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Try saying the letters K-B-N, all in a row. Or, Kay-bee-yun.
In its infancy, Kabeyun was known simply as "Mr. Porter's Camp," after our founder. As the story goes, John Porter's mother disapproved of his lack of imagination and encouraged him to adopt the name Kabeyun, which is referred to in a stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem "The Song of Hiawatha."
"Honor be to Mudjekeewis!"
With a shout exclaimed the people,
"Honor be to Mudjekeewis!
Henceforth he shall be the West-Wind,
And hereafter and forever
Shall he hold supreme dominion
Over all the winds of heaven.
Call him no more Mudjekeewis,
Call him Kabeyun, the West-Wind!
Recent research confirms what we and other same-sex programs have known all along: boys and girls learn differently, and have different social needs. Boys at Kabeyun find themselves in an environment where an entire layer of social complexity is removed, allowing them to maintain their focus on the reasons they are at camp: to learn new skills, accept new challenges, try new things and make solid friendships.
Yes, we are!
Kabeyun is accredited by the American Camp Association. A central tenet of our philosophy and approach is an ongoing process of self-examination; monitoring our performance and standards, and adjusting our behaviors based on new information and shifting circumstances. The proof of our approach can be seen every day at camp – in the smiles of our boys, the high expectations we hold for one another, the quality of our facility, our careful attention to safety, and at the end of each season in parental satisfaction surveys.
On the contrary, a month is just long enough, due to our emphasis on relationship building and skill development. A month gives boys the flexibility to settle in and enjoy a more deeply felt and rich experience. We feel that a week or two is only enough time for entertainment, an experience which serves only as an introduction; a month allows boys the chance to establish enduring friendships and develop substantive relationships with counselors, and to explore activities and develop skills that will last a lifetime. A month gives them the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be a member of a community, from the cabin group to the camp as a whole.
Our Introductory Sessions are one-time opportunities for younger boys ages 12 and under attending for their first summer, lasting 2 weeks. In recent years, between 15 and 20 boys stay for the whole summer.
Our camp blog explored the question of "How many weeks?" back in 2007, and our take on that hasn't changed! Read it here.
Missing home may or may not be a part of his experience. The feeling associated with missing home does not affect every boy, and as parents, our fears over the possibility is not necessarily an accurate predictor. However, for a few boys each summer, it is a real occurrence that threatens their ability to get the most out of the camp experience. If it does arise, it is usually within the first few days of camp, and seldom lasts more than a few days. We work closely with each boy, communicating among ourselves regarding the best ways to keep him on a positive track; reaching out to him in countless ways to keep him focused on the reasons he’s here. We acknowledge the reality of his feelings, share our own experiences, and proceed to work on it as we would any problem: we discuss alternative solutions, choose a few together, make a plan and a commitment, and follow through with consistent support.
In order to preserve a solid four-week experience for the boys, we look at the departure days as the time for the boys to share their camp with their families. For years at Kabeyun we scheduled a visiting day at the three-week point each session, but over time realized that it created real travel, not to mention financial, challenges for parents, a sense of obligation to visit whether there was a felt desire or not in the mind of parent or child, and a dramatic interruption in the boys' camp experience. It was also very difficult for a good number of our younger campers.
Time goes by too fast as it is at camp! Now, the boys have the opportunity for an uninterrupted four weeks to settle, connect and explore.
Yes. The Porter Foundation makes awards each year to families who demonstrate the need. Assistance ranges from the full tuition to a few hundred dollars. The deadline for application is mid-April; decisions are made in early May. For more information, check out the Tuition Assistance page.
No. We do gather every Sunday morning, when the entire population is in camp, for a community circle at our Pine Point, a beautiful site under towering pines on the lakeshore. There we share thoughts, reflections, stories, readings along the lines of a different theme each week – tolerance, taking risks, world travel, overcoming fear, the importance of friendship, the Kabeyun experience, community, etc. These gatherings are led by a counselor or two, sometimes with the help of a few campers, and always include time for open comment and sharing. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and reflective time each week when we all come together to feel connected as a whole.
Absolutely. We facilitate close and careful communication among the counselors, the camp nurses, the chef and baker, and your family to make sure each boy’s needs are met. Our kitchen is used to working with the kids to provide alternatives, and communicating with them about particular meals. Sometimes it means that you need to provide some special foods to supplement our efforts. We have a solid base of experience and knowledge of food allergies and continue to strengthen our approach to the variety of challenges we face each summer.
Every day, after breakfast and again after lunch, we post and review a list of the available activities at the front of the dining hall and the counselors get up one at a time to give a description of the lesson planned. The boys raise their hands to be chosen. The counselors at the tables are integrally involved with the choice process, checking with campers regarding their goals and desires, helping to make sure they are chosen for the activities they want, and helping to facilitate communication with other counselors.
Instructors take attendance for each activity period and the attendance information is compiled weekly for use by cabin staff on Sundays. We have a complete record of each boy’s activity attendance at the end of every week. We use this to ensure that the boys are taking full advantage of all we have to offer. It is a helpful tool for staff in their support of the boys.
Every fabric of our being is centered on encouraging boys of all ages to try new things, from new sports to new foods and reaching out to make new friends.
Kabeyun’s founder John Porter always said, “You can choose to do anything you want, but you can’t choose to do nothing.” Today, we use the same response. However, the one activity we do require of all boys is swimming. We ask that they take 3 lessons per week (11 for the month) until they pass out of the Red Cross Level 5. We do offer advanced levels, but the requirement ends after Level 5.
No! Sometimes a counselor might run a session for more experienced campers, and if they do they'll also offer a session for guys who've never tried it. Likewise, some days an activity might choose only older campers, in which case another session will be offered for younger campers. All the activities are for all the boys.
We emphasize sports and activities which are, by nature, non-competitive, as well as a broad selection of creative arts. We have a strong tennis program that includes exciting tournaments and ladder matches; basketball and ultimate Frisbee or soccer games, and spirited badminton matches. We emphasize the value of working hard when competing; winning and losing with grace, supporting one another with a cheer or a pat on the back at the end of each game. Boys have a chance to compete at their own level and with boys of different ages. Mostly, we believe in competing with ourselves – finding new ways to stretch and expand our skills in the process of becoming the best we can in whatever we do.
No! What little we know of this phenomenon we recognize as divisive and exclusive, and running, therefore, counter to fundamental Kabeyun values.
Evenings after dinner the boys gravitate to one or another supervised activity area: badminton courts, the ball field, the waterfront, basketball court or the Lodge for music or ping pong. It is also a time for friends to get together to play games of their own devising, build forts in the woods, or plan a special event for their cabin. Cabin groups often enjoy a campfire together, making s’mores and taking an evening dip in the lake. At bedtime we end the day with a story before lights out.
Yes! Out-of-camp adventure trips in hiking, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, wilderness canoeing and fishing are a popular part of our program. Trips in all disciplines are available to all ages and abilities.
Each Sunday, our trip leaders gather to plan a new schedule of outings for the week ahead. They create a menu of beginner, intermediate and more advanced experiences with a balance of one or two day trips and excursions up to 6 days long. Some boys choose a lot of trips; some hardly any. Skill instruction is an integral part of every outing, and boys have the opportunity to progress towards more challenging trips in each activity as they go.
The vast majority of our staff each summer are returning from previous years. Many of them grew up here as campers and participated successfully in our counseling intern program for 16-year-olds. While we usually have 5 or 6 17- and 18-year olds on staff, most of our counselors are in their twenties – college undergraduate and graduate students. We create an effective balance with several experienced teachers and young families as well. Of a typical staff of 40 activities counselors, we rarely need to hire more than 5 or 6 who are brand new to Kabeyun. We also enjoy having several international staff on board. We rely on word-of mouth to recruit new staff and advertise only sparingly.
It is rare that a new counselor doesn’t come to us through a Kabeyun connection, a friend or family member of current staff or alumni. In each instance, we conduct personal interviews, check several personal and work references and conduct police background checks on all new staff. For international staff we work with Camp Counselors USA (CCUSA) and Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), exchange agencies specifically serving this purpose. We rely mainly on their interview and background check process and supplement with a personal phone interview before hiring.
The program for instructor training workshops we offer in June before the camp season has increased our ability to ensure that staff are well-qualified instructors in their respective activity areas. Swim instructors are certified as Water Safety Instructors; sailing counselors are certified as Small Boat Instructors through US Sailing or the American Sailing Association; the archery instructor is a National Archery Association Level I instructor; Canoe and kayak instructors are certified by the American Canoe Association. Even without a formal certification, our instructors need to be experts in their areas, with a solid base of experience and technical knowledge. Every season during our staff training week, we all participate in workshops dedicated to learning effective instructional techniques.
There are typically three counselors in each cabin, plus a counseling intern in each of the younger cabins. The youngest three or four cabins are home to just 5 or 6 boys, still with three counselors; most of the remaining cabins house 9 or 10 boys.
Absolutely. We feel the presence of talented women as counselors and instructors adds a valuable sense of balance to our camp community. The women we hire, usually 4 or 5 each summer, are college age or older, and come to us through members of the Kabeyun community. We also feel that accepting women on the staff expands our ability to hire the best possible talent to work with our boys. They are positioned in the youngest cabins, and though fully integrated into cabin life, maintain separate living accommodations.
We recognize these behaviors as a very real problem for a number of our boys during the school year, and therefore make them a focus of our pre-camp training for staff. We share the latest research and work hard to raise awareness of how to recognize indicators, then equip counselors with the tools necessary to address them if they arise. In general, addressing these challenges fits into an overall approach to management that includes conflict coaching, problem solving and consensus building. It is our firm and passionate commitment to protect the safety, both physical and emotional, of every boy in our care.
There is no greater concern at Kabeyun than safety.
Nearly all of our staff are Lifeguard certified, and many of our counselors also hold certifications in emergency medicine. All water activities are supervised by Lifeguards; all trips staff are both Lifeguard certified and hold a Wilderness First-Aid certification as a minimum. Several hold the more advanced Wilderness First-Responder certification.
Any time a camper is in a boat, for any reason, he wears a life jacket; no camper is ever in the water unless supervised by a lifeguard on staff.
We have a Registered Nurse on duty at all times. Additionally, we work closely with a pediatrician in Wolfeboro for office visits and standing orders. The nearest hospital is also in Wolfeboro, 10 miles away.
We have an intra-camp communication system that connects the office, roaming directors and the nurses utilizing walkie-talkies, plus two-way radios used on the boats and on the waterfront.
First-Aid kits are present in most activity areas, including basic kits in each cabin.
Our overall desire is that the boys maintain a strong focus on the experience of camp – learning new skills, making new friends, having fun, learning how to live in a small community – and therefore strive to minimize distractions from these goals by restricting access to electronics of any sort.
The camp phone rings in the dining hall and boys sometimes receive calls at mealtimes on special occasions or in the event of some important family matter. Boys do not have access to the phone for calls out of camp – they are encouraged to write letters, required, in fact, to write home at least once a week.
Campers do not receive e-mails, nor are they able to send e-mails. Exceptions are made for international campers.
The bathroom houses, four of them, are located close to clusters of three or four cabins, well-lit at night. The boys know they can wake their counselor at any time for any reason, including a trip to the bathroom.
Each boy has his own area with a bed and a set of shelves. All luggage is unpacked into shelves and the luggage stowed. Cabins are roomy and airy with good screen doors and a screened window at the head of each bed.
Boys learn to take care of their home by pitching in to clean up the cabin every day after breakfast. Everyone is involved in maintaining common areas as needed. At the meal table they take turns serving and cleaning up.
Bedwetting is not an unusual occurrence at camp, and his counselor will work with him to manage it as he would any other challenge, being sensitive to the possibility of stigmatizing fallout among his peers. Extra sheets are always available and counselors work quietly with the boy to access clean linen, wash and dry the soiled sheets and keep moving. The nurse is apprised of any recurring issues, and we work closely with parents to address a chronic problem.