Ty’s Take Week 4 – 2022

Hello Kawaga Family,

We never stop learning at Camp Kawaga.

This summer’s Visitors Weekend was nothing short of awesome. We feel a special sense of gratitude to have had everybody back here on the Shores and to be able to share that time together. In some ways, we feel like we’re almost too lucky to have such awesome families and wonderful campers, as well as a dedicated staff who just laid it all out there for our families. They worked their tails off!

Not only was this our first Visitors Weekend in three summers, we also changed up our program. First, rather than campers meeting their parents in the parking lot on Friday afternoon and immediately leaving camp, we invited families to come on in. What an opportunity to see camp without any delay! Parents got to see their son’s cabin, check out all our new facilities, and meet their son’s counselors and members of our admin team.

This change was purposeful, allowing parents to see camp through a different lens — with their sons as their tour guide of their home-away-from-home. The rhythm of the weekend, including our traditional Saturday Visitor Weekend programming, was just right. For the first time in a long while, we had campers sleeping in camp both nights, which is a departure from allowing them to sleep in town with their parents. This change successfully kept the boys in “camp mode” throughout the weekend without any interruption. And Sunday began just like a normal day with everybody waking up in their cabins. The transition into second session, by and large, has been seamless, which was our goal.

On Sunday, before the second-session campers arrived, we had a staff-training session with a mental-health professional that proved particularly valuable. She articulated the idea and reality of secondary trauma in a way that resonated with our team. So, when we had second four-weekers from Highland Park and throughout Chicagoland integrate with our eight-weekers, we felt more prepared. And, as we’ve learned, camp can be a wonderful distraction. We’ve had no integration issues.

In fact, we experienced a seamless transition. Certainly, helping that was that several of the new campers had already been introduced to Kawaga at Father-Son Weekend last summer and this summer.

We never stop improving at Camp Kawaga.

I like where we’re at right now. The new campers are jumping right in, all our boys are fired up, and our staff is energetic. Next week we’ll be competing against Menominee, which we’ve been doing now for more than half a century. What’s changed is the greater diversity of sports and the even wider participation among our campers. We love to compete regardless of the outcome. I’m interested to see how our boys respond to pressure, which we believe can be important, as it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate how our values should always hold up. What’s key is that boys learn the Kawaga way: to always be “proud and unbending in defeat yet humble and gentle in victory.” As our counselors and older campers know, there are a lot of little eyes closely watching them. So, win or lose, we want to always model behaviors that are consistent with our values.

So, parents, please know that your boys are doing great! We’ve had a bit of rain, so camp is also looking greener and they’re well rested just in time for more activity and competition. There’s so much to look forward to, so much fun to be had, so many lessons to teach and learn.

Be Kawaga,