By Jen de Ridder, Camp Hanes Summer Camp Director

As a Summer Camp Director I don’t have a job, I have a blessed lifestyle.  I am responsible for making “The 400 Acre Memory Maker” YMCA Camp Hanes a great experience for the campers.  Camp’s goal is to help campers learn their ABCs.  “A” is for a sense of Accomplishment.  “B” stands for a feeling of Belonging.  And “C” is for the Character Traits we value at camp: Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Caring and Faith.   I feel very spoiled by my life.

When campers come to camp they have opportunities to do amazing activities like: zip lines, the blob, canoeing, arts and crafts, archery, games, sports, rifelry, hiking, fishing, drama, cooking, newspaper, photography, music, swimming, water slides, horseback riding, and more.   Not only do they achieve accomplishment from doing these activities but, they also grow coming to camp and staying away from home for a week.  Campers learn to be independent, make good choices and discover who they are as a person.  Programs through the years continue this growth by helping campers progress in activity skills.  The teen campers have opportunities to move into our leadership programs and they learn life skills and we train our future counselors.  Each day I witness the growth in our campers.  How cool is my job!

More important than all the great activities is the focus on making friends and helping campers feel they belong at camp.  The daily schedule, cabin life, meal times and activities focus on creating the opportunity for friendships.   Staff train for a week before summer camp and they learn how to create the feeling of belonging and how to help kids make friends.  Giving kids a fun, safe and positive social place they feel confident to be themselves is the magic of camp.  For many it feels like a second home; a place they belong.

Some days working on accomplishment and belonging can seem overwhelming.  But with our character traits of honesty, respect, responsibility, caring and faith and our focus on values it falls into place.  I am proud of the program we offer.  Even prouder of the life I have at camp.  Our mission is “Helping people reach their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.”  The focus on what is most important, your children, our campers helps Camp Hanes achieve our mission.  Thank you to the families who share their children with camp.

YMCA Camp Hanes offers day and resident camp programs for campers ages 6-15.  For more information visit , call 336-983-3131 or email Jen de Ridder, Summer Camp Director at

Congrats to Camp Hanes on their win of Best Summer Camp in the 2011 Choice Awards!