Lauren’s Letter | Club Enthusiasm

I just can’t believe that we are already wrapping up Week 6!  With a mix of beautiful sunny days, windy humid days, and a few storms, we’ve had just the right amount of weather variety to make our “typical days” at camp always new and exciting. 

Hoping you’re all reading the Daily Updates, which give you a sense of what we do each day at camp. Our programming is key to all we do here, so I want to share some insights about Clubs that I think will give you an even better understanding of your boys’ daily lives on the Shores and how they’re motivated to grow, learn, and achieve — while having the time of their lives.

During a typical day at camp, following breakfast and inspection (cabin cleanup), campers head out to Clubs, which is what we call our instructional periods. Each week campers sign up for two Clubs, which meet six days a week for a little over an hour each day with the overall goal of learning new skills. For those boys who are advanced in that Club, they’ll work on a particular aspect, such as honing their follow-throughs when shooting a jump shot or hitting the ball in front of your body when volleying in tennis. 

Our list of Clubs gets longer each year, as we’re always infusing our program with new activities — on both the land and the water as well as athletic and non-athletic. You name it, we probably do it — from sailing to soccer, outdoor adventure to yoga, biking to hockey, and Native American History to skiing. Our boys are motivated to learn, improve, and achieve. One of our core values is Enthusiasm — and I see it everyday during clubs. Parents, I’m not talking just about cheering wildly (though there’s plenty of that at Kawaga!), but there’s also a quieter version of Enthusiasm that includes being positive, energetic, and going all-out! 

One of the reasons why campers are so motivated to excel in Clubs is our point system with the goal and reward of making Mawanda and Sachem. Just ask any Alum about Kawaga, and you’re bound to hear stories about these honors. Campers can earn up to five points for each Club. Sachem requires 100 points during one summer and has many requirements and conditions as to how campers can earn points. Sachem gives your boys something to aim for all summer long. And, guess what? They stay focused all summer long! Sachem also encourages them to branch out to different areas in camp, which often surprises campers as they continue to find new activities that they love and want to spend time participating in during Open Areas (our unstructured free time). Sachem is challenging and not all campers succeed. That’s one of the lessons we teach: Try new things even if you don’t succeed; failure can be just as important to learning as success. And, not winning is a key component of Sportsmanship. So, when boys do achieve Sachem, it’s that much more meaningful. 

I’m particularly proud of and impressed by those campers who are so intensely focused that they go for Double Sachem. As its name suggests, Double Sachem requires campers to accumulate 200 points during the summer and announce their intention, so that we can monitor and guide their progress. This summer, we have 9 campers who are trying for Double Sachem; some will not make it, but all will learn from trying. These boys have chosen to really push themselves; I believe the lessons they’re gaining from their effort are reward enough. I’m not sure how many, of course, will make it, but I can tell you that it’s the journey as well as the destination that’s ultimately rewarding. 

Double Sachem includes additional requirements, such as fire proficiency, a written reflection about their efforts, and assisting counselors in Clubs. This also happens to be the week that these 9 campers are teaching clubs, alongside our counselors. It’s truly amazing to see how the younger campers look up to these olders boys and pick up on their Enthusiasm — as they lead hockey, basketball, Outdoor Adventure, volleyball, skiing, football, and sailing. I’m so impressed with what I’ve been seeing this week. These boys who are in “full camper” mode do a quick, almost seamless change into “counselor mode” for Clubs. They’re gaining valuable leadership skills along the way, which will bode them well in life (and for when they become Kawaga counselors). For now, they’re motivating their peers while instructing them on how to set the ball better in volleyball; how to keep the puck in front of them in hockey; how to properly get a canoe flipped over; how to shuffle their feet to play better “D” in basketball;  and so much more. As they teach these skills to campers, they’re learning how to plan an hour-long instruction period and having ready backup plans. I’ve seen campers’ faces light up when one of the “older kids” is in charge, while they also gain a new level of respect for these boys. 

Parents — Kawaga is about friendship and fun. But, it’s also about growing, learning about yourself, and pushing yourself to achieve your goals. We give campers and counselors the freedom to exceed expectations that we set, and we find that they continue to set the bar even higher. I’m so thrilled with what I’ve seen from all of our campers this summer and am excited to see what the next two weeks will bring. 

As always, thank you for entrusting your boys with us. 

Be Proud. Be Kawaga.