We may have mentioned how we had an awesome Father Son Weekend that lead into our start of camp. It was a record breaking weekend, with the most Fathers and sons ever attending. Great time was had by all – Dewey and I heard nothing but amazing compliments regarding our staff and the physical look of camp. All of the positive feedback and good feelings are appreciated.
While we have now turned our attention to the summer of 2015 and our Full Session campers and Rookie Campers, I received an email from one of our alumni fathers who is sending a new camper to Kawaga this summer that Dewey and I felt compelled to share. His thoughts and feelings regarding the weekend, his time at camp both as a returning alum and new camper parent are spot on and probably hit home with many of you. Whether you attended Kawaga (or another camp) in the past, we hope Kawaga will feel this way for all of your sons in the years to come. Please take the time to read and enjoy this entry of our blog…
Camper to Counselor to Parent at Kawaga
What is it about Kawaga that makes it such a special place?
This was the question asked Sunday night (during the Pow Wow) at the end of Father/Son weekend.
Many people (including myself) gave an answer, but it is a question that I think is difficult to simply answer. Kawaga is special because it provides different opportunities for each individual to experience.
One thing that we can all agree (this has not changed in a 101 years): There is definitely something special about the Air in the Northern Woods of Wisconsin……..
Personally, It has been almost 30 years since I have spent any real time back at Kawaga. I returned to Kawaga as a married 48 year old with my 8 year old son. What a special treat but I did not understand how special it would be until I was able to experience the events this weekend. Prior to the weekend, I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at camp.
My eight year old son Harry decided that he wanted to go to away camp for the first time. Out of the blue, Harry asked me if he could go to my old camp in Wisconsin called Kawaga. I was surprised and intrigued. I said yes as long as we could go to the Father/Son weekend prior to the start of camp.
Harry and I left Michigan this past Friday morning and took a flight to the Central Wisconsin airport. We drove from Wausau to Minoqua. It was a great drive and fun to be alone with Harry. We arrived at camp around 3:30 pm and checked into our cabin (#21). The same cabin I lived in for 8 weeks in 1979. Harry saw my name all over the cabin walls and on the 1979 cabin plaque. Harry loved seeing my name and asked several questions.
After unpacking, I walked around camp and admired the upgrades but more importantly, I was reminded of the people I have met, and the special times and lessons that I learned at Kawaga.
During the weekend, I was able to watch and play various activities with my son. It was so special for me to reconnect with my past but yet be present with my son to help him start his Kawaga journey. The re-connection I felt during my visit made me realize why Kawaga was such a special place for me.
First, it was awesome for me to reconnect with a few people that I have not seen in 25-30 years or did not realize went to Kawaga They all attended the weekend with their own kids or nephews. It was fun to learn how we all have kids around the same age, and that we each had that pull back to Kawaga after all these years. I hope that we have many more opportunities to see each other in the future.
Second, Harry and I shared our cabin with my old camper and friend and former Director Taz and his two boys. It took Harry and Taz’s boys (Alex and Bennett (mini Taz) about two minutes to become great friends. They did a bunch of open area activities together and talked relentlessly when we were all in our cabin together.
Third, watching how camp is being run brought back wonderful memories. The team assembled at Kawaga seems to be as good as any staff I have ever seen. They helped make Father Son Weekend very special. It was an honor to be able to get to know the 2015 Kawaga staff. What a great group of young men. They are friendly, enthusiastic, helpful, caring, and kind. Spend any time at Kawaga this summer and you too will quickly realize how much they all love the traditions, and treat working at Kawaga as a privilege instead of just a job. The comments by the parents that have never been to Kawaga at the Pow Wow were genuine and honest. The staff did an outstanding job and made everyone very comfortable.
Beyond the staff and running of camp, t was great to be able to visit several of the sites around camp with Harry……
Miracle Dock; Sunset Dock; Council Ring; Kawaga Ideal; The Waterfront; Diamond One; Omni and the new (to me) Tramp-Ball area (Harry’s real true love); Mess Hall; Diamond 2; WHARF; Cabins; Crow’s Nest; Big House/New hockey and hoops courts (Braves Arena)
Walking around the camp, it was great to see that things have changed to some degree, and definitely been upgraded too, but still, after all my time away, a lot of things remained the same.
Finally, the biggest highlight of the Weekend was being able to watch my son swim the bay. I swam the bay during my first summer in 1977. Thirty eight years later, I got to watch my son do it!!!!! It was AWESOME!!!!! I do not know if I was more excited or he was at the time. The smile on his face was priceless. I had tears in my eyes when he received his paddle at lunch that afternoon. A moment in time that I will never forget.
To Camp Kawaga and its Staff – Thank you for allowing me to once again experience the traditions and magic of Kawaga…..
Thank you for allowing me to spend an incredible weekend with my son at camp…..
Thank you for allowing me to basically be a kid again for 72 hours as well as a very proud father!
I hope Harry enjoys and develops a passion for camp like I did. I hope that he will find his way and take advantage of the most wonderful place in the world! To everyone, enjoy your summer, and I look forward to my next opportunity to visit Kawaga (I do not plan to wait another 25-30 years to come back).
Billy N. (B-NAY)