Helping Shape Kabeyun's "Enduring Culture"

by Laura Remington /
Helping Shape Kabeyun's "Enduring Culture"

After a hiatus due to COVID, Kabeyun’s counseling intern program returned in 2022 and is set for another great summer in 2023 with an experienced teacher, camp professional, and outdoorsman as its guide.

Jason Knight spends a tremendous amount of time with adolescents and young adults. He has three teenage sons and is in his nineteenth year teaching middle school science in Maine. He’s also spent the past seven winters as a ski technician at Lost Valley, a small, community-based ski area where his boys learned to ski and ride.

“It’s not unlike camp,” Jason says of working at Lost Valley. “There is a small handful of adults and most of the place is run by high school kids.”

Jason first came to Kabeyun as a college student in 1992 and has returned periodically ever since. He has taught archery, nature, and woodshop, as well as led hiking and rock climbing trips. He directed the counseling intern program once before, in 2006, and in 2021 served as a resource counselor supporting young staff members and helping camp run smoothly.

Jason recently spoke with Laura Remington.

JK: In the 30 years since I first came to Kabeyun, I have seen this enduring culture. It’s not about any one person. I think about who was at camp when I first came who’s still there: Terry Dash, Bill French, Jeff Keubler. I think that’s it. There’s this culture of respect toward everybody, a sense of equality. The staff is there, sure; they are teaching you how to do stuff. But they are not being held apart the way a school staff often is. I think [that culture] only comes about through conscious effort. If you leave it to the still-developing brain of a 17 year-old who is newly on staff, it’s not likely to come across.

LR: Yes, I’d say the Kabeyun culture feels organic, but it’s actually very intentional. We show the interns, step-by-step, week-by-week, how to be a leader in that culture.

JK: Right, it’s a curriculum. Everything from how to structure a lesson to interpersonal things: dealing with shy kids, challenging kids. How to relate with kids who are different ages. How do you de-escalate conflict? How to you build a cabin community ahead of time to minimize conflict that might come up? That whole process of figuring out what you’re trying to accomplish [during an activity period], how to fit that into a certain block of time, how to make it so it’s enjoyable and there is some sense of accomplishment for the kids and keep it fun for yourself -- it’s not a thing that you just wake up and do! It takes some help on the way.

LR: And you’re the guy to help!

JK: Well, I feel like I am kinda good at my job as a teacher, even more so than when I lead the intern program in '06. Teaching is hard.

LR: How about when you’re not at camp? I know you love to ski in the winter and mountain bike the rest of the year, especially in Vermont and Maine.

JK: Yes. And like anything involving sports, Kirsten [Berggren, Jason’s partner and a Kabeyun nurse] is way better at it than I am!

Jason Knight lives in northern Maine with his three sons and two rescue dogs. He studied Wildlife Biology at the University of Vermont and the genetics of hibernation at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Previous Article The View from the White Board: Choose Your Own Adventure
Next Article Cabin Life: Friendship, Growth, and Sometimes Discomfort