Camp Mighty Talks: Kenna Zemedkun / by Leslie

Kenna, a Grammy nominated artist and the organizer of Summit on the Summit, had the audience charmed from the start, telling us about his mother and asking us to sing happy birthday to her over the phone. He was very comfortable on stage and is clearly passionate about what he does. It was inspiring to hear about his experience planning and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the global clean water crisis.

Kenna said, right at the start of the talk, that to be well, you should do well. He meant that giving back and helping others is a very important part of being happy and feeling fulfilled. When choosing what cause to focus his energy on, he realised the answer had been communicated to him a number of times by his father. When he finally started listening, he heard stories of his father growing up in Ethiopia without clean water and when he learned that his uncle had died as a child of what was likely a water born illness, his dedication to bring clean water to communities throughout the world began. When you are looking for a cause to support, find something that is already close to your heart, it will be more personal and meaningful.

When choosing how to best raise money and bring awareness to the cause, he decided to do something extreme to attract attention. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was something he had already attempted to do and it seemed like a good endeavor that people would tune in to, whether or not he succeeded. Participating in the climb himself made it much easier to ask others to join him and he was able to get a number of culturally influential celebrities and educators to climb with him, raising the profile of the project and getting a documentary of it filmed and aired on MTV.

Before Kenna began his charity work, he had always hoped to have a larger audience, but he realized that you could wait forever for things to be just right. Whatever your platform, whomever your audience, it's never too early to start working for a cause you believe in. In addition to that, he stressed that action is not always what is required, sometimes your voice can be just as powerful. Helping people to understand the problem is as important as solving the problem. We can't all climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but we can draw attention to it, talk about it and spread the word.

When speaking about sponsors and advertising he brought us all back to Brian's talk when he said it is important that everyone's intentions match. His team turned away many lucrative sponsorships because the company's policies or practices didn't line up with the sustainability goals of the climb. He stressed how important it is to hand pick sponsors and to request money from marketing budgets and not budgets that were already earmarked to help people.

Kenna is already planning a second climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, and Maggie Mason, the original Mighty Girl, has agreed to climb with him, joking that she was going to head to the treadmill immediately to begin training. Of course she'll have all of us Mighty Campers on the internet cheering her on.

Next up is Lisa Congdon. She was the final speaker at Camp Mighty and her talk focused on how she radically changed her career path, transforming herself into a successful commercial artist in just five years.

Previous Camp Mighty Talks are Brian Piotrowicz, Evany Thomas and Buster Benson.