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Camp Mechuwana – It’s a Small World After All! By Diane Hutchins

I have often written or spoken in church about my fond memories of Camp Mechuwana, UMC, and how life-changing it was for me personally and spiritually, but I know I’m not the only one. Mechuwana just turned 75 years old, so there are thousands of alumni representing all age groups.

*Trivia question: Who’s this? Do you recognize this freckle-faced teenager from our church family? She would have been about 14 years old in this picture. The quality of the photo and the fact that she is wearing a blazer at camp might give you a hint that it’s rather old.

When she went to camp in 1959, what we call the “Lodge” served as the main dining facility. It wasn’t until 1979 that a new year-round building was constructed and appropriately named the “Commons,” for the short version of Dining Commons, and it is the heart of Mechuwana. It is usually the first and last stop for most campers from check-in to one last meal before leaving.

A couple of months ago, Adrien Baracco came up to me after church and said, “I think there are a couple of people you should meet who are interested in raising money for Mechuwana.”

He then introduced me to Rev. John and Helen Neff. We talked about our shared connection to Mechuwana. John told me he had been a hiking camp counselor for several years, and Helen was the Treasurer for the UMC, which included Mechuwana.

I left church that Sunday wondering if John might have been there the same year I was.

The rest of the week, I could not shake a feeling that John looked really familiar. I found my old photo album that contained my treasured camp photos from 1981-1988, and I was so excited when I found this photo:

Top row: Rev. John Neff (fourth from left) and Diane Hutchins (last on right)

On the back of the photo, he wrote, “…hope our paths cross soon again,” and signed it, “John.” That’s when I knew it was him!

I guess it’s a small world after all.

It’s been 35 years since our Baxter Hike Camp together, and I can’t help but think our Omnipotent Father has a witty sense of humor when it comes to the use of the word “soon.”

Are you interested in learning more about Mechuwana? Please send me an email at or visit the camp website at

Trivia question answer: Patty Seavey Hutchins (my mother), Summer of 1959.


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