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This past year, in the midst of COVID-19, we have jumped fully into Zoom communication in order to continue creating opportunities for maintaining one of our core values – building meaningful relationships! We have LOVED connecting with current and prospective camper families throughout the fall, and continuing this spring, through what we call Virtual Huawni Hangouts. These Hangouts have provided opportunities for current camper families to invite new friends into the Huawni magic, and share the opportunity that camp is for children, especially at a time like this.

Michael Anne Pritchard hosted her Hangout this past fall. The granddaughter of Camp Huawni founder Daddy Earl Adams, Michael Anne grew up attending Camp Huawni, and now sends her own two kids. During the Hangout, she shares, “Camp impacted me with life lessons that are still with me today…how to serve others, how to make a friend, how to encourage one another, how to compete, how to run a race, literally and figuratively in life, how to go to battle for someone…I learned all while I was at camp.”

Above all, she expresses the treasure of deep friendships she developed along the way. “I’m sure half of my bridesmaids were camp friends,” she jokes. She is grateful for the tight-knit community she had upon starting college because of her time as a camper. Michael Anne says, “Camp Huawni is about relationships and fostering those relationships, which I feel like is the lifelong skill needed to unify our communities.”

Many years later as a camper parent, not only is she still reaping the benefits of growing up at camp in her own life, but she is seeing the value of her own kids getting to experience camp for themselves. When sharing about her oldest, she says, “I can see him thrive in a technology free-environment where he just gets to be a kid. Camp fosters in him the innate ability to be the best version of himself and to be humble.”

For many parents with first-year campers, it can be very daunting to send their children away from home, especially for the first time. But Michael Anne assures that the summer camp experience allows kids to grow in their independence. In her words, “Camp is a great trial run for letting your kids go. It’s a great trial run when you’re not there telling them what to do. You give them freedom, and you give them the reins to be on their own, with supervision and counselors to model relationships for them.”

This year will be the fourth summer at Camp Huawni for Michael Anne’s oldest son, and it will also be the first summer for Michael Anne’s youngest son. She is excited for them both to develop similar life skills and lessons as she did as a kid.

Check out the full Virtual Huawni Hangout below:

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