Wednesday, August 7, 2019/written by Laura Remington/Go Back
When a new camper signs up for Kabeyun, often his parents joke that they would like to sign up as well, or stowaway in their son’s duffel bag bound for our boys summer camp. The response is always the same – “Come to Family Camp!”
Family Camp offers Kabeyun families, friends, and other visitors a taste of the boys summer camp experience and an opportunity to connect with others who enjoy it. Family Camp started in 1973 as a casual celebration of camp’s first 50 years, with a few families coming to Kabeyun in late August. They stayed in the cabins, ate together in the dining hall, and each day would gather to decide what to do. Go for a sail? Hike up Mount Major? Relax on the dock with a good book?
Many of the original family campers still attend more than 40 years later. Kabeyun now hosts as many as 200 people during Family Camp’s two weeks, but the daily routine remains similar. Family campers gather in the dining hall three times a day for meals prepared by the kitchen staff. They still go sailing, hike Mount Major, or lounge on the dock between cool dips in the lake. Nowadays, many enjoy camp’s standup paddleboards, kayaks, fishing excursions, tennis courts, archery range, and guided adventures on the high ropes course. The water ski boat is one of the biggest attractions, taking family campers out to water ski, wakeboard, and wake surf all day long.
“It’s like a mini Club Med,” says Mary Merrill, who started coming to Family Camp 20 years ago with her husband, former camper Peter Thibault. In the beginning, she says, they went to see Pete’s old friends but they soon forged meaningful new friendships. “It’s really become a summer community for us, one that we look forward to seeing annually.”
This sense of community spans three generations, with Family Camp attracting visitors from infancy through their 90’s. In the evenings, many gather in the dining hall for multi-generational card and board games, or around a bonfire (complete with s’mores) in Big Cove. In these moments of swapping stories and singing songs, old relationships are rekindled while new ones develop among former and current campers, staff members, siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends.
Family Camp also has proven a wonderful introduction to camp for new families and new generations of existing Kabeyun families. For Mary, Family Camp meant both she and her son, Mac, were extremely comfortable heading into his first summer as a camper. “I had a preestablished trust, not only of the people who work at camp, but with the quality of the program and the facilities,” she says. “It was a wonderful way for Mac to build a feeling of community at Kabeyun before he was even a camper.”
And now that Mac is a camper, Family Camp has new meaning for his parents. “I love having him show us what he loves,” Mary says. “He brought us to the fort they built. He was so excited to do some sailing with us because he had gone on a sailing excursion. I love seeing camp through his eyes.”
You can read more about Family Camp and sign up here.
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