There is something so special about the first drive to the North Woods each camping season. You start to notice the trees changing as you head north and before you know it, you are surrounded by the big pines of Wisconsin’s north woods. The air is fresh and the sight of your first bald eagle lets you know you’ve made it. You pull into camp with a feeling of excitement, appreciation, and familiarity. After 10 months away, you are back at your home away from home!
Precamp is always such a special time. We have a week (or two weeks for some) devoted to getting our counselors ready for the amazing summer that lies ahead. It really is a transformative time, especially seeing our JCs (1st year counselors) change roles. They start the week wide-eyed, ready to learn, not sure what to expect as they transition from camper to counselor. They quickly shift their mindset from enjoying all that Kawaga had to offer them as campers to being the best role model, leader, educator, and caregiver for your boys. Training for these roles isn’t easy. We challenge them mentally – with sessions about safety, goals, mindfulness practices, being present for campers, homesickness, emergency protocols, unpacking, and much more.The boys take things very seriously and the returning counselors help us in facilitating fantastic conversations about the many complex roles staff take on throughout the summer. We challenge them physically – they help beautify camp through, mowing, weeding, painting, cleaning, organizing, mixed in with some fun games to facilitate staff bonding! They need to be ready to ref a game, and teach skills to our campers during clubs. Every minute of the week is thought out so they can be as prepared as possible for the arrival of your boys.
The incredible staff really gave it all and ended the week united, committed, and ready for our campers to step foot on the shores. The perfect way to put these skills into motion was to kick off the 2023 season with our Father/Son weekend! I’m blown away with the momentum the weekend has gotten. I love seeing returning faces and am so pleased with how many new families joined this year.
The weekend gives you a quick snapshot of what camp is all about – the strong sense of connection, new friendships growing, making connections with families from around the country, and getting to learn about Kawaga traditions that have been a part of our history for 109 years.
Now, it’s time to get ready for the arrival of our first session campers! This is going to be a magical summer and I, as always, am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have your boys with us this summer.