Lauren’s Letter | A Kawaga Mindset

Dear Parents,

Being together – as a full camp – is nothing short of exhilarating. For most of us, it’s been 10 months since we’ve been on the Shores together. And those were 10 challenging months for many, filled with remote learning, hybrid learning, canceled activities and sports. These are words that simply are not in our vocabulary up here. Instead, what I’m seeing most is boys growing.

Growth is a Kawaga mindset. It’s so incredible seeing leaders emerging from each age group. For me, a great place and time to reflect on this growth is during our “small powwows,” which take place every-other Sunday evening. I love these intimate gatherings because you hear what the boys are really feeling and sharing. I spend time with each age group during powwows to gain a different perspective of camp and how we’re all doing.

The oldest group, the Oneidas, really understand their role as leaders at camp. During the powwow, the group is physically facing into camp and into their leadership role. The CITs are awesome and really stepping up. They realize that in order to be noticed as emerging leaders, they need to take initiative, try new things, and never sit on the sidelines. This summer we have 28 CITs – so our younger guys get plenty of opportunities to know and spend time with our oldest boys. They’ve created so much energy here! In our recent “Hunger Games” Evening Program, which is all about teamwork, the CITs made sure everybody – especially the youngest campers – were involved. One even grabbed Shay and Vaughn (our two oldest kids) to join in. So wonderful and impressive! With the CITs currently on their Boundary Waters trip, the other Oneidas (the Group 1s and Group 2s) get a chance to shine as leaders. Meals have been just as energetic (and loud).

The Mohawks, our second-oldest group, find themselves in a new position, too. They now see that half the campers are younger than they are, with the Sioux and Chip cabins “down the road” and looking up to the Mohawks. So, even though they’re not yet Oneidas, our Mohawks are on the precipice of leadership and taking their role to heart. With both the Mohawks As and Mohawks Bs getting to spend a night outside of camp on a camping trip, we’ve seen quick growth from “surviving” the elements on Baker Lake (an adjoining lake to Lake Kawaguesaga).

The Sioux, who are the only tribe with only a single grade level, are bonding and becoming a solid unit. We’re seeing them gain skills in Clubs and show the camp that they can have fun and be total goofballs while working hard at accomplishing their goals!

Our Chips and new campers have quickly found their way through camp, building friendships and trying new things. I’ve seen campers grow as soon as they can get across the bay (our swim test) and can see a notable difference on their faces when they ring the bell to announce to the camp that they made it across. They are becoming pros at knowing where and when they need to go places (and how to get there). As we cheer on campers when they accomplish something for the first time (like skiing around the bay, catching their first fish, getting their first archery bullseye), they’re getting an opportunity to celebrate their victories and gain momentum to keep trying new things.

Being in pods for only two days this summer, rather than last year’s two weeks, was a welcome change. It allowed our Big and Little Brothers (where we pair our oldest campers with our new campers) to come together sooner – including some swimming the bay together, exploring camp, and celebrating at our Big and Little Brother pizza party.

Parents, please know that we’re watching out for each of your boys. We’re here to encourage them, help them grow, lift their spirits, and give a big hug whenever needed. We’re here for you, too! Just text, email, or call.

Be Happy. Be Proud. Be Kawaga.