Reflections From the Shores | Justin Jacob’s Sermon

Kawaga Family,

Please read second-year-counselor Justin Jacbos’s sermon which — as I re-read it after Monday’s events — is particularly timely and thoughtful. Justin describes the uniqueness of his first summer as a camper being his CIT year, whereas his fellow CITs had been going to Kawaga year after year. Justin writes: “Somehow I felt at home. In a place I’d never been to, with people I’d never met before.”

We’re proud of our staff and our spirit.

Be Kawaga,

– Ty


Shabbat Shalom. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Justin Jacobs and this is my 3rd summer at camp and 2nd on staff. This morning I will be sharing some thoughts I have written about my time here on the shores.

I want to preface that the sermon is not meant to give you advice about camp because frankly it’s not really my place, as many of you have been at camp so much longer than me. What I do intend is to give a different perspective on camp that hopefully you’ll take to heart

As many of you may know, I’ve had a more unconventional camping career at Kawaga than most. My first year on the shores was not only one of the most atypical summers in camp history, it was also my CIT year. I showed up to the busses in Chicago never having met anyone in my age group before. As you can imagine I was very nervous.

I had previously gone to summer camp in Georgia all my life and I knew exactly what kind of bonds my other CITs had made during their camping careers which made me very anxious that I would feel excluded. Once the door to the van shut and we started to make the journey to camp I immediately was welcomed with open arms into my age group. I can still remember all of my fellow CITs telling me about camp and giving me background to the stories they were reminiscing about. Somehow I felt at home. In a place I’d never been to, with people I’d never met before.

Now, I want you guys all to think about your first memory at camp. Think about the warmness and friendliness this place made you feel and I want you to wonder to yourself why that is. Is it because of our amazing facilities, or all of our land? No. those things are great but the people sitting to the left and right of you paired with values we hold as the Kawaga Family is what makes this place so special. It is very easy to take all these things for granted and to think that this is normal. Trust me, this is not normal.

The word summer camp is defined as “a place providing recreational and athletic facilities for children during the summer vacation period.” I would say this definition is fitting for many camps, but not Kawaga. There is no other place which creates an environment like this, where success and growth are a focus of everyday life. Ty has talked about all the little things at camp and why we do them; why do we stand quietly in the mess hall before meals, or why do we jump in the frigid water every morning. It is because we’re different. It is because we are Kawaga. Kawaga is so unique because it helps us take everyday tasks and turn them into learning experiences which teach us how to grow whether we know it or not.

Earlier in the speech I had you all think about your first memory at camp. Now I want you to think how much you’ve changed since then. Whether that memory was 15 years ago or 2 weeks ago each and everyone of you has grown whether you know it or not. I can’t express how much camp has changed my life for the better and has allowed me to grow as a person both here and at home. Every year I come home from camp people always notice that I’ve changed and they can never understand how a person changes like that in just 2 months. That is because they’ve never been here. People at home keep asking me why I keep coming to camp and really the answer is growth. The best part about this place is the ability for a boy to become a man. The beauty of camp is that although we are all at the same place doing the same things, we all grow in different ways. There is something for everyone at this place and that is why we all come back. With all of our different interests and different goals, we all come back to be with each other. We all come back to Kawaga because we are Kawaga.

Thank you very much. Shabbat Shalom.