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Diane Hutchins’ Camp Mechuwana Experiences Come Full Circle

For the past 75 years United Methodist Church Camp Mechuwana, located in Winthrop, ME, has welcomed campers of all socio-economic and religious backgrounds for universal summer camp experiences, including swimming, sports, cabin camping, woodcraft, leather craft, canoeing, hiking, campfires sing-alongs, arts and crafts, theatre, music and more in a peaceful, natural setting.

Mechuwana is a 90-minute drive from Kennebunkport. Situated on more than 200 acres of forest land bordering Lower Narrows Pond and Lake Annabessacook in Winthrop, the camp consists of nature trails, a boat dock, swimming area, cabins, a theatre, chapel, dining commons, basketball court, and a sports field.

Church on the Cape parishioner Diane Hutchins attended Camp Mechuwana in the 1980’s from grades 4-12 and has fond memories of those years which she said shaped her life in profound ways.

“Camp Mechuwana provides a unique Christian setting for persons of all ages for personal growth and experiences, which will enhance one’s relationship to God, neighbors, and the natural world. Mechuwana is where I advanced my swimming skills and gained confidence. I took lifeguard training and ultimately ended up as a Scuba Diver in the Navy. Camp is also where I became a more independent person, and was accepted for who I am. Every time I go back to Mechuwana, I feel like I have a direct line to communicate with God. In modern terms, it’s like having spiritual high-speed internet instead of dial up,” she said.

The experiences Diane had each summer at Camp Mechuwana left her with much more than good memories, in fact, she credits Camp Mechuwana for strengthening her confidence, skills, faith, and fellowship that she carries with her to this day. Below is her personal story, in her own words.

“I looked forward to Camp Mechuwana every year. Growing up in Cape Porpoise was rather boring, but camp was exciting. Every day was a new adventure; swimming, boating, arts & crafts, hiking the trails around the lake, campfires, drinking bug juice and waking up in the morning to the call of a loon. At first, I was a little home sick, but my mom always sent lots of letters with colorful stickers all over the envelopes to cheer me up. It was also difficult for my mom the first year I went to camp (I found out later she cried the whole way home)! Back then, they did not have half-week camps like they do today. I went away for an entire week. All the “first timers” bonded rather quickly because we were all in the same boat, so to speak. I remember everyone was genuinely friendly, which is important when you are young and vulnerable.

I think kids of any generation have always had a difficult time finding their true self when there is continuous pressure to be someone else - better looking, smarter, more athletic…but the environment at Mechuwana is different. It’s a healthy environment.

The shared experience at summer camp with others that had similar fears, concerns and values helped me become more empathetic. Through years of attending swim camp, I mastered my skills as an advanced swimmer, which later helped me achieve my lifeguard certification. I had unique opportunities to sleep in a tent, a cabin by the lake and a lean-to at Mount Katahdin. While at camp, I saw my first loon, an owl, and a moose.

Looking back, I realize the profound impact Mechuwana had in life. Leaving home was initially difficult, but the experience each year helped me become more independent and confident, along with so many other life skills such as teamwork, respect for others, empathy, and kindness. All of which helped me throughout my life and career working for the government and traveling around the world.

There were times I faced extremely difficult challenges that tested my core beliefs and values. It was during those times I had to dig deep to find an inner strength to “do the right thing,” which I attribute to growing healthy roots and developing a strong moral compass early in my life - nurtured through the support of family, teachers, the Church on the Cape, and Camp Mechuwana.”

Today, Diane serves as the Church on the Cape Camp Mechuwana sponsorship coordinator, facilitating opportunities for children and families to attend Camp Mechuwana at no cost to them.

Church on the Cape offers a limited number of fully paid scholarships for interested students in grades 4-12.

Scholarships for family camp programs and special needs campers are also available. Applicants do not need to be church members or affiliated with any religious organization to apply, and there are no income requirements. Types of camps to choose from are:

  • Creative Arts,

  • Night Camp,

  • Adult Special Needs,

  • Music Theatre, Outpost,

  • Mom/Child/Family,

  • Uniquely Us,

  • Elementary- for children finishing Grades 3 – 5,

  • Middle School – for children finishing Grades 6-8,

  • Senior High -for campers finishing Grades 9-12.

For Mom/Child/Family camps, parents with their children ages 4-9 for a half-week of sharing quality time without the pressures of school, jobs, or home routines. Activities include swimming, boating, crafts, worship, music, games, and fellowship.  Uniquely Us camps are for whatever constitutes individual families offering a supportive camp community within a few days of fun, fellowship, and camp activities such as boating, swimming, arts and crafts, nature study, worship, and campfires. This is all about creating quality time together. All families are welcome. Camp schedules can be found at

Please join us on Sunday April 28 when Camp Director Norman Thombs will be guest speaker at Church on the Cape, 3 Langsford Rd., Cape Porpoise. 

Worship begins with a Hymn Sing at 9:45. After the 10 am service there will be Coffee Hour. FMI or to apply for a COTC Camp Mechuwana scholarship, please call 207-967-5787 or email


  Submitted by Shelley Fleming Wigglesworth


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