Lauren’s Letter | A Spectacular Coming Together

Dear Parents,

As you can imagine, after two weeks of staying within their cohorts and physically distancing from the other campers, the boys were getting a bit antsy, to say the least. They, like we, were anxiously awaiting the testing results, as we all had our eyes on the prize of coming together so that we could fully Be Kawaga this summer.

But, here’s what we learned. Those were two weeks with benefits. The boys became closer than imagined with everybody in their group — not just their peers, but also their counselors and even the nurse assigned to their cohort. We have a larger medical staff this summer, which allowed the boys to really get to know their cohort’s nurse. It’s funny, in summers past, only those boys who needed to go to Crows Nest for regular medication really got to know our nurses. Now, there’s this real bond — and, if a camper pulls a muscle or scrapes a knee in an activity, he wants to see his nurse.

So, these highly personal relationships have somewhat unexpectedly developed. Boys have learned each other’s quirks and can even read their cabinmates’ facial expressions. I heard a counselor talking to campers explaining, “Your cabin is your family. That’s who you go home to at the end of the day.” Yes, it’s great to spend time with so many other campers, but a boy’s cabin is a place to be safe, to totally relax, and be with the other members of his “family.”

You’ve all seen the sheer joy caught on video in the “coming together” moment, when Ty announced that we all tested negative and it’s time to “move on together.” And, together we have.

As you’ve been reading in our Daily Updates and on our social-media posts, this year’s Spectacular has lived up to its name. As they say, timing is everything, and this year’s big event came at the right time to bring us together to compete, to have fun, and — as always — to learn about and demonstrate Sportsmanship, Enthusiasm, Spirit, and Fellowship.

The two adjectives that I’d use to describe how campers were feeling during the Spectacular: “intense” and “joyful.” They were so happy to be competing and going hard. As you know, we won’t be having inter-camp competitions this summer. So, the Spectacular gave the boys the opportunity to compete at a higher level.

Here’s how campers learn what team they’re on (which of course has been pre-decided): The team captains walk around the Omni holding up the team shirts, with an encouraging, “Who wants this shirt?!” I knew how much it would mean to a particular younger brother to be on his older brother’s team, especially after the 14 days of being physically distanced. The younger brother yelled back, “I want that shirt!” And, sure enough, as it worked out, he was proudly handed it, signaling that he’s on his dream team with his older brother. It was the sweetest moment of pure joy.

At the end of every game, win or lose, both teams give each other a loud and enthusiastic cheer. The boys all want to win, and they compete so hard. But in the end, they are hugging, shaking hands, and high-fiving all the coaches. Once the game is over, it’s over. Everybody is once again best friends.

The single event that was probably both the most intense and joyful was the tug of war. The momentum alternated between teams, with campers putting their hearts and bodies into the team effort. Talk about grit and determination!

What a Spectacular we had! On the flip side, now that it has ended (and a good time was had by all!), I can sense the boys are looking forward to a return to Kawaga normalcy — the comfortable, familiar daily structure of Clubs, Open Areas, and Leagues.

Sometimes you just can’t capture in words the emotion of what we’ve been through here. The coming together was spectacular, as has been our return to daily Kawaga living. We all just wish it could on and on. So, as always, we’re living each day — each moment — to the fullest and appreciating all those special moments that make up our day.

Be Happy. Be Together. Be Kawaga.