The Blog of the West Wind

The Blog of the West Wind

Camper Profiling

Wednesday, January 27, 2010/by Chuck Mills/Go Back

A prospective parent wrote the other day, asking me to "briefly describe the profile of one of [our] campers."

My response: "Which one?!"

Because the Kabeyun program (philosophy, mission) focuses on the individual boy and the opportunity for him to expand his horizons - socially, personally, skill-wise - the benefits can be accessed in as many ways as there are people types. At Kabeyun, we celebrate the generalist, the boy who is willing to step out of familiar territory and accept new challenges, face risks in an environment of caring support.

The boy who loves competitive team sports and experiences success in that context can discover different aspects of himself and take a break from the particular pressures inherent in the youth sports world. He can stretch himself in challenges at the ropes course, or out on cliff faces; he can broaden his self awareness by creating projects in pottery, or leather, playing music with others, or acting in a play. The opportunities are endless. Similarly, the boy with little interest in team sports, or awkward on the playing field, can find success in any number of ways. The boy who loves books will find the company of other readers; the boy who could care less about books finds that success in reading and academics isn't the whole picture. The shy boy finds himself in a community that does not pressure him to be something else; the extrovert has ample outlets for his enthusiasms.

I've always thought of Kabeyun as a place for all boys, regardless of interest and experience; a beneficial experience for all boys, regardless of background. But it is only through being asked questions like the one above that I am able to test my thinking on such beliefs. One would have to be at camp with the boys to really understand how deeply they feel this sense of place. Though it is easier for some to articulate than others, what we so often hear them say is that Kabeyun is a place where they feel safe to be themselves. They know they can try new things and fail and fall without fear of ridicule; they know that they can try something and decide that it's not for them. Every fiber of our being is centered on encouraging them to try something new, whether an activity they've never signed up for, or a social strategy with their peers. They can hardly escape the urge to branch out and feel around the edges of who they think they are, and who they want to be. And in doing so, they come to know themselves a little better, and gain a stronger sense of their place in the larger world.

There is no single sound-bite profile/summary of the boy who comes to Kabeyun. There are as many profiles as there are boys.