The gift of Camp: A place of healing and acceptance

Michelle Hanafee’s workplace is not the typical office space filled with fluorescent lights and cubicles. As an international flight attendant, Hanafee spends workdays in the sky and places near and far. But for Hanafee, Camp is an irreplaceable refuge.

Michael Hanafee (14) plays soccer during Family Week 5 in 2022.

“With my work, I’ve been all over the world and I’ve just never experienced a place quite like Camp Arcadia,” Hanafee said. “I’ve seen, experienced and felt so many beautiful cultures and places and people. But Camp Arcadia is in my top 5 favorite places in the world.”

From Chicago, Illinois, the Hanafee family started coming to Camp in 2019 per a family friend’s recommendation. Nearly 5 years later, Camp has become a safe space for the family of four.

“Camp Arcadia is a place where there’s a lot of healing for our family,” Michelle Hanafee said. “We live in the city and it can be a little crazy. It’s such a gift for us to go to Camp and reboot in a no-judgment zone.” 

Hanafee said that even as a practicing Catholic with two adopted children, she feels completely welcomed by Camp.

“I’m so touched by the community,” Hanafee said. “All four of us feel complete acceptance and then we get to take that back to the city and back into our individual lives.”

George Hanafee (16) takes on the Challenge Course during the Omega Teen Retreat in 2022.

That acceptance allows Hanafee to feel comfortable at Camp, she said. As an introvert, it can sometimes be hard to initiate conversations with other people, but at Camp, that melts away, Hanafee said. 

“At Camp, I truly feel like I’m able to walk around and it’s so easy to connect with other people,” Hanafee said. 

The staff at Camp has been an essential piece of fostering a comfortable space for her family, especially for her sons, Hanafee said. 

“The staff is human but they’re angelic to me,” Hanafee said. “They’re so darn positive.”

Last summer, in addition to staying onsite during Family Week 1, the Hanafees were able to commute to Camp from offsite locations for a few more weeks in the summer. Between the four of them, there is always something for every person in the family, Hanafee said. Her youngest son Michael can often be found on the basketball court throughout the week.

“Our younger son Michael asked if we could stay for 6 weeks, so we compromised with 3,” Hanafee said. “We’re just grateful for whatever we get. Camp is such a gift.”

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