At Kawaga, we talk about “moments and memories.” Zach Greco, whose 11th summer at camp this is and second on staff, realized that Kawaga provides no shortage of either. Each week, we’ll share with you a counselor’s “sermon,” which I think gives you greater insight into camp life and another perspective as to what makes Kawaga so special.
Enjoy the read. And, know your boys not only are having the time of their lives, they’re learning and growing, too.
Shabbat Shalom. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Zack Greco, and this is my 11th year at Kawaga and 2nd on staff.
A little while back when I was offered the opportunity to deliver a sermon, I began to look back to my best camp memories that I could potentially talk about. The memories started flooding in, and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to talk about my 5-year-long journey with barefooting where I didn’t get up skiing for 5 straight years, and the feeling I had when I finally got it, the feeling I had when I won my very first Spectacular in 2012, or all the memories I have created with my fellow 2019 CIT’ on Boundaries, the sailing trip, and just throughout the years at camp on a daily basis.
So, while attempting to pick a specific moment to speak about today, it was safe to say I was having some difficulties. I searched for any sort of inspiration I could get, and it brought me to Bob Gottleib. I asked Bob, “Can you give me a random word?” To which he responded, “pizza.” Although I am sure Bob did not put much thought into that word he had just given me, I decided to look into it very deeply. I looked at my watch and it read Friday. I realized then that we would be having the classic Camp Kawaga dish of Friday Pizza.
Anyone who knows me well understands that sometimes I can be just a bit of a picky eater. For me, camp food has always been a struggle, because at home I eat the same foods all the time, and at camp there is a variety of foods that I am just not used to. For this reason, I have always looked forward to every Friday lunch where I can chow down on some pizza and just enjoy the meal. This camp tradition is one that I cherish greatly.
Expanding way further than I needed to into Bob’s answer to my question, I looked even deeper into all the camp traditions that I really cherish. Not the bigger traditions such as the Spectacular, Blue/Bold cup, the All Nighter, Boundaries, or making Mawanda or Sachem, but the smaller, seemingly insignificant ones like appreciating nature every time a Bald Eagle flies into our view; sliding all over a wet D1 after a rainstorm; teaching chips “c-h-i-p-s we’re the chips and we’re the best for the first time” and their wanting to do it every meal, just excited that they know a cheer: screaming long cheers such as “There’s a Hole in my Bucket” in the Mess hall only to lose your voice hours later for the next week; telling campers the traditional Kawaga scary stories like Old Man Baker and Black Feather for the first time; getting skiing or sailing team shirts the day of a tournament or regatta and being able to walk around camp with the new merch; and waking up early to ski on the good water or to run in preparation of my upcoming cross-country or track seasons. And, of course, Friday Pizza.
What I realized from all of this is that there are so many incredible memories that I have made in my past 11 years here, that no matter what word Bob answered that question with, I could have connected it to a million different memories and created a million different sermons before I got to a word that I could not work with. This realization resonated strongly with me.
When my friends from home all ask me every year why I keep coming back to camp even though I am getting older and older, I never have quite the right answer, and I think what I found in this search is that these small traditions that we have instilled here — that are not found anywhere else on this earth — are what makes this place special. And, that is why I am excited every year to come back when summertime rolls around.