When I first applied to be a counselor at Camp Huawni my freshman year of college, I had no idea the impact that decision would have. Since my first summer, I have grown and changed beyond what I ever thought possible. Although I only spent four summers in the Piney Woods, I learned about myself, why and how I’m wired, and I met people who will always be in my corner. There is something indescribable about the Camp bubble, and experiencing it with those people who are right there through it all, all summer long. The ones who pushed me to dig deeper – mentally and physically – when I was exhausted, when I didn’t want to know another thing about myself, when I thought I couldn’t make another trip to Huawni Pond.
My favorite Camp tradition is Sing Song. In one of the songs, there is a line that says “laughter and sunshine, you know they run together”. This line paints a perfect picture of what I try to describe when talking about Camp Huawni. Camp is full of sunshine and it’s full of laughter, but it’s also so much more. Camp is all the little moments strung together. The moments that challenge. The moments that reward. The “no, seriously – what is even going on right now” moments. The moments that get us out of our comfort zone. I laughed harder than I ever thought possible. I cried too many times to count. I have memories that I will hold onto forever.
I have many feelings about saying goodbye to Camp Huawni, but I think the biggest one is gratitude. Thank you, Huawni, for pushing me, believing in me, showing me grace, and loving me. All of the campers, all of the parents, all of the staff. You played a role in shaping my time at Huawni and in turn, shaping who I am today. I never could have dreamed that deciding to apply to a random camp in East Texas that I found on Google would play out the way it did, but I will forever be thankful because it led me to people and experiences I never would have known otherwise. My hope for Camp Huawni is that this summer, and all the ones to follow, continue to get better and better with each passing year. I hope the memories are sweet, and the friendships are sweeter. I may only be small part of Camp Huawni, but Camp Huawni will always be a big part of me. Thank you for allowing me be that small part.