The cabin group is a bit like a family unit at camp. Boys are organized by age and grade level and each group becomes a "band of brothers", living and playing together. They learn what it takes to live in community with others who may or may not share the same perspectives and backgrounds - truly one of the most lasting aspects of our four- or eight-week program.
The youngest three cabin groups, up to about eleven years old, are made up of six boys; the other nine cabins have ten boys. Regardless of the number of campers, each cabin is overseen by three counselors. The Kabeyun program is focused on the individual boys rather than contrived groups, but the cabin group is central to a boy's experience and there are plenty of shared experiences to complement a boy's individual pursuits.
Cabins will plan at least one outing together during the month - a day trip to swimming holes, or the beach; a light hike, or a combination trip of picking strawberries and swimming holes, something everyone can enjoy and a chance for the whole group to play together. We have several fire-rings in camp where cabins will go in the evening for s'mores and storytelling around the fire - a favorite treat for all. The warm summer nights see cabins gathered for evening dips before bed, and cabins will also be found volunteering to do some service for the whole community, from sweeping the dining hall, to throwing a party for the whole camp.
On Sundays, when there are no days off and no trips out of camp, the whole cabin is home and we have reserved time every Sunday morning for cabins to meet and play together. The group may have some special planning for a trip or event to do together, or they may have some problem-solving to engage in. Often, this time is spent playing together, making sure the connections among them are maintained. Lasting friendships are formed within the context of this group, adding to a boy's sense of connectedness, so important to their growth.
Another important community building time for us is when we gather in the Lodge on Saturday nights for a weekly show. Typically, the first show is Staff Night, when the counselors get up on stage to share serious talent, or, more often, something goofy to entertain the camp. We start with this so the boys can see that the Kabeyun stage is a safe place to step out and share of ourselves; the tone is supportive, positive and fun. Cabin Skit Night usually follows. Each cabin group gets together during the week to plan and practice an entertainment for the rest of us. Everybody participates, and it is always a fun night. The third Saturday of each session is when the Drama department stages The Play - a different production each month, from Shakespeare, to James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or a musical revue. The plays usually involve 20-30 boys of all ages, as actors and tech-crew.
The Music department also has its night each Wednesday when we are treated to Wednesday Night Live. Many boys bring their instruments to camp, from electric guitars, to fiddles, or cellos and saxaphones, and Wednesday nights are theirs. Garage bands emerge from out of the Kabeyun woods to perform and accomplished musicians and beginners alike show us their stuff.
At least once a month we have an all-camp bonfire on the beach in our Big Cove, a night of storytelling, and music with refreshments before a big fire with the night sky, Winnipesaukee and the distant White Mountains in silhouette as the backdrop. These shared experiences are an important part of our summers.
Sunday is the one day during each week when we are all in camp - a "home" day when we tend to a number of community-wide activities and when the usual schedule changes a bit. It is a sleep-in morning, with no reveille, There is a buffet breakfast and the boys have a couple of responsibilities: every boy takes a hot shower (they can take a shower any time during the week, but we KNOW they get one on Sunday) and then visits the camp nurse for a "tip to toe" health check. There are a number of informal activities available for those who want something specific to do, but many of the boys enjoy the relaxed feeling of not having to be anywhere in particular for a little while; some of the older boys like to use it as a chance to sleep in. A good number of boys are always up early to participate in the "Thunderbird Swim" marking the end of required swimming lessons for boys who pass the requirements of Level 5. Some boys swim every Sunday, just for fun!
Late in the morning we have an hour reserved for cabin groups to spend time together - they meet, discuss issues alive within the group, and play together. And then, before we head to lunch, we meet as an entire community for some reflective time on Pine Point. This gathering is lead by different counselors each week and focuses on a particular theme - world travel, accepting risk, facing fear, the difference between tolerance and acceptance, or why I love to hike or sail are just a few examples of possible topics. The counselors share readings, stories, thoughts, and extend the invitation to the whole group to share. And share they do. This is a very special time for our community, and though some of the guys focus more on building stick houses as they listen, many feel comfortable enough to stand and speak with the whole group.
On Sunday afternoons, instead of offering many different activities, the entire camp comes together to participate in one large, all-camp activity - Kabeyun Olympics or World Cup Soccer; camp-wide Capture The Flag or Staff Hunt. Sometimes there are brand-new additions to the lineup of all-camp activities, brought by new creative energies like the Builders' Challenge, featuring teams of campers building and launching rafts made entirely of milk cartons and tree limbs in small cove. Anything's possible when over one hundred campers and counselors come together!
The other thing that happens on Sundays is the announcements of trips for the week ahead. Boys need to engage in a bit of advance planning and decision making on Sunday - many boys are out of camp several days a week; others are more interested in staying close and taking advantage of the in-camp activities.