Reflections from the Shores | Callum Atkins’ Saturday Sermon

Dear Parents,

I’m happy to share last week’s sermon, which was given by one of our international staff, Callum Atkins, who’s spending his third summer at Kawaga.

Due to an injury (yes, Callum plays hard!) and trips, we’re a bit late in posting this. But, the message Callum shares is timeless.

As with Callum, we wish all our counselors “one more summer” at Kawaga before moving on and applying what they’ve learned here to their professional and personal lives outside of camp.

Timing is everything. Well, almost…

Be Kawaga,


Shabat Shalom,

Hi guys. For the very few of you who don’t know my name, I am Callum Atkins, and this is my third summer here at Kawaga, all the way from England.

I thought long and hard about a “topic” for a sermon that I’ve been hoping to have the opportunity to deliver. For me, I look around at camp and every day see so much that’s inspiring. I see counselors influencing the lives of campers in every area of camp. It could be shooting a bullseye at archery or achieving a miracle on the docks, both or which garner announcements in the Mess Hall along with beaming smiles, multiple high fives, or this summer, a “chant off” between an “Ali-Ali-Ali-Ali-Alastair” or the classic “Jacob White,” or the new “AJ Wright, fight, fight, fight.”

So, all of this got me thinking about what really inspires me. And every time what comes into my head are lines many of you also know and hold dear: “Rear him, I pray, not in the paths of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenges. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm…” Yes, only 32 words. But, they resonate for me so deeply — how I should challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. But even more so, this passage reminds me that when you do fail, you need to get right back up, wipe the dirt off your trousers, grit your teeth, and go again. The ultimate sense of accomplishment — the feeling that radiates through your body after succeeding at something seemingly impossible — is something that will only make you better as young men, as it has me.

A wise man here once told me: “There is wisdom in difficulties and failure that can’t be learned anywhere else.” I find these words poetic, as my own father instilled the same values in me that we learn here at Kawaga. The similarities of this excerpt with the Kawaga Ideal are almost astounding These words from a father to a son are ones you can always count on for guidance when you’re away from home and your parents. To me, these words conjure so many wonderful memories here at Kawaga of someone guiding me — a counselor guiding a camper; the lessons a counselor learns from a camper (which inspires me a 23-year-old man); and fellow campers standing up together in the storm as a group, guiding each other.

Now, I wish to share with you a personal story. The phrase “keep coming back” is used so often and for great reason here at Kawaga, as we all look forward to that next summer on the Shores.. and the next. So, let me tell you why I came back this summer, as it might inspire you to reflect on your time here.

This summer I graduated college. For the past three years, I’ve studied and worked hard in order to fulfill my dream of working for the English government in the intelligence sector.

I was offered that job after graduating, essentially achieving the goal I had set myself for more than three years now. But I also had my job here at Kawaga. I was issued an ultimatum back home to decide within three days — take the government job now or return to Kawaga for one more summer. I didn’t need the full three days to decide. It took me just about three minutes to make two calls: one successfully (!) delaying the job until after summer; and one to Ty, letting him know of my wish to return for one more summer before I begin my career. I knew that I decided to take the more unconventional path, but I was guided by words of wisdom that are embedded deep into by being. That’s why I’m able to stand in front of you today. Yes, one more summer!

Kawaga campers, there are many opportunities for you to test yourselves every day here. Competition against Menominee. Kawaga’s Blue/Gold Cup. And of course the challenging, yet ever-rewarding, goal of gaining Mawanda and Sachem. Better yourselves and through that process, you better each other. When you rise to overcome a difficult challenge here and throughout your life, remember where you learned these vital lessons. I know where I did.

Most of us know where the easy and comfortable road leads. Though the difficult and challenging road may seem uncertain, it just might lead you down the path of self-development, self-discovery, and self-betterment.

I thank Kawaga for teaching me that difficulties and challenges allowed me to truly “stand up in the storm.”

Thank you.