As I tour the country, during the “off season”, calling on new families interested in sending their girls to Agawak, I am asked over and over, “Why Agawak?”
Having spent the past 29 years – more than half my life -- on the shores of Blue Lake, welcoming thousands of returning campers, the answer comes easy: “Because our girls love it here.”
Agawak girls know that simple response to be true. Last night I watched some 300 campers and counselors snuggled together at our Campfire Ceremony. There was so much love in that circle it brought tears to my eyes.
At Agawak, kindness and inclusion are at the core of our success. The messages “Kindness Matters” is etched on plaques and tacked to many of our beautiful pine trees. At Campfire last night, I spoke to the girls about the Golden Rule – to treat others like you would like to be treated.
I know that some of you are anxious moms and dads, sending children off to sleepaway camp for the first time. Please be assured that there are plenty of hugs and supportive words being spoken to everyone here, many times, every day.
Alumnae from ages 30 to 90, still tell me time and time again their best friendships to this day were formed at Agawak. The bonds formed from sharing daily meals, activities and camping trips, and just laughing in the bunks are unbreakable. It is truly my greatest joy as a camp director – to watch love grow, to see girls walking with arms linked tightly, hair flying, smiling and singing.
These are circles of loyalty and trust that indeed last decades. And it starts with the kindness and inclusiveness of Day One as a new camper. Our girls come from many different backgrounds and experiences but as the days turn into weeks I see one family forming – an Agawak sisterhood.
Along with the friendships your children are developing they are becoming girls and young women developing the all-important character traits of grit and perseverance. While trying dozens of new activities and sports, friends cheer each other on, they keep pushing and pushing one another to succeed and encouraging each other not to give up.
This essential life skill of tenacity not only helps a camper’s self-esteem but also forms the backbone of a successful adult life.
Thank you for sending me these wonderful girls, a group that keeps me laughing and happy. Each day, as I walk around camp I’m getting my own share of hugs and love. Kindness matters more than anything else, for all of us, young and old.
And when these young girls become grown women I just know they will feel what our alum tell me they feel, that Agawak remains at the heart of who they are. It sure is for me!