Kabeyun’s Special Relationship with Lake Winnipesaukee

by Laura Remington /
Kabeyun’s Special Relationship with Lake Winnipesaukee

It is always an exciting day for Kabeyun and boys summer camps nearby when “ice out” is declared on Lake Winnipesaukee. “Ice out” is that moment when the ice that has covered the lake all winter breaks up enough for the M/S Mount Washington to safely cruise among its ports in Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith, and Wolfeboro. It is a sure sign of spring, the unofficial start of boating season, and a signal that Kabeyun boys will soon be back on Lake Winnipesaukee for swimming, sailing, canoeing, fishing, and more.

Seasonal traditions like “ice in” and “ice out” remind us of the special relationship camp has with New Hampshire’s largest lake. For nearly a century, Winnipesaukee has provided Kabeyun campers with endless enjoyment, from relaxed dips in the cool water to the excitement of wake surfing behind our ski boat. In turn, Kabeyun strives to protect the lake and the land around it, hewing to the vision of camp’s founder and first director, John Porter.

“Originally, in John Porter’s mind, he was buying land in the total wilderness. Not as we see it today. There were very few private houses,” explains Bill French, a long-time counselor, camp historian, and trustee of the Porter Foundation.

Porter founded Kabeyun on its current site in 1924 to provide a wilderness setting while allowing campers to have safe interactions with the environment. He wanted each cabin at his boys summer camp to have a view of the lake and the mountains -- but he also sought to preserve the feeling of wilderness by nestling the buildings among the trees. Kabeyun has honored that vision as we constructed new facilities. Even today, trees hide most of our buildings from view from the lake, so that many boaters “see it as one of the last portions of undeveloped land” on the lake, according to French.

In addition to providing a safe but exciting environment where boys can challenge themselves, Porter saw Kabeyun as an environmental steward – a legacy camp continues in all our decision-making and as a member of the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

“The quality of the water is very important to us,” explains French, highlighting camp’s efforts to reduce or eliminate any damaging runoff. “We are very careful about the water supply and our septic system. We’ve been very proactive about any kind of grassy area that we have, we do not use any chemicals on it,” he notes. Kabeyun also hired engineers to plan and install a new drainage system a few years ago. “It starts up by the Lodge and comes down underneath the Junior Ballfield and out into the Nature Cove. That’s all very environmentally correct,” French explains.

After a long, cold winter, the “ice out” declaration is cause for celebration – celebration of spring’s arrival and that campers from Kabeyun and other boys summer camps will be pouncing in the lake again soon. It is also a reminder to celebrate Kabeyun’s special, 96-year relationship with Lake Winnipesaukee, both enjoying and protecting it.

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