Hello Kawaga Family,
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that’s rain falling from the sky as I type this message to you! It’s almost foreign to us this summer on the Shores. And, the silver lining is that the boys and staff could use a bit of a respite from the hot and sunny weather we’ve been so enjoying. The rain also gives us a chance to roll out some of our new “Rainy Day Activities” that we planned for during the offseason. (But, no worries… the forecast shows this is only a temporary respite!)
So today I’d like to share with you the “sermon” I delivered at our Parents Weekend Saturday-mornning service, especially for those who were unable to join us. As I re-read it today amidst our 8-weekers and second-session campers, it struck me as something that I want to share with all of you — regardless if you were here last weekend.
That’s because — in many ways — the emotions I was feeling as I wrote this have only intensified as we’ve now said “so-long” to our first-session campers and “hello” to our new arrivals. We are family, and I’m so thrilled and proud of the type of family we are.
Good morning and welcome to Visitors Weekend at Camp Kawaga 2018!
Lauren and I are thrilled you here and are very excited to have you share this special weekend with your family. That word — family. It strikes a deep chord in me as I stand in front of you today. Kawaga has that way of drawing in you in and capturing your soul. It has always felt like home to me. But these last few weeks have held even more meaning as we welcomed in the newest Kawaga Brave, which brings yet another level of significance to the word family.
It has been quite an experience to bring life into the world at a place already so full of life and joy. I will always remember the moment we brought Dane into camp. We walked through camp onto the Omni, and it was as if a magnetic force came through camp. Campers flocked to Lauren and Dane, and the looks on their eyes will be forever etched in my brain. Amazement. Wonder. Bewilderment at the site of a boy this tiny!
What made me stop in my tracks was the the realization that at some point in the future Dane, Vaughn, Shay, and Lauren will also have these warm Kawaga memories etched deep into their soul. It was then that it all started to sink in We were back home and had one heck of a welcoming party.
At camp we celebrate accomplishments big and small. Some are announcements in the Mess Hall; others carry even more meaning with ceremonies in the Council Ring. As a counselor, the greatest reward is seeing the impact you have on a camper. The interesting part of that is often you don’t know when you’re making such an impact until years later, when — if you’re lucky enough — you’re reunited with your campers and they recount the moment of impact for you.
This celebration is different. Over the past four weeks, all of your kind gestures and words of support and encouragement have been so wonderful. But Lauren, as your husband and your biggest fan, I just have to say, “You are amazing!” I am so proud to be your husband and so amazed with your heart. Your graceful manner and power as a woman has everyone in awe. You are the mother of our children, the rock of our family, and are still making a daily impact on our campers. You do so much for everyone here. Thank you and I love you.
So let me pivot to your sons. We are so proud of them. They have worked tirelessly on the ballfields and in the cabins. We have seen beautiful signs of Fellowship, welcoming in new campers and friends. We’ve seen wonderful examples of Sportsmanship while playing other camps and, of course, playing against other Kawaga Braves. Enthusiasm is something this group has in spades. Every lunch is an event here, and cheering has always been part of our culture. But what I am most impressed with this, so far, is the elevated level of Spirit around camp — the deep connection to Kawaga and the zest for being here. I’m proud to say that the Kawaga value of Spirit is alive and well.
This summer we have delivered a challenge to ours boys. We re-tooled the point sheet for achieving the honors of Mawanda and Sachem. In short, we’ve set the bar higher. And, we’re so proud of how our campers have reacted to this challenge. The boys are working to be proficient in areas they can’t always take advantage of at home by fulfilling “contracts” in all areas of camp — whether it’s canoeing, swimming, fire building, or wood working. They working to improve in these areas and so many others. At Kawaga, they have the opportunity to learn and fail and then succeed. They are mastering themselves here, which will serve as a strong foundation to their future success in life. I encourage you to ask your sons about what they’re learning and what they’re looking to achieve. We always have room for improvement and encouragement!
We have Kawaga families who have traveled long and far for to make it here — from California, New York, Florida, Atlanta, Texas, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. The dedication each and every one of you give to the development and growth of your son is so impressive and appreciated. Thank you for being here this weekend. And thank you for being part of the Kawaga Family.