I couldn’t be prouder or more inspired to share with you Jonathan Levitan’s Saturday-morning “Sermon.” It sums up how so many of us feel who’ve grown up at Kawaga, have been inspired and learned greatly from the summers on the Shores, and want to now share that experience — and a little wisdom — with our campers.
I watched the boys so closely listening to Jonathan and saw how much he connected. I hope Jonathan’s words touch you as much as they did all of us.
For those of you campers who don’t know me yet, my name is Jonathan Levitan. This is my 10th summer on the Shores and my first on staff.
This time last year, I was still in your shoes. I was sitting on this stage in my white Kawaga tee, taking in each sermon before running out to my leagues game. It seldom crossed my mind that I would one day be up here, talking to all of you on another beautiful Saturday morning at Camp Kawaga.
For me, standing in front of each of you today is the latest reminder of how quickly time moves here at camp. As we all know, the summer flies by way too fast. There’s something about the thrill of camp life that makes each day disappear in the blink of an eye. Perhaps Ferris Bueller said it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
This idea of “looking around once in a while” is exactly what I want to talk to all of you about today. It means to live in the moment, to appreciate something in its entirety, to slow down for just a second and make a memory. It’s putting the past behind us, ignoring what the future holds, and having the peace of mind to be present for just long enough to acknowledge the world around us.
In writing this sermon, I sat for hours trying to think of a specific memory, a certain moment that I could tell all of you about that would somehow summarize my Kawaga experience. A thousand moments came to mind. I thought about arriving at camp for the first time. I reflected on making Mawanda one summer later. I recalled the trust walk I took with my Chip 3 counselor, memorizing the Ideal, receiving my Sachem name in the Mess Hall on the final night of camp, seeing the Great Lakes for the first time, midnight stargazing on Miracle Dock. I remembered making Double Sachem the same night my brother made his first Sachem, going to Noah’s Ark in the pouring rain, playing Senior Ball, losing the Spectacular, winning the Spectacular, conquering Boundaries, surviving the All Nighter, playing our CIT song on Banquet Night, and staying up all night afterwards.
But I found that no one moment could sum up the decade I’ve spent here, nor the time that anybody else has spent here.
Life at camp flies by before our eyes. It’s up to us to capture each and every moment, because in the end, that’s what camp really is: a collection of incredible memories that work together to lift us up and allow us to be part of something greater than ourselves. This is my experience, my collection of memories. I hope that something that I’ve said here today inspires you to start slowing down time yourself, collecting your own moments, and discovering what camp means to you. Remember: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.