Each week as part of our long standing traditional Saturday Service, one of our great Kawaga staffers prepares and reads a “sermon” reflecting on their time at camp, and why they have returned to camp each summer. It is the most anticipated portion of each service, and one of my favorite parts of camp. To hear what camp means to a 17 or 27 year old who has invested into camp as a counselor has a profound effect on our campers. It helps them understand how much fun it is to be on staff, and why it is so important to return.
Here is yesterday’s sermon. I will also have my Director’s Blog posted later this evening… Enjoy your last Sunday without your son!!
My name is J Barron and this is my 11th summer at Camp Kawaga and my second on staff. As many people may know, after my JC summer in 2011, I decided not to return to camp. During the 2012 and 2013 camping seasons, I spent my time back home interning and pursuing a wide variety of different interests. Unfortunately, my summer days consisted of sitting behind a desk, making endless amounts of copies of documents I did not understand, and my personal favorite, cleaning the office kitchen. However, each day that went by, there wasn’t a time where Kawaga didn’t cross my mind. During those summers, I made it a mission to keep in touch with my fellow 2010 CITs so I knew exactly what was going on at all times. As much as I wanted to come back to the shores for another summer, I figured that all of the time I had lost would make it too difficult to return and for a moment, I thought that camp was merely a distant memory that I would be unable to relive. I knew that if I ever wanted to have the opportunity to come back, this year was the time to make that happen.
Rewind now to December of this year. Matt Abrams came up to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a visit and without hesitation; I took him up on his offer to take me out to lunch. For an entire hour, Matt and I did not nothing but talk camp. As we discussed the 100th year anniversary and all of the plans he had, I couldn’t help but smile and think, how could I not come back? Two months later, my contract was signed and I was officially ready to return for the 2014 camping season. Yes, it was that simple! I was overwhelmed with excitement and couldn’t wait for yet another summer at the place I call home.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous to return after missing two summers. I knew there would be so many new faces and I thought it would take some time to adjust and get back into the groove of camp. I could not have been more wrong. As soon as the campers arrived on the buses and camp got underway, it seemed like I hadn’t missed a beat and camp was carrying on as if I had never left. What’s most evident to me and is something that continues to amaze me each summer, is that the braves who return to Kawaga do so not just because of their love for camping, the Indian traditions and rituals, the competitions, or the Blue/Gold Cup. What keeps campers coming back is the campers, the braves of tomorrow. I will forever be thankful to you guys for welcoming me back with open arms and not letting me forget how amazing it is to be a part of the mighty Kawaga nation.
As the final week of camp approaches, I would like to offer you guys with some advice. While it may sound cliché and is something you may have heard a million times, take advantage of every day that you have here and everything camp has to offer because before you know it, you’ll be finding yourself back at school, having to worry about everyday stresses, and wishing the cold, ten-month offseason would end. Or you’ll be like me, sitting behind a desk wondering what was holding you back from returning for another summer. Camp Kawaga has helped mold me into the man I am today. Continue to strive for new goals and challenge yourself, master the Kawaga Ideal and understand its significance not only in camping but also in life, and embrace the five pillars that are leadership, sportsmanship, spirit, enthusiasm, and fellowship.
Looking back on the past 7 weeks, I can’t even fathom how much I have been fortunate enough to take part in at camp. I have been a head coach of the Senior Ball team, coached the Texas Tech Raiders in the Spectacular, be a counselor for an amazing group of kids (shout out to cabin 25), watched Menominee crumble as we continued to follow our five pillars and wear the white hats, have the opportunity to go on the CIT sailing trip, spend my days helping campers get up on two skis for the first time at Miracle Dock, cheer my butt off in the Mess Hall, and take part in the Indian traditions that I grew up loving as an 8 year old camper in Chip 1. When I see this, I can only think to myself, man, this is so much better than any internship or job you will have for the rest of your life!