Departing Thoughts from a Camper, Counselor, Ad Staff, and Office Staff Member

The Minikani Magic can’t accurately be shown on Facebook or Instagram or in a blog post. It may be glimpsed at in a wonderful video by Chole Proebsting or Oliver Weirdsma, but to truly understand what the hype is all about, you’ve got to be surrounded by dancing little and big kids on the Tennis Courts during Carnival. You have to receive your blue rag from the coolest counselor ever, then tie one yourself years later. You have to sleep on the quiet, cold ground in Pine Forest, then warm up from the hot sun and blasting music on the Craft Porch. You have to cry when one of your campers gets sent home, then cry again when one becomes a counselor. You have to recognize the generations of traditions, knowledge, and skills that have been passed down, and if you’re lucky, play your own part in the process.

I often describe my job responsibilities as telling the story of Minikani, but I never felt like I truly succeeded. I did my best to showcase the wonderful and crazy unit days and the magic in the air during the final closing campfire of the summer, but I never showed the other side of camp. Some of the times I felt the Minikani Magic the most was when things were difficult. I saw it when kids messed up and were mean to each other, or scared on the high ropes course, or homesick after being away for the first time. But then, these mystical counselors show up and somehow make it all better. They may not solve everything perfectly, but they bring the bullied kid aside and put an understanding hand on their shoulder and tell them that it’s going to be okay. Then, they bring the bully aside and put an understanding hand on their shoulder and tell them that it’s going to be okay. And those kids see that, despite the difficulty of growing up, despite the mistakes that they’ll inevitably make, there’s always going to be a super cool and understanding counselor in their corner rooting for them and helping them figure it out.

The magic continues when you become an LT and counselor, and go from receiving that unconditional love and support, to now giving it, which is equally important and impactful. After idolizing these larger-than-life counselors, suddenly you are one. After always being encouraged to be authentically yourself, suddenly you have the space and support to plan whatever you want to do. You are given the responsibility to guide a group of kids every week, and they look up to you like you’re some guru with all the answers. Their love and admiration might not be unconditional, and you’ll have days that don’t go as well as you’d hoped, but because of that, the good days are that much sweeter. You start to truly believe in yourself and understand that you can push your dreams and plans to be bigger and better.

The Minikani Experience isn’t something that you can really tell anyone about. You can’t fully explain how it felt as a camper to get a big hug from a counselor you had a little crush on, and to hear her say, “See you next summer!” It’s impossible to describe how honored you felt now as a counselor when you got a big hug from a camper and they ask, “Will I see you next summer?” After 14 years, I finally had to admit that they would not see me next summer, but even though I may not give or receive those hugs anymore, I know that my campers will, and then their campers will. Then, the cycle of love and support will continue until one day, new little Hushek’s will step into their first cabin and look up and see this larger-than-life counselor who will become their best friend.

Signing off but forever in the Spirit,
Alex Hushek

Creebie Jeebie/Crushek/The Weird Wild Wizard of the West/Alex from the Office/Director of Member Engagement

Alex Hushek


30 Apr, 2024

Counseling,  Getting Ready for Camp,  Minikani Magic


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