Hello everyone, my name is Pierce Leonard. As some of you may already know this is my first summer here at Kieve. Many of you have been here for way longer. The fact of the matter is that your time spent at Kieve is irrelevant in order to understand and measure just how special of a place Kieve is. It is an impossible task to describe Kieve to others outside of Kieve, because there is no place like it in the world!
Let me tell you about my experience in how I found out about Kieve. A long time Kiever and good buddy of mine, Drew Lincoln, happened to go to the same college as me. The more Drew and I became friends, the more I realized that the word “Kieve” popped up in random conversations or he would join a conversation by saying ‘oh yeah, that’s kind of Kieve like” or “yea, I know that person through Kieve”. I asked him many times to explain his Kieve reference and when he would attempt to he would begin stuttering and would not be able to formulate a coherent sentence. I honestly thought the man had a problem and just couldn’t talk in public settings. That I am happy to report is not the case.
After graduating from college this past May I found myself not having a plan of action and no job lined up. Sure enough, one day a message from the good lord above came to me and I soon became an employee at Kieve for summer camp. Within 15 minutes I received phone calls from numerous friends who had gone to Kieve and were working at Kieve who were exasperated with excitement and hammered the message into my head that I was going to have the best summer of my life. And there I was dumbfounded, because I did not know what I was in store for.
To cut to the chase, upon my arrival here at the beginning of the summer and everyday since I have been in awe at how Amazing Kieve truly is. Many times during my first weeks here at Kieve I came to understand that there is no place on earth as unique as Kieve and there was no concrete way to explain it.
Kieve creates opportunities in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. Day in and day out this place challenges each person to be better than the day before with no added pressure, but rather a common understanding. There are opportunities to climb a bit higher on the ropes course, opportunities to score higher in riflery, opportunities to make a new friend, just to name a few. I, too, have learned more about myself and who I am as a person during my short time here than through any other experience in my life.
Each day you have at Kieve you are changing more than you can understand. The values that drive the Kieve experience are being imbedded in you and making you a stronger and better person, whether you know it or not.
PERSEVERANCE; every one of us has been here some time and has gone through each day with struggles and triumphs. The struggle may be coping with homesickness. It could be struggling with clay. Instead of giving up in pottery you keep trying and eventually you get better and more masterful of the craft. Or you start out not even knowing how to handle a bow and may miss every shot you take in archery, but soon enough you are getting “quals”. For newcomers, this place challenges you to do the Island Swim that is a huge testament to one’s perseverance. Lets just say that when you’re here, you learn to persevere.
COURAGE. This to me is quite an obvious one as each of us go through each day challenged try new things or become better at things we have already learned to do. Courage is the willingness to come to Kieve and the want to stay here. Courage is taking any opportunity and getting the most out of the experience. You may not know the first thing about woodshop or how to cast a fishing rod, but going into any activity and trying your best to learn is a tribute to your courage. Courage is also taking responsibility for your actions. No one is perfect, but it takes a courageous person to admit when they are wrong and to apologize.
LOYALTY. This is one of the most important values I have learned in my life and the way Loyalty is presented here at Kieve is by far the most powerful. I have been a part of teams and other organizations. But nothing comes close to the tight knit community here at Kieve. No other program is able to captivate young men’s minds to keep returning year after year. I have heard hundreds of times this summer that “you just gotta come back” and for that saying to be a reality with campers and staff alike is a tribute to the special place that Kieve is and the once in a lifetime opportunity that has been presented to you.
So, for the rest of camp I would like each and every one of you to be conscious of these three traits and to define what they mean to you. I also and most importantly want you all to examine and realize the amazing opportunity you have been blessed with to be here for a session this summer. I would like you to constantly remind yourself everyday to motivate you to get the most out of this place. Because I can assure you that your time here this summer is going to fly by and I want all of you to leave this place with nothing but the fondness of memories and the drive to just come back.