2022 Curator General Thoughts

To the supervisory team at Kawanhee,

I feel that I was welcomed into camp life with open arms, and it is difficult to think of what could have been done better after having such a wonderful time working with the camp this season. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people throughout the camp season and reunion, and it brings me great joy to have left my mark on your wonderful community. Camp Kawanhee is a special place that offered me so many opportunities to have an amazing summer while continuing to grow professionally. I was able to settle into the museum fairly quickly because I was able to focus on the reunion as my end goal, but I could understand how someone with less experience and nothing to prepare for could feel overwhelmed coming in. The letters from past curators were especially helpful as a guide for getting started, and Emily’s binder in the museum is also a great resource.

I think it could be helpful for invested staff, and maybe the board, to identify areas of growth they would like to see for the museum, in order to better define the boundaries of the collection. The museum is there to preserve historical materials of value to the camp, which continue to be generated each year, and not everything can be kept. A collections mission statement written by the history-minded staff members could be beneficial to future curators, as many of us are coming from outside the community, often for only a season, and may not feel equipped to make decisions about what should stay and what should not without a boundary established by the camp community.

Communication was an area that I felt needed some work. Tom was the easiest to reach consistently when I had questions, but he was only at the camp occasionally, and some of the other staff I could go to for assistance were more difficult to track down. It may help to have a directory printed with the contact information of the staff the curator would work with most closely. I personally prefer to have things written down so I can reference them in the future, and there were a few staff I wished I had connected
with via email about some things, as I think it would have been easier to get and stay on the same page when it came to some of the planning for the reunion. This may not be as much of an issue for non-reunion summers, but the reunion was a complex event with things constantly changing, and I often felt a little out of the loop. That being said, I was empowered to make my own decisions in the museum, and I felt comfortable doing so, so I do think future curators will need to be (or become) comfortable with a more laissez-faire management style

Aside from that, I really don’t have much more to suggest. The experience truly is what you make of it, and I think it’s important for future curators to know that. I felt supported without being micromanaged, and that was an overwhelmingly positive aspect of the experience. I felt free to be flexible with my schedule, and made sure to balance work and play so that I could get the most out of my summer in such a beautiful place. Everyone was very accommodating and allowed me to participate as much or as little in camp activities as I wanted. I never got to go away to summer camp as a child, and feel that my summer at Kawanhee gave me an equitable experience as an adult; I am thankful to have worked with such a talented, diverse team of people, and I really could not have asked for a better summer. Wishing you all an enjoyable winter,