By Guest Blogger Jen de Ridder, Senior Program Director at YMCA Camp Hanes

It’s hard to put your finger on it. There is something that happens when you turn that corner onto the campus at YMCA Camp Hanes and you start to feel it. There is something magical about this place set below beautiful Sauratown Mountain just 25 minutes outside Winston-Salem, but it feels like a world away.

As we rebuild camp after the May tornado we have so many new opportunities ahead. With love and support of so many, we held one of the greatest summers of camp ever. The biggest joy was seeing campers still focused on having fun and being their best selves. The culture and strengths of camp did not change showing us, storm or no storm, the magic of camp.


The most common phrase we hear from our campers and staff is, “I am my best self at camp.”  Wow! As a mom, I know that’s something I want to hear from my kids and I have a feeling a lot of parents feel the same way.

At YMCA Camp Hanes, we know that if we intentionally create an emotionally and physically safe environment campers can grow. With time to just be a kid, campers become more independent and self-reliant. They face new challenges, form new friendships, and overcome fears. And with each goal they accomplish, kids grow more confident.

We see the evidence all summer long, but there’s also science behind it. According to the American Camp Association, recent research on brain development shows us that the middle prefrontal is an important area of the brain when exploring the lasting impact camp can have on a child’s development. This part of the brain helps campers have better attention skills, communication, self-awareness and empathy. The brain, like any muscle, grows with use. As kids come to camp they try new activities, make friends, develop skills, and learn to process emotions. This all provides exercise to the brain. Because of the safe environment they feel more confident, have fun, and connect with those around them.


Maybe that’s how you describe the magic of camp. At YMCA Camp Hanes, we know the magic happens when campers become their best selves.

Contact us today to see how we can help your children become their best selves. We offer programs for campers 6-15 years old. We have day camp, overnight camp, family camp and adventure programs. From rock climbing to water zip lines we have it all! Most important we use our amazing activities and culture to build a sense of achievement, belonging and relationships. We would love to have you and your family visit YMCA Camp Hanes to see for yourself! We hope you’ll come see us during our Open House on April 15th from 1pm-4pm. For more information or to schedule a visit, call 336-983-3131 or visit