I will never forget any part of the summer of 2017 at Kawaga. It was the best summer of my life so far. Every moment I understood more of what it means to be a Kawaga brave. I learned and reinforced to my campers to be fast to forgive and slow to condemn. Not to sweat the small stuff. To be proud, unbending, humble, and gentle. Always.
One of my most memorable experiences was a story that Raging Falcon, Ty Simpson, told at the second big powwow. This was the message: The best time is always now. The most important people are always those by your side. The most important thing to do is good to those by your side. I found that if I follow this everything else falls into place. If you have no problems with those by your side, then you have no problems. And if you do, you can quickly fix them with this wisdom.
As a staff person at Kawaga, you do more good in one day than anywhere else. Here’s a sample day for just one staff person. Wake up to a positive PA announcement. Cheer at breakfast. Help a cabin full of campers work together on cleanliness. Help campers achieve there skiing goals. Teach campers how to play 4 different instruments. Guide a yoga and meditation class. Cheer at lunch. Help campers learn the ideal. Ref or coach a leagues game. Help a camper achieve a free throw contract. Cheer at dinner. Run an evening program. Reflect on the day and summer goals with campers before bed.
The reason Kawaga braves keep coming back is to help young leaders grow into mentors. As Ty always says, the lifeblood of kawaga is the staff. It wouldn’t be possible without Ty’s leadership. His calm, confident and positive demeanor spread through the staff quickly and everyone noticed it. The future of this camp is very bright and promising. Thank you for being you Kawaga.
With Blue Gold over, campers were able to enjoy the whole of camp. During morning leagues campers played in final championship games, deciding who wins the plaques. Then in the afternoon it was double block of Open Areas, with an appreciation station at the Mohawk powwow site giving campers a chance to really take in the beauty that is Camp Kawaga. Throughout the day campers were using their Kawaga cash to gain them various treats ranging from a late sleep through to a pizza party to Alexander’s. After dinner it was time for the final Big Powwow of the summer, with numerous campers gaining both Mawanda and Sachem feathers, along with first time Sachem entrants gaining their Sachem names. The Powwow gave the campers an opportunity to reflect upon their summer, their goals achieved, and what they learned during their summer 8/9/2017they want to continue with back home.
What a day. With it being the final day of the Blue Gold Cup, and the scores from last night showing only a 5 point difference, Campers were hyped for another day of competition. The end of the Blue Gold also means it’s time for the Super Duper Relay Race, one of the most anticipated and biggest events of the summer, where every campers is involved in an activity to make it from one side of camp to another, activities included; wheelbarrow racing, leap frogging, ball catch and some more obscure tasks such as; fire building and wood sawing. After the Blue team won the relay, it was time for all campers to sit at the side of the Omni and find out the final scores for the 2017 Blue Gold Cup, and after a super tight couple of days, The Gold Team took the win! After dinner, Campers headed up to the Rec hall, for the leaving staff show where all the counselors performed various songs and skits, both showing off their skills and talking about the summer. After the show, though campers thought they were about to go to bed, instead they were all told to line up along the edge of D1, for tonight was potentially the final Tapping Ceremony of the summer, Where numerous campers made Mawanda, Sachem, and two campers achieved Double Sachem, a real honor to have achieved. Campers then headed to bed after a long day, looking forwards to enjoying their final few days on the shores.
The energy this session has been abundant, with vibrant personalities, and lifelong bonds. With one week left and the blue gold competition underway I know it’s going to move too quickly. I find myself realizing that I’m experiencing a couple of lasts for my first summer up at camp. My last Saturday service, my last outdoor meal, my last small power, my last Sunday sleep in! What started only seven weeks ago has already become such a large part of my and my family’s life. I am beyond fortunate to be experiencing the summer with them and all of your sons.
It’s hard to imagine that there is a world outside of Kawaga bubble and that we will soon have to begin the countdown of months/weeks/days until we get to return to the shores. I plan to embrace all of these last times for my first summer in the North Woods. Watch every sunrise (my kids wake up very early!), every sunset, cheer on both teams, and share moments with the campers that will forever be part of who I am!!
Reveille played as the sun came up on the final Saturday of camp. This meant a huge breakfast, and double leagues, which included some of the final games in the championships. After leagues the campers were in for a surprise, because on return to the cabin each camper found a Feather on their pillow, the color signalling which team they will be on in The Blue Gold Cup. Campers then met up with their team members and elected both a captain, and tribal captains before finding out which games will be played tonight. After dinner, the Mohawks set off onto their treasure hunt, the Chips and Sioux’s took part in capture the flag, and the Oneidas plays one round of Basketball, and one of Flickerhoops. Then most of the campers headed to bed, with the Mohawks finishing up their hunt, all campers excited for tomorrow and the big day of competition ahead.
A solid morning of clubs was rudely interrupted by an awful weather front coming in, and bringing a weeks worth of rain with it. This was not good news for our Ski team who were competing in Kawaga’s 44th Ski competition. Where Braves competed in; Slalom, Wakeboarding and, despite the weather doing its best to interfere, finished first place in Barefooting. Open A’s were rainy day activities, then after lunch campers had a great afternoon ahead of them. Chips headed out to Northwoods Wilderness Centre, Sioux’s had a very wet afternoon at The Waters Minocqua’s indoor water park. Mohawk A’s had a crazy afternoon playing a classic Kawaga game of Voccer out on D2, while the Group 1’s and CIT’s took their day to new heights at the Northwoods Zip Line. The Group 2’s arrived back from their two night camping trip after lunch, so spent their afternoon relaxing with a movie. After dinner, tribes split up for a rainy day EP, including a cards tournament, more Voccer and a huge game of Bingo. So despite the rain’s best attempt, the Kawaga Braves went to bed tired after another great day at Camp.
Camp Kawaga is a place unlike anywhere I have ever been. It is truly a community and somewhere, which I am so glad to have found myself this year. I am from Australia where summer camp just doesn’t exist. Many people from home have come across to America and Canada during our winter months to experience the camp life. As much as I was told about Camp, nothing could have prepared me for what it is like here.
Back home I have completed university and I am a pharmacist, so I do feel that I have a little bit of world experience under my belt. Even so, I have been challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone in many ways here, especially being a girl at an all boys’ camp. I have gained confidence through leading clubs and coaching leagues teams and feel that the girls here have all been integrated really well. I have also never worked with this many children, but I am loving it. Having homesick kids around is challenging but having learned how to deal with them, I feel much more confident in these situations.
I am blown away, firstly, by the fact that kids as young as six are prepared to spend between two and eight weeks away from their family. That is something that I did not do until the age of sixteen. I can see how beneficial this time away is for a child’s development and independence, especially when it comes to these children moving away from their families when it comes time for college. I can only imagine how much more prepared I would have felt after finishing high school if I had a regular period of time away from my family growing up. At the age of twenty-three, I am likely moving across the country next year. It’s an idea that terrifies me but I am finally ready to move away from my childhood home, something that I believe most of these kids will be prepared to do at a much younger age because of their time at Camp.
Secondly, seeing the CITs from 2016, that have been attending Kawaga for years come back as Junior Counselors has really impressed me, especially considering they are yet to finish high school. The maturity and leadership skills that Kawaga gives campers allows them to transition into counselors seamlessly. This will put them in great stead for college and for future job prospects. It’s something that I would have loved to have done at their age.
Finally, I really love seeing and hearing about the true friendships that come out of Camp with kids from all across the country. I have been told that school friends are good friends but Camp friends are family. I feel very lucky to be a counselor at Camp Kawaga and will always value what it has taught me and the amazing friendships I have made.
– Emma Mactaggart
It was a typical day at Camp Kawaga, probably the last of the summer. Clubs this morning then led into open areas, and then lunch. During rest hour there was a huge game of International vs American Staff Soccer, which ended in a huge win to the favorites. At lunch, the Mohawk A’s returned from their exciting treasure hunt (Mohawk Madness), that led them all the way out to a theme park in Minneapolis. After rest hour it was back out for the first round of the playoffs in leagues, competition was fierce with no team wanting to drop after the first round. Leagues led into open A’s, dinner and then tonight’s EP which was organized and ran by the CIT’s. The EP Wheel of Fortune, was an instant hit with the campers and will definitely be returning next summer.
Monday signs the first day of the final week of clubs, with ski club being extra focused on the upcoming Ski Competition this week. This then led to Open A’s then on to lunch, in which the CIT’s modeled an interesting variety of clothing, purchased from a local charity store for their Runway fashion show. The Group 2’s then headed off for their trip, and the Mohawks are still out at Mohawk Madness. After lunch and a welcomed rest hour it was back out, for the first round in the Leagues Playoffs, so competitive spirits ran high. Then after an outdoor meal, which was almost rained off, it was onto tonight’s EP. Mohawks B’s took the boats to town to the local ball park for billy ball and grill out, Chips and Sioux’s had 4 on4 Final Four, and the Group 1’s had an intense tournament of pickleball.
Pick em’ up, put em’ down, and move em’ out, it’s another beautiful day at Camp Kawaga, a super long late sleep was welcomed by all after last night Midnight Movie. The campers then signed up for the final week of clubs, including a much anticipated, Mystery Club for the CIT’s! There was then a short period of Open A’s before a delicious lunch. After, Seniors went to Camp Timberlane and Juniors from Timberlane came over for a competition, where campers competed in; Soccer, Tennis, Softball and Basketball. The competition was fierce, but the Braves fought hard to a great success winning the overall competition. A delicious dinner then led into tonight’s EP, Counselor Hunt. In which, counselors had to hide around camp dressed as characters from the Mario Brothers each being worth a different amount of Kawaga Cash, with the goal being to find as many counselors as possible.