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Camp Huawni is a magical place. Some say the Huawni magic lies in the deep east Texas woods waiting for summers to awake from their slumber. Some say it lies in the years of tradition and apexes in the eighth fire where a mysterious man animorphs into the running deer. This weekend proved the fuel for the Huawni magic lies in the people who come year after year to love kids because that’s what they do.

We commemorated our first annual Staff Winter Retreat Friday night come hail or high water, through mud trenches and storms as staff came together for all sorts of ridiculousness and fun. We had a sense that this weekend would be brewing some sort of goodness with the amount of rain that blew the best of the best into Huawni’s gates.

The one and the onlys, Kelsey Biscoe, Juli Quintero, Reed Grant and Erin Delony decked the dining hall out with canoes, stringed lights, picnic tables, outdoor heaters, and a fire pit for weinie roasting and an old fashioned game of Ultimate Bunko. The huawni magic took over and a sit-down-dice-game of luck soon turned into a contact sport with fists to the face, yoda motivations, and panda fail onesies.

Juliana was the first to roll a triple six during our game of bunko…and the panda suit was out!

Saturday morning was flowing with breakfast tacos, hot coffee, and nonsensical conversation. We gathered at the two story where Travis and I opened up the first discussion on the past, present, and future of Camp Huawni. Staff voiced their hopes and insights for another great summer loving kids. We dreamed about the future of Camp Huawni and defined our identity and purpose statements as an organization:

WHO WE ARE: A family legacy of youth development

PURPOSE STATEMENT: Our desire is to see all campers and staff leave our gates knowing their true significance and purpose… (part 1)

After lunch Travis led the afternoon hike while other staff played spades, blackjack, and watched movies at the Hickory House. The evening session focused on the “true significance and purpose” section of our purpose statement. Staff worked through a construct to begin to think through their personal identity so that they can begin to recognize their unique design in order to encourage others to live out their design and giftings as well. We topped off the evening with an impromptu sing-song turned mash-up with Anna Craig, Jacob Grasch, and Thomas Robinson leading the creative hilarity.

Sunday morning we finished breakfast with SOJ and John Marek, LPC-S, LMFT. John shared his perspective on the second half of our purpose statement.

…which we believe is found in knowing and being known by Jesus (part 2).

It was an incredible perspective to hear we each have inherent value because we are made in the image of God and we do not have to fight/strive/compete/perform to earn our significance. We can rest in knowing God is the one who ultimately meets our needs and he uses people as the channels to funnel his love. Now that is magical.

Anna, Erin, and Thomas led worship at SOJ on Sunday.

Here’s to our one-of-a-kind staff who loves so well and is open to learning how to love kids better. We truly cannot wait for our kids to grow up and be like them someday.