Ty’s Take – Through the Lens of Our Staff: The Kawaga Experience

At Kawaga, we pride ourselves on crafting an unforgettable experience for our campers. Today, I want to give you a glimpse of this experience from the perspective of our dedicated staff. Our counselors work tirelessly every day to provide an experience they will personally be proud of. For our “homegrown” Kawaga counselors, who were once campers themselves, their mission is to recreate – and build upon – the fond memories they cherish from their own camp days.

Each year, our training sessions are the backbone of our team-building efforts. Leaders emerge from the ranks, taking on incredible responsibilities. Their ability to work together is crucial to their success, allowing them to connect deeply with each camper.

Every summer, there are events that I can tell you with 100% certainty will happen: first-year campers will swim the bay; we will have intense competition internally and with other camps; there will be socials with neighboring girls’ camps; a few minor injuries will occur; and the lake will warm up as the summer progresses into July. But beyond these predictable events, there are always surprises and challenges that arise.

This past year, I was introduced to the concept of E+R=O (Event + Response = Outcome). To summarize, we don’t control the events in our lives; we control our response to each event. We incorporated this mindset into our staff training, emphasizing its relevance to the life of a camp counselor. Events are constantly changing – a camper loses a game in a shootout, an assignment gets changed, an opponent alters their defensive strategy, or the weather doesn’t cooperate. Each of these scenarios provides an opportunity to choose the most appropriate response to achieve the desired outcome.

Our staff has faced several curveballs this summer, many of which the campers never notice, but these challenges contribute to the magic that is created at Kawaga. Ultimately, what matters most to our counselors is ensuring that each camper has the best summer possible. They are in control of shaping that experience, responding thoughtfully to every situation to create the ideal outcome for our campers.

In the end, the dedication, resilience, and teamwork of our counselors are what make Kawaga special. They embody the E+R=O mindset, demonstrating that while we can’t control every event, we can always choose our response to ensure the best possible outcome for our campers.

Parents, please know that we’re always striving to improve to provide the best summer and the most fulfilling and character-building experience for your sons. E+R=O is only one example of how we train our staff to think about and react to what happens at Kawaga each day. In fact, I have no doubt that many of your sons will become Kawaga counselors one day, and you’ll then understand from their perspectives and experience the training, work, and operational organization that goes unnoticed day-to-day. And, of course, one of the reasons we have the highest staff return rate of any camp is that so many of our counselors grew up at Kawaga, nurtured by our staff, and surrounded by enthusiasm, sportsmanship, fellowship, and spirit. The learning never ends.

Be Kawaga,