Joel Van Egbert: Thank You To A Hero


Joel Van Egbert dressed as Batman with his brother, Jordan, dressed as Robin

Dear Joel,


I have written you many times privately telling you how much I appreciate you. Generally it takes you forever to respond because you are busy being a great dad and spending your time where you belong: outside. However, I want to give you some public praise for two reasons:

  1. I want people to know the same great advice that you have given me.

  2. In order for people to understand who I am, they have to understand the people that made me who I am. You are one of many, but one of the most important ones.

You have been in my life for a long time in a lot of different capacities. You have been my camp director when I was a camper at Keystone Science School. You were one of my direct mentors when I was a counselor assistant in the following years. You were a distant friend in Ohio. And you became my manager when I was a counselor at Logan School of Creative Learning. Now you are a hero across the ocean that I think about frequently.


I think this was a decade of interaction between us, and throughout the decade your message to me never changed much. Sometimes your lessons were directly spoke, and sometimes your lessons were given by the example you set in your behavior. I will try to give you some samples of what I have learned from you in brief:

  • Be unapologetically yourself. Every person is a different flavor of tea. Some people will love our flavor, others will be indifferent to that flavor, and hopefully very few will hate the flavor. BUT if people hate our flavor, that is okay too.

  • Always look to push the limits of your comfort zone. This is the lesson you would say over and over again, and the message truly has never changed

These two lessons combined I think create a potent force to be reckoned with. If you can apply these two lessons to your life, you will truly be unstoppable. Most importantly, though, is that you will be happy.


Because of these lessons you have taught me, I feel I have reached levels of success I could never of had and I feel levels of joy and happiness that make everyday worth living. This is what makes you such an important mentor to me. I know that you always strove to be, not a superhero, but an everyday ole hero to your campers, and this is something you have surely accomplished. I can say without a shred of doubt: you are my hero!


Thank you Joel. I cannot wait for our paths to cross again. And I hope that everyone can find someone in their life like you.


I can't wait to see what our next "magic moment" will be.


Until We Meet Again,

John Knetemann


Joel at the head of the table for our end of summer counselor celebration (I'm bottom left looking away)

P.S. I got the idea of writing a thank you letter to a mentor from a list of blog ideas written by Bianca Bass in Medium. Thanks for the inspiration, Bianca!


Meet the Author : John Knetemann

From Denver, Colorado. Educated in Rapid City, South Dakota. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The most epic and daring content writer you will find on the east side of the Amstel... And sometimes the west side too. I am from the land of mountains, but now live in the land of very small hills and canals. Truly a native of the internet, I work with companies to build adventurous content, engaging social media identities, and addictively informative email campaigns.


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