Bringing Camp Skills Back Home: Max and Kate Konigsberg Spread the Word About Opioid Addiction

Every summer, twins Max and Kate Konigsberg leave their Greenwich, CT home where they live with their parents, Jeffrey Konigsberg and Joan Lunden, and, along with their younger siblings, come to Maine for camp. Jeff Konigsberg owns boys Camp Takajo, in Naples, and girls Tripp Lake Camp in Poland; he says the twins have been around camp since “they could crawl.” Max and Kate say camp has given them a broad range of skills, particularly leadership abilities. So perhaps it’s no surprise that last spring, when the twins designed their capstone project for the culmination of eighth grade, they put some of those skills to use.

The result? A video they produced and shared with classmates and parents focusing on the opioid epidemic.

Max says the idea for the project came to them when Jeff came home from a board meeting of the ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education. “It’s something we didn’t know a lot about,” Max says.

“We never realized prescription drugs could be harmful, that they could remotely affect you other than medical purposes,” he says.

“It was pretty new information to us,” says Kate.

“It really shocked us,” says Max. “It’s something we really wanted to be open about, to let the community know that this is something everyone needs to know about.”

The twins say their goal in producing the video was to share information about the opioid epidemic, by recording interviews and presenting statistics. “On the day we were presenting, the second we hit ‘click’ it was so relieving to know all our hard work would be shared with our peers,” Kate says.

“We achieved our main goal, to bring the community together about an epidemic that many people had never heard of,” Max says.

Camp has fostered in them a spirit of leadership, they say. At Camp Takajo, Max says older campers like himself are charged with making phone calls to younger campers, providing information and reassurance about the camp experience.

“When I was younger, regardless of my dad owning the camp, these older kids made me feel so welcome,” Max says. Now, at age 14, he is in a role model position, he says.

Similarly, at Tripp Lake Camp, older girls serve as “big sisters” to younger campers, Kate says. “They take the little girls under their wing, and teach them traditions,” Kate says. “They bring them into the community of camp.”

In creating the video, she and Max “kind of brought our peers under our wing,” Kate says. The project adapted leadership skills learned at camp “and brought them into my school community,” she says.

The twins continued their involvement in the issue this fall, when they helped organize a prescription medicine drive held on September 17 at the ONS Foundation 5K “Race to Stop the Opioid Epidemic.”

“It was a great event,” Max says.

Jeff Konigsberg says his kids’ efforts are pleasing to him as a camp owner.

“It’s always gratifying when you hear of campers who put the needs of others ahead of their own needs,” he says. “In this case, I am particularly proud because these campers are my children.”

The twins are living the values of camp, Konigsberg says.

“As a parent and camp director, I hope that the values that we instill in each child, every summer, will remain with our children well beyond their years at camp.”

Max and Kate’s capstone project opened their eyes to the grim reality of the opioid epidemic, and in turn educated their classmates.

“Knowing that we did something to help people in our community,” Kate says, “was the biggest form of satisfaction.”

Kristine Millard

About Kristine Millard

Kristine Snow Millard is a free-lance writer from Portland and a fan of all things summer, including camp. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree (communications) and a law degree from Boston University, and, most recently, earned an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. She is currently helping to edit The Art of Outdoor Living, a guidebook used for Junior Maine Guide candidates, and is a regular contributor to the Maine Summer Camps newsletter. She has also contributed to the American Camp Association New England newsletter. Kris has written regularly for Maine Women and My Generation, both publications of Current Publishing. She has written features for the Maine Sunday Telegram, and is also a free-lance grant writer. A parent, she is also deeply committed to the subject of emotional wellness, and has seen how camp can foster whole and healthy kids. She is working on a memoir about living with clinical depression, and an essay she has written on that topic is forthcoming in an anthology to be published by Talking Writing, an on-line literary magazine.