Lauren’s Letter | “Older & Young Campers: A Special Relationship”

Dear Parents,

Yesterday, as I was taking a stroll around camp, I saw something that got me to stop, watch, and smile. I observed a CIT opt to spend his Open Area (the unstructured time during the day where guys can participate in their favorite activities with some of their closest friends) working with a younger camper on his hockey skills. He shot goals at him and discussed technique, while encouraging and instructing him.

The younger boys learn so much from with the older boys, who in turn gain greatly by guiding those who are just beginning their Kawaga experiences. The truly special thing: they become friends — oftentimes lifelong friends — as evidenced by many alumni who have remained close to their former campers and counselors.

Yes, CIT does stand for “Counselor in Training,” but these oldest boys are still campers, enjoying their last summer of all-out fun without any paid responsibilities. But that doesn’t stop them from stepping up, helping out, and literally reveling in their in-between status.

Kawaga affords our older campers opportunities where they can play a role in helping these younger boys come into their own here, instilling Kawaga values and fun at the same time. The younger boys, as you can imagine, are so thrilled to have such amazing quality time with the older guys.

During Rest Hour (every day after lunch), and before bed, the CITs go into “their” cabins (each CIT was assigned a cabin at the beginning of the session), where they spend time with the campers, tell them stories, and teach them about Kawaga, including camp songs and cheers. Last week, the CITs helped with clubs (our instructional periods), working alongside counselors, in teaching and honing skills in everything from skiing and sailing to basketball and baseball to archery and arts & crafts. CITs get to apply what they’ve learned at Kawaga.

Campers really listen to, respect, and learn from their counselors. But, to them, CITs are like big brothers or older cousins. They recognize that CITs are still campers. So, the younger boys soak up what the CITs say, heeding the advice of their older peers and role models.

But, there’s one thing you might not want your boys to mimic. All of the CITs cut their hair a couple of days ago, which is a bit of a (goofy, if you ask me!) tradition at camp. We’re talking buzzing, Mohawks, sidelines — not nice trims. Yes, every CIT buzzing their hair does show solidarity. And, at Kawaga, tradition and solidarity go a long way. Moms — I warned you about this at Parents Weekend, and you’re probably seeing your sons’ new ‘dos on Facebook and Instagram. But, as you can guess, the younger boys think they look beyond cool! Only at camp, and yes their hair does grow back.

That’s it for this week’s Lauren’s Letter.

Be Kawaga,