Gifts of the Kabeyun Program
Kabeyun offers boys the chance to explore a wide variety of activities not typically available to them during the rest of their year. Through our completely elective program, campers choose daily from over 20 activities, including high adventure sports like white water kayaking and canoeing, rock climbing and hiking, sailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and waterskiing. We also expose our campers to more creative activities like woodworking, pottery, music, drama, and traditional camp activities like archery, ropes course, swimming, and fishing.
The atmosphere at Kabeyun encourages the growth of each boy's self-awareness and confidence in the context of community living. We work hard to balance attention to individual growth with the cultivation of a boy's sense of belonging within the group, whether in the cabin with his peers, on a trip, or at an all-camp assembly. We place a high value on developing problem solving and conflict resolution skills. By living closely together in our small community, boys learn to be positive and productive citizens, tolerant and understanding of the rights of others and respectful of individual differences.
Time and time again, we hear Kabeyun campers, staff and alumni refer to camp as "home," a byproduct of the strong sense of family and fellowship that we strive to maintain throughout the summer. Our overnight camp has seen the friendships made, lessons learned, and personal strengths discovered—these, we believe, are among the greatest gifts Kabeyun can provide.
Freedom to Choose and Play
Our day is divided into four instructional periods – two in the morning and two in the afternoon, plus several blocks of self-regulated free time and a rest hour after lunch.
Monday through Saturday, each boy chooses his activities twice a day, after breakfast for the morning, and after lunch for the afternoon periods. All activities are available to all boys regardless of age or experience.
At the end of the meal each instructor presents his or her plan to the entire group and boys raise their hands to sign up. Counselors are actively involved throughout the selection process, helping the boys to plan, and encouraging them to explore new challenges. Most boys sample from the entire menu of offerings, but this system also provides for the chance to focus on a particular area of interest.
Along with the freedom to choose we value balancing the more structured, supervised time of the activity periods with time for the boys to make decisions for themselves about how to spend their time. For an hour before lunch and again before dinner a boy may get together with friends and play a game of tag through the woods, pick up a game of tennis or badminton, throw a Frisbee or baseball. It may also be a time when he wants to return to his cabin to read or write letters, continue a board game or just spend time with cabin mates. A half hour of this time, both morning and afternoon, can be spent in the water at play swim if he chooses.
In the evenings, there are several places where counselors are on duty and boys may choose to go. They can take out a canoe or rowboat with a friend, practice skills learned earlier in the day, or watch the sun set from the dock. Every evening there is a large group game on our ball field – the perennial favorite is ultimate Frisbee, but the games can vary to include soccer, kickball, cricket, or sand volleyball. Our badminton courts are always busy in the evenings, as are the tennis courts, basketball court, and the Lodge, where many boys keep their musical instruments and gather to jam together or practice the piano.
We spend a good deal of time modeling and teaching problem-solving; particularly in the context of the cabin group that brings together boys from varying backgrounds, with a range of personalities. Our counselors are continually modeling the good listening and consensus building necessary to peaceful living. When there is a problem, we don’t merely sweep it aside hoping that it goes away. We talk through the relevant issues, making sure each person involved has a voice and is heard. This process teaches boys that problems are a real part of life and need not be ignored. It teaches the value of calm talk, of listening, and of the existence of different perspectives with equal weight to one’s own. Boys develop alternative problem solving strategies and conflict resolution skills in an atmosphere of support and safety.
Celebrating Success and a Sense of Accomplishment
There is a strongemphasis on instruction in all of our activities, in camp or out. We want the boys to have as much fun as a summer should hold, but we also want them to have the chance to learn skills that can enrich their lives beyond childhood. Almost every activity has a rating system that gives boys the chance to set short-term goals and experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with skill mastery. The project-oriented activities like photography, pottery and woodworking involve instruction during the process of carrying out the real work of the particular craft.
Time is spent at the end of every meal celebrating the accomplishments of individual campers. Counselors make announcements to the entire camp about successes large and small. The wood shop counselor holds high a box or a lamp completed that day; the swimming counselor announces that a boy made a successful dive for the first time, or completed the requirements for a particular level; we hear about a remarkable score on the Frisbee golf course, or a challenge met on the high ropes course. At these times the entire camp applauds a fellow camper’s success.
A key focus of the Kabeyun experience centers on the development of meaningful relationships, both among peers and with counselors who may range in age from 17 to 80. It is a part of our daily routine to provide plenty of opportunities for boys of different ages to mix. The small groups during activity periods are made up of boys with similar interests and abilities, rather than arbitrarily organized according to age. Not only does this allow boys to learn from one another, but it also opens up the possibility for friendships to develop among guys of varying ages. Many brotherly connections have developed over the years in which an older boy has the chance to assume the position of role model and guide, and the younger boy has the chance to find positive role models outside his own family.
Sense of Community
Small-group instruction and freedom of choice allows us to focus on the experience of the individual boy, but we also place a high value on encouraging his sense of community. From the cabin group, where he shares living space with nine other boys (four or five for the younger campers), to his participation with the entire camp, he learns what it means to be an important part of something larger than himself.
Cabin groups move through the days like a family group: waking together, working to maintain a clean cabin, regrouping at night after a day of going their separate ways. Additionally, the cabin group spends time together on cabin trips out of camp, evening dips in the lake, a special campfire for s'mores, or planning skits for performance on the Kabeyun stage.
Saturday evenings bring a change in routine for all as we head to the Lodge for talent or music night; cabin skits or a play. These are great times for boys to share talents and laugh together.
Sunday is a "home" day, with no days off for staff, and no trips out of camp. Along with cabin time in the morning and the all-camp activity in the afternoon, we also gather in a community circle at our Pine Point. Here campers and staff take turns leading our thoughts along a particular theme: the value of tolerance, or the importance of accepting new challenges; their love for nature, sailing or rock climbing; how Kabeyun has impacted their lives. The opportunity to share is offered to all and boys feel safe standing before the whole camp to share their thoughts and stories.