Ty’s Take: Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s that time of year for family, food, and fun, which happens to be my personal second favorite time of year! More importantly it’s a time for gratitude — to take the opportunity not only to reflect on that for which we’re thankful, but also to let others know that you appreciate them.

So, thank you Kawaga Nation for all that you do — for being a part of our family, for giving and caring, for your spirit and enthusiasm. For Being Kawaga.

There are so many people to be thankful for — after all, Kawaga is a large and ever-growing family. So, as you might expect, I went to the Kawaga Ideal to see what it says about giving thanks. I was a bit surprised that the Ideal doesn’t explicitly talk about gratitude. Instead, the theme of being thankful is implicit throughout its five paragraphs. Perhaps the one phrase that best captures it is “never forget the past.” What a wondeful reminder to really think about and be grateful for all the good in our lives.

So, I want to take this opportunity to let you know that we’ll never forget what all of you mean to us and what you have contributed to the Kawaga Nation.

First, let me thank our campers. You are the reason why there’s Kawaga. Doc E founded Kawaga for you — for fun, yes, but for so much more. You inspire us and make us proud. The many simple moments of joy you provide are what keep us warm during the 10-month wait ‘til next summer. And, of course, we love your enthusiasm not only for Kawaga, but for learning about yourself as you grow into adulthood.

A son who will know that to know himself is the foundation stone of all true knowledge.

Parents: You are our essential partners in what we do. The support you provide and the insights you share make our job easier and so much more meaningful. The values that you teach and model for 12 months are those that are the basis of what we do at Kawaga.

Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high.

Staff. You are the backbone of Kawaga. When all of us look back on our days at camp, it’s you we think of — for what you taught us and how made us feel. You make each camp day come to life. You take the small moments and connect them to the larger lessons that campers will never forget.

One who will be proud and unbending in defeat, yet humble and gentle in victory.

Alumni: You are the embodiment of Kawaga’s “ultimate effect,” being forever shaped by the experiences and friendships from your days on the Shores. Many of you have made sure that your children and grandchildren get to experience Kawaga for themselves — that there’s a “Little” brave literally following in your footsteps at camp.

One who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep.

Nurses, Doctors, Maintenance, Facilities, Chefs: You’ve never been more important to us, keeping us healthy and safe. You provide an environment that’s reflective of our values, while making sure we’re well fueled so that we can fully enjoy the gift of being at Kawaga.

Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Owners: Fishers and Daubes, you lead by example and by your heart. You’ve made sure that Kawaga is more beautiful than ever and has the finest facilities of any camp anywhere, reflecting our collective pride. Your love for and stewardship of Kawaga links us together and — for that and more — we couldn’t be more grateful.

A touch of humility so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

My Family: Mom and Dad — thank you for decades of love and support. My sisters Jill and Tori — thank you for your guidance, space, and introducing me to Kawaga. Lauren, thank you for being my partner all four seasons. I’m grateful everyday for you, Shay, Vaughn, and Dane. How amazing it is that our family’s life is intertwined with camp and that we all share a deep gratitude for Kawaga’s campers, parents, staff, alumni, and owners.

Enjoy this special week with your loved ones and enjoy a warm, meaningful, and lovely Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful. Be Proud. Be Kawaga.