By Jen de Ridder, Summer Camp Director at YMCA Camp Hanes

We are often asked, “What makes YMCA Camp Hanes special?” There are definitely a lot of things, but we believe it comes from the friendships that are made. We have great food, air-conditioned cabins, water slides, zip lines, a state-of-the-art barn, and many more activities that campers love. What we hear from campers time and again is that they love those parts of camp, but it’s the relationships and feeling of belonging that means the most to them.

At camp we are about developing the ABC’s in our campers. Campers live and play within our “400-Acre Memory Maker” and excellent facilities where they learn the ABC’s of camping: growing as a leader through Accomplishment, building that sense of Belonging, and developing Character Traits of honesty, respect, responsibility, caring and faith using Jesus Christ as our hero and role model.

We work to intentionally create an atmosphere for campers to make friends. Our staff go through week-long training, which includes information about: the stages of friendship based upon age, social skills development, dealing with bullying, getting to know people games, and conflict resolution. Learning to help create an atmosphere for friendship creates the best experience for our campers.

I recently heard a story from a former staff member about meeting her best friend at camp. She was the loud, crazy kid in the cabin. Her soon-to-be friend was the quiet, introspective kid. They were given the opportunity to interact while moving into the cabin and they clicked. The staff set them up for success. They have been friends now for more than 10 years; both have been counselors and have now provided the same opportunity to other campers.

The sense of belonging a camper receives while visiting YMCA Camp Hanes accomplishes our mission of, “Helping people reach the God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.” We ask campers be their best self and to be a friend. It creates a special feeling while they learn their ABC’s.

YMCA Camp Hanes offers program opportunities for campers ages 6-15. We have both Day Camp and Resident Camp options. Our dates and rates are available at our website Sometimes it is best to see camp in person. We have Open House dates on April 14th and May 12th from 1pm-3pm. Please let us know how we can help your child be their best self this summer. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch at 336-983-3131 or

*Sponsored by Camp Hanes