Ty’s Take | “Ideal Reflections”

Hello Kawaga Families,

As many of you know, the Pineneedle is our annual publication, which documents the full story of our summer. There are plenty of Alumni who have their Pineneedles dating back to the ‘40s and ‘50s! We also “publish” Weekly Pineneedles in which campers write summaries of events and activities, for which they’re awarded Mawanda and Sachem points (both of which are more meaningful than ever to boys, which I wrote about a few days ago).

Last summer we offered a new opportunity for campers to gain points by putting pen to paper. We call these writings “Ideal Reflections.” Campers select a sentence or even a paragraph from The Kawaga Ideal and describe how that passage is personally relevant to them. We ask them to write about what the words they selected mean to them… or how they’ve already had an impact on their young lives.

Here are excerpts from just three of the “Ideal Reflections” from our campers this year:

The Kawaga Ideal is filled with teachings of high morality and core values. The important lessons that one learns from the Ideal can be translated into everyday life even after you leave Kawaga. From reaching ‘into the future, but never forget(ing) the past’ to being “brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid,” what you take away from the Ideal extends far beyond the shores of Lake Kawaguesaga. This sacred creed of Kawaga has been here since the early days of camp because it connects to the original mission of Doc E:  to build character. Fortunately, 104 years later, the original mission is still present in everything we do at camp. From reflecting on the week at small pow wows every other Sunday with our tribes, to cheering for the other team after an intense game, all of this happens with an underlying, yet important message of living out the Ideal.


At the last pow wow of the session I received another feather for my headband as I achieved what was the impossible. Last summer was more of a learning experience for me rather than another camping season. I learned what hard work does and what encouragement can do for you. This is why I believe the line “here let him learn to stand up in the storm, here let him learn compassion for those who fail means that  when a challenge comes your way, you need to work through it and try your hardest. And when someone has to face a difficult challenge, you give them encouragement to help them get through it, like everyone did for me. This is why that is my favorite line.


“Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high.” I have thought about this line for a long time. I was given it to interpret for Sachem, and it was put out for discussion at our first Mohawk small pow wow. After all of my reflection, I have finally realized how important these 14 words are to me  and what they have done for me. Many of my choices and actions at camp relate to this line. Whether it was choosing my first art project for Mawanda to work four hours at one of our ball fields or devoting a full week during every club and Open Areas to achieving my drop-ski miracle, setting a high goal is important for me everywhere. At first, I thought this line referred to someone who can overcome hard challenges. I don’t think is not the case. Instead, this line talks about someone who will set the bar high for themselves and someone who isn’t afraid to be challenged.


Parents, you can see why we’re so proud of your boys. As you can see from all the pictures we post, they certainly know how to have all-out fun. But, they also know there’s more to life — and more to Kawaga — than fun. They’re reflective and appreciative, as are we.

I’ll write to you again Friday for the final “Ty’s Take” of the 2018 season. Until then…

Be Kawaga,