“Reflections from the Shores” | Murray’s Parents Weekend “Sermon”
Hello Kawaga Family,
What a wonderful Parents Weekend we had! I know our campers and staff had a special time with all of our visitors. For those who were able to join us, we hope you had a great “reunion” with your camper and that you got to meet his friends and counselors, while seeing your son within the special context of Camp Kawaga.
One of our longstanding traditions has been to invite a staff member to speak from his heart at our special Saturday-morning service. This year, I asked Richard Korengold, known on the Shores as Murray, to give the “sermon.” Murray is a long-time Kawagaian — having spent many summers here as a camper, counselor, Assistant Director, and member of our alumni association. Murray, like so many of our alumni, enjoys a highly successful professional career and has graciously and gratefully mentored many of our staff in their job search and professional development.
On the 45th reunion of his first summer at Kawaga, Murray spoke about the experience he’s had in “Hiring Kawaga”! In other words, Murray — like so many other alumni — knows that the skills and values that counselors gain at Kawaga make them special job candidates. In fact, after Murray spoke, one dad told commented, “Show me someone who can recite and live the Kawaga Idea… I’ll hire him!.”
Thanks, Murray. And, thank you parents, campers, staff, and alumni.
My name is Richard Korengold, but most people associated with Camp Kawaga since the 1970s and beyond don’t know that. To them and to Camp Kawaga, my only real name is Murray. Camp does that…and many other things, too.
I was a camper, counselor, co-founder of the Kawaga Alumni Association, advisor at large, and as a 40-something year-old, came back to camp for three summers as an Assistant Director. I still actively participate. Blue and gold run through my veins. People from camp I haven’t personally met contact me for guidance or just to talk about camp. When I’m about Kawaga, I feel complete.
Kawaga helps to produce men who recognize that balance is important in life. I have a 31-year marriage, two adult children, and scores (if not hundreds) of outside relationships. I volunteer in my community and have a 30-plus year business career all with the same company. Camp can do that, too. Well, I’m done now talking about myself! Believe it or not — this is not about me. It’s about Kawaga, Kawaga’s reach, and what a broad, powerful alumni association can do for you, your son, and your family.
In order to thrive and provide campers a unique transition from young boys to exceptional grown men, Kawaga needs quality staff. Ask any Kawaga camper of any age, and you’ll hear that their recollections include profound memories of the tremendous impact a counselor has had on their lives. Ask any counselor, and they too will share with you how meaningful being on staff has been to their own personal development. The skill sets that staff members acquire here at camp are universally valuable, relevant, and desirable in the outside workplace. Let me share with you just one story.
Twenty or so years ago, my two business partners and I were seeking somebody for an entry-level position on our financial-services team. I had just met a former Kawaga counselor at an alumni event — a young person who was working at a “job” (not a career) and was seeking something better. I mentioned my firm had an opening. So, we exchanged contact information and agreed to stay in touch. When I went back to my business partners, I relayed the story and shared this young man’s resume. I explained that I only had just met this individual, didn’t know his family, and could only pull out a few professional skill sets from his basic resume. What I did emphasize, though, was that he’d been an effective camper and a counselor at Kawaga for nearly 10 years. If someone rose through the ranks at Kawaga for years and years, any serious flaws would probably have been spotted and widely known.
With high confidence, I told my partners (both who happen to be former campers and staff members at other camps) that if someone has been successful at Camp Kawaga, the character issue had likely been addressed and that this person would have the qualities needed to be a positive addition to our team, the department, and the firm. Not surprisingly, this particular young man has widely surpassed any expectations we ever had, and he continues to enjoy an incredibly successful career and likely lifetime employment with our company.
We have since hired two other successful Kawaga alumni in my department and others elsewhere in the firm. There are plenty of other stories similar to mine across our alumni’s professional career landscape.
My purpose in relating all of this to you is simple. We are in the process of refining, supporting, and expanding an alumni-sponsored organization known as the Kawaga Professional Network or KPN. The KPN matches groups of alumni from a wide range of fields: health care, manufacturing, law, logistics, marketing, education, and financial services to name a few. As an alumni group, we’ve promoted and practiced the notion that Kawaga Alumni Hire Kawaga Alumni. Desirable and unique skill sets are built here on the Shores. Resume-building occurs here. Networks are constructed here. Good jobs and career opportunities are fostered here. Kawaga does that.
Please encourage your son to come back to work at Kawaga as a young adult to work and grow by not only reabsorbing the core camp values of Fellowship, Enthusiasm, Sportsmanship, and Spirit, but to nurture the additional staff-level principles of Leadership, Responsibility, Character, and Maturity. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone with all of these attributes woven into the fabric of their young and growing lives?
By sending your son here and by being here today, you’ve already demonstrated that you are good parents and family members. However, as our children grow into young adults, we all realize sadly that there is only so much we as individual family members can do for them. We have always believed there is something special going on here at Kawaga that doesn’t have to end when your child finishes his time as a camper. Embolden your son to complete the program, build upon his values, enhance relationships, and continue to grow his character by returning to camp repeatedly as a staff member. In these days of college students opting for what often turn out to be meaningless intern positions simply to “resume-build,” there’s another, more fulfilling option. Return to Kawaga for as many summers as possible, taking on additional responsibilities and challenges.
The Kawaga Professional Network has “your back” and your son’s. That’s what Kawaga does… and will continue to do.
Murray (Richard Korengold)