Hansel Francisco

Thanks to a partnership with the John Austin Cheley Foundation, we were able to send two students to Camp Kawanhee, an all-boys wilderness camp in Maine for two weeks. Hansel Francisco, a 5th grader at Match Next, was one of the students.

Only two states away from Massachusetts, Hansel discovered a new world in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Every day was jam-packed with exciting adventures.

In the mornings, the students would rise early for polar bear swims and hot chocolate. The singing of the Kawanhee theme song kicked off a day jam-packed with traditional games such as Capture the Flag and Kawanhee-originals like Hansel’s favorite, Gagaball.

After a boisterous lunch where the campers scream for the cook until she appears and then break out in cheers, Hansel and his friends learned how to build fires and whittle wood into paddles. “You have to be careful with the knives,” Hansel warns, “It’s hard to [whittle] fast like [the counselors] do because they’re strong.” Hansel looks forward to next summer when he’ll have more time to develop his newfound skills.

The highlight of two weeks for Hansel was the opportunity to hike Mount Blueberry. Before setting off on the hike, Hansel was told that Mount Blueberry was the shortest mountain in the area, but when he reached the top, he wasn’t convinced. “It wasn’t that short. I saw clouds and everything.”

Every night was game night with the option to read in the library if one so desired. If the boys weren’t too tired before lights out, they would make sure to have a pillow fight before bed. “The goal is to get away from technology and I didn’t like that at first, but you get used to it. I don’t have a backyard, so it was fun.”

Hansel was awarded a campership for the next four summers at Camp Kawanhee. This past summer, he attended the first-time camper 2-week session and he is excited to stay for the longer session next summer and be with his new friends once again.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Hansel.