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Getting old is an odd experience, one I recommend to young people.

When I think of Camp Huawni, I think of the campers in my cabin when I counseled and the counselors I worked with when I directed. I remember hot days, cool shows, intense competitions, and lots of laughter.

When I think of off-seasons, I remember our old Huawni Pizza Parties in the fall and the spring “Slide Shows” after Christmas. I remember going to these nice homes of Camp Families and watching the highlight video or the slide show and visiting about camp and singing the camp song and wondering how many remote controls you really needed for one television. In fact, I think I was attending a Camp Party the first time I saw a TV mounted onto a wall. We were in a really cool house that had a fire place that you turned on with a button and stereo speakers in every room…and a TV hanging on the wall like a picture. I thought that was pretty space-aged stuff.

So it was kind of weird having a lot of my friends…and their children…come to my house to watch the Camp DVD on my old-school square television. I heard some of the kids say “Mom, look at that square TV! It’s sitting on a table! Why isn’t it mounted on the wall?” But despite my TV, we had a really good time. Although I never counted officially, we had somewhere between 35 and 1,476 people in my living room. Most were from my hometown of Center, but several came from as far away as Nacogdoches and Lufkin. We also had a handful of counselors including Joel Koonce (representing the CQ) as well as Caleb Homer (of the Main Cabin) and Pam Adams (of the Two Story). Kara Adams Gregory and her two sons were there as well representing the really nice house just beside the Joe Shields tree.

As dark descended upon us, Caleb divided the camper-age people into two teams and went into my front yard for a taste of Tribal Competition. As most of you know, while we’re at camp we play a game called “Soccer Kick Around the Pool,” right? Well, that night we all went into my front yard and played “Soccer Kick Around the Tree Close To the Old Bathtub Which Has Been In the Front Yard Since My Aunt’s Trailer Was Repossessed.”

The team I was on was named the Blue Badgers. The team Joel was on was named after some Japanese cartoon that Joel likes. Our team was way cooler.

And the soccer was really good! Both teams had some seriously good talent. And you have to have talent to kick a soccer ball around a tree in the dark. You don’t keep your eye on the ball so much as you keep your eye on the moving shadow close to your feet. One camper named Teagan Mathews kicked her ball way out of bounds and got it trapped under my aunt’s old bathtub. The Phantom and Asia Jones (who were both off work and had come to say hi) laughed at her pretty hard while she tried to get the ball out from under the bathtub.

Then we went inside, watched the video, told stories, and ate these cool cookies that my cross-the-street neighbor made for us. They were chocolate Log-H cookies and they were really cool. Besides being tasty, if you took them out of the tray and put them side-by-side, they spelled HHHHHHHHHHHH. Which is a Swedish word, I think.

Even though it was sure different being a parent who was hosting a party instead of being a counselor who was visiting one, everything else was basically the same: cool kids and cool teenagers playing games and singing songs and looking ahead to another summer. Here in February, this summer is nothing but hopes and expectations. But in just six months, that same summer will be memories.

And for those of us at Camp Huawni, they will be happy memories. And the fact that we all know that and look forward to it? We call that “Huawni Magic.”

And that hasn’t changed at all.

Chris Watlington, Director Emeritus

PS. I was kidding about the bath tub thing in my yard. But I’ve always wanted one, so if you know where I might find one, let me know.