Camp is flying by, but the moments, memories, and lessons are piling up.
I recently spoke with a parent, whose son is here for four weeks. The camper is laser-focused on making Sachem, which is one of our two honorary tribes. And, achieving this goal in four weeks is extremely challenging. In fact, we tell campers that four weeks is likely not enough time. But, this boy is determined to go for it.
As his mother and I spoke about his decision, we agreed that whether he achieves his goal or not, he’s learning so much. We’re both impressed with his determination, understanding that if he falls short, he’ll still gain greatly. Sometimes — in spite of an all-out effort — we still fall short of our goals. And, sometimes those lessons are even more poignant.
We want our boys to have these experiences — to push themselves to learn and achieve, even if in the end, they don’t “win the prize.” Sometimes you just need to dig deeper. Of course, we’re all rooting for him. We’d love to celebrate his achievement with him. But, we’re even more impressed with his determination and effort.
The Kawaga Ideal so profoundly reminds us to be “proud and unbending in defeat, yet humble and gentle in victory.”
Last year, we had another boy — a second-generation camper — who tried but didn’t succeed in making Sachem. He was understandably disappointed. And, he knew how close he came. When a second-generation camper makes Sachem, he’s awarded a name that includes his father’s. So, making Sachem is even that much more meaningful. But, this boy came up just short. And, as much as we’d have loved for him to have made it, he needed to earn every point on his own. I’m happy to report that this same boy came back this summer, even more determined to make Sachem. And, he did it in four weeks! When his name was announced at camp, I could see the indelible pride in his eyes of having earned something that barely eluded him just one year ago. Determination won out.
Each generation of Kawaga campers brings different experiences and perspectives. We introduce new programs each summer, assuring that we’re offering an innovative, timely range of activities. So, what we do at camp changes from time to time. But, who we are doesn’t.
With that thought in mind, let me conclude this “Ty’s Take” by sharing with you a passage written by Kawaga’s founder, Doc E. I find this so relevant that I’ve included it in our staff manual and I read to our staff during training. I also read it at this summer’s Visitors Weekend gathering. And although this was written 100 years ago and some of the language clearly is rooted in that time, the ideas expressed are timeless and continue to guide us.
“Life in the open is necessary to make a youth sturdy, strong and self-reliant. The pampered city boy becomes a slave of luxury.
Reared in homes of comfort, he too often is allowed to shrink all responsibility of work – servants are at his beck and call – his desire to be of use is atrophied. But out in the open in camp life – with other boys his energies are forced into play. Not only are his muscles strengthened by hiking, canoeing, boating swimming and all other athletic sports, but his will power is strengthened by his enforced initiative.
During the period of a boy’s free time – the summer months – a boy should be associated with men who will direct his thoughts into proper channels. He should receive the training that will make it possible to meet the difficulties of life, accepting success with understanding and failures without loss of courage.”