Kieve Boys Camp Chapel Talk

So many of you already know me, but for those of you who don’t, my name is Nick Stevens and I am a counselor in the JK Courage cabin this session. Unfortunately, I was unable to be at camp for the first part of the summer because I was working and taking classes. However, when Henry e-mailed me in July saying that there was a possible job opening for a JK cabin second session I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity. Kieve has always been the most cherished place in my life. Like all of you guys, I have spent countless hours swimming out on the rafts, hanging out in one of the cabins on cabin row, and eating at Pasquaney. This is why I had such a difficult time at the beginning of the summer coming to terms with the fact that I would not be able to come back to camp. However, when the opportunity did arise itself it was especially refreshing and made it that much more exciting to get back up to camp after spending the first half of the summer in a classroom and amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City. My mom always says that I am a happier person when I am up here at Kieve, and I know she is right because as soon as I got to the top of the hill a few weeks ago I was overwhelmed with joy as I re-experienced Sunday night dinner, G-Swim, the Ritz skit, my friends, the smiles, and all of the great fun that you guys were having. This will be my eleventh summer up at Kieve. I spent six summers as a camper and this will be my fifth as a counselor. On the drive up, I realized that I have spent exactly half the summers of my entire life here on this peninsula at the end of West neck road. It also occurred to me that I have spent more time at Kieve than on any sports team that I have played on or any school that I have attended. It is safe to say that Kieve has been the single-most influential part of my life and there is no doubt that my time spent at Kieve has shaped me in ways that I am just now beginning to understand. So what is it about Kieve that enables it to have such a profound impact on boys like you and me? As I was thinking about the different ways Kieve shaped me, I was struck by how many potential possibilities a kid at Kieve has to change, grow up, and learn. I thought about the experience of living away from home for four weeks and learning self-reliance and responsibility. I thought about how each of you guys has to figure out how to live with twelve other boys in a cabin. And not only that, the lessons learned from sitting as complete strangers on the first night of camp and then slowly evolving into a tight-knit group of friends. I thought about portaging a canoe through mud pond and on the Northeast Carry, leaping out to grab the trapeze for the first time on the adventure course, and summiting Mt. Katahdin after 12 days of hiking on Maine Trails. These are all experiences that shape what Tommy likes to call “Kieve Guy.” However, out of all these experiences and potential learning opportunities, there is one that stands out above the rest. For me, the single-most influential part of Kieve has been the people I have met and the things that I have learned from the role models that surround all of us at Kieve. Can any of you define in words what the word role model means? I looked up the exact definition of the word “role model” and it is “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. You guys should all hear the word “emulate” and immediately think of Kieve, which quite literally means, “to strive in emulation of.” I think everyone can agree that Kieve is a place filled with role models and people who can be emulated. As I think back on my own time at Kieve, as both a camper and a counselor, it seems as though I spent my entire time “looking up to people” or attempting to emulate those who I found to be role models. I remember being in South Bunkerhill and looking up to the older kids in South Harris and learning the best way to get from Harriet house field to Westcott Point during a game of capture the flag or the best outfit to wear during Pasqualios. As a young counselor I looked up to older counselors like James Mckenna, Miles Dickson, Sam Kennedy, and Foster Durkee who showed me ways to pack for a trip and hold a cabin meeting. And, as I am sure it is with most of you, I have always looked up to the directors- Henry, Tommy, and Charlie who are perhaps the best role models of all. They are constantly teaching us how to lead, instruct, and most of all, how to have fun and be a kid. However, as I was thinking about the dictionary definition of a “role model” something didn’t sit right with me because the final clause of the definition suggests that older people are usually the ones who are role models for younger people. This does not make sense at all because you guys are all role models too. You guys are role models to me. You guys are role models for the other counselors. And finally, you guys, each and every one of you, are role models for all of the other kids sitting around you. I watch you guys every day I am here and I am constantly striving to emulate your actions. As I was writing this speech I was thinking about Sebastian in my cabin who showed up from Germany at 2:45 am in the morning to a foreign country, with almost no background in the native language, left to fend for himself as an eight year old in this crazy place of loud noises and bizarre traditions. I certainly was not leaving to go to Germany alone at age eight and this feat takes an unimaginable amount of courage and trust. Sebastian is definitely a role model for me. I thought about my first night back a few weeks ago when I was sitting alone and South Glenayr and Diego and Emilio came over and invited me to play a game of UNO with them. They quickly refreshed me on the rules and then kicked my butt. That night Diego and Emilio showed kindness (a least before the game commenced) and hospitality. Both of those guys are models for me. I thought about my good friend Jack Callahan who was a camper of mine last summer. Jack taught me some useful pick up lines to woo the ladies after he himself got eight numbers from different girls at the beach during our beach day. Jack is definitely a role model for me. And finally, I thought about my JK courage cabin who all completed the aqua zip yesterday without blinking an eye which demonstrated their willingness to try new things and take risks. However, more importantly, they were all cheering words of encouragement as their other cabin-mates careened down the zip line. After experiencing this, I definitely consider all of the boys in my cabin role models. Although these are just a few examples they illustrate the fact that all of you guys are role models. Not only do I learn from you every day, but I will carry with me the lessons that I learn from you guys for the rest of my life. I want to conclude by sharing with you perhaps my most rewarding moment at Kieve. Two summers ago I did the Bank II trip second session. We had a good cabin, but in the beginning of the trip there was a large disconnect between the kids. There was some bullying issues and everyone was really looking out for only themselves. Furthermore, I had to ask the kids to do things over and over again. I remember being extremely frustrated by their inability to get things done and I remember feeling like I was constantly having to be playing the role of the angry teacher. However, as the days past on the trip the kids slowly got better and better. On the final day, we were at the top of Grindstone rapids, some of the largest rapids that Kieve does. It was a cold and rainy day and we were all extremely wet and tired. My boat was the first one to go down the rapids and I was planning on showing the cabin the best line in the rapids to shoot. However, almost immediately my boat took on water and capsized. My canoe partner and I, along with our personal gear, the maps, and the med kit were swept away by the current. I struggled in the white water for what seemed like hours trying to hold on to my paddle and locate my canoe partner. Before I knew it, however, I was being hoisted up into a canoe by two of my campers. As I re-acclimated myself, I saw other kids in my cabin T-rescuing my boat while others worked together to try and rescue the gear and my personal belongings. As the water slowed at the end of the rapid, the boys had managed to rescue both me and my canoe partner, all of our personal belongings, and all of the trip gear. As I sat in the middle of the boat the sun came out and my cabin began to laugh and tell me how frightened I had looked. At that very moment, all of those kids become role models for me because of the way they had overcome adversity and learned how to look out for one another, including me. From that moment on, I have realized how much can be learned from you guys and the role models you can be in my own life. It has taken me a while to fully understand and recognize the great role models that surround all of us at Kieve. As you guys begin to observe your own role models you will then be able to take bits and pieces of them and slowly emulate them in your own life which will in turn shape and influence you as a person. However, all of you, as role models have a responsibility to be conscious of you actions and act in a way so that when someone takes a bit or a piece of you to emulate it will shape them in a good way.