada makes sure that your camper is happy, healthy, and never leaves the dining hall hungry. Ms. Ada is a great dancer, loves to laugh, and constantly embodies love at Camp.

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Steve & Lesa Abney

Lesa is the daughter of past camp owners, Pat and Linda Adams, and is the granddaughter of Huawni’s founders, Earl and Retha Adams aka “Mimi and Daddy Earl.” Until the age of 22, Lesa lived at camp every summer with her family. Steve has been involved with Huawni almost continuously since 1998. Over the past 15 years he has served with the Huawni Alumni Association and as a member of the Huawni Advisory Board. Lesa and Steve met at Huawni! Together they have three girls, Evan (10), Faye (5), and Ada (6 months). This will be Evan’s third summer and they are eager for their other two to experience the Huawni magic! They love Huawni, its rich tradition, the foundation on which it was built, and are excited for the opportunity to continue the legacy of Huawni for generations to come.