How Many Weeks?

A long-time Kabeyun parent writes:

"We feel like 4 is short and 7-8 is too long at this point. Nathaniel also wants to attend a movie making camp in the city for two weeks. We also need a driving break between end of camp and family camp.

I was actually puzzled by the seven week option, but guess it had to do with school sessions? 4, 6, & 8 would have made more sense to me. I totally understand the hassle of comings and goings, for your part, so we can always do 4 again this year."

I'll try not to give you way more than you want/need to hear about Kabeyun session lengths, but I do want you to know that there are sound reasons to explain away your puzzlements. As you know, the second session has been a perennial challenge, with room to spare always, compared to the first. Years ago, in an effort to recruit new interest, we had an arrangement with John Harris where he would offer two weeks at Kabeyun as an extension to his camp program at Blue Bell - his day camp near Philadelphia. This evolved, along with the increased interest in shorter sessions in the culture, into the two-week introductory session for first-time campers. During the three years of recent funky enrollments I ended up playing around a lot with the two-week option. In the end, feeling the pressure to either carve up the Kabeyun summer into smaller pieces, or stay committed to the longer sessions, I made the decision a couple of years ago to stop carving. Two weeks is nothing in Kabeyun time and doesn't come close to being enough time to do what we promise to do with kids. So, Half Summer I became four-weeks ONLY; Half Summer II still offers the Intro., but with the strict limitation of age and one-time only. Two-weeks, with the transition for as many as 20 kids became two and a half when we pushed the transition to the weekend visiting day, thereby minimizing the impact on the camp. It also gave us a few more days! Then, when we shifted the opening and closing to the weekend, we saw an opportunity for further adaptations: a three-week intro., a shift of visiting day to the end of the session. Three weeks felt much better than two for the kids' experience and it is proving to be successful so far - a number of families, once I get them in conversation to explain why we really want the longer, uninterrupted experience for kids, see that there's not a lot of difference between three and four! Layered on top of all this has been the request, for years informally allowed as space was available in August, which it always is, for more time added onto the July session - the "six-week" option that started when we still had that two-week transition point in the second session. Not wanting anymore coming and going for the kids than is absolutely necessary, this has evolved into the Extended Stay - seven weeks now and that seems to be working, too!

You should be clear about the fact that it is not to prevent "hassle" for us that we are struggling to prevent the coming and going of a lot of different session lengths - clearly, if we opened it up it would benefit the bottom line - but we are trying to provide a certain experience within a certain culture that would be impossible with the coming and going. Other camps have succumbed and where they once were eight-week camps only like us, now offer many combinations of 2,3,4,7 and eight -week sessions. Sad, really, the way we carve everything up into sound bites. Even with the three-week and seven-week extended stay options, I am a bit fearful that we are seeing an erosion of the eight-week summer, but we're watching closely. My ideal is to some season soon drop the three-week option and return to either four or eight ONLY. It might end up as an unrealistic vision.

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