The View from the White Board: Reflecting on a Summer of Change

by Eliot Golding /
The View from the White Board: Reflecting on a Summer of Change

If, at any time before this summer, I’d been asked to write a Kabeyun blog the only logical title would have been "The View from the Waterfront." Small Cove had been my office ever since I began working for camp in 2008, as I was a Swimming counselor, then the Head of Swimming, and then the Head of the Waterfront. 

But it’s 2021, and this is "The View from the Whiteboard," because I’ve just finished my first summer as Kabeyun’s Assistant Director. As Assistant Director, my primary mandate during the summer was keeping camp moving forward on schedule, so I ran most of our all-camp assemblies and facilitated activity picking at breakfast and lunch almost every day. My new perch in front of the crowd not only produced the name for this column, but also allowed me to observe all of camp at a single glance.

So, what was the view from the whiteboard this summer? 

Yes, there were changes -- some big, some small. Meals were particularly impacted, as cabin groups ate together every day and we often used the picnic tables in Big Cove as an outdoor lunch spot throughout August. We also made good use of outdoor spaces (the Junior Ballfield and the tent on the Senior ballfield) for all-camp gatherings such as Cabin Skits, Staff Night, and Wednesday Night Live. Masks were a constant presence, both on faces and on the ground! Equally constant was the overwhelming feeling that camp was running smoothly and that we were delivering on all the aspects of a traditional Kabeyun summer. Yes, the summer was a few days shorter, and Covid protocols forced changes to our arrival and departure routines. But everything that makes camp feel alive -- our extensive trips department, our impressive array of in-camp activities, and most importantly of all, the joy that radiates from our campers when they are happily going about their days -- were in full force this summer.

Throughout the summer, I never tired watching countless interactions and moments play out -- from the look of eager anticipation when a camper’s favorite activity was announced, to the celebratory fist bump when a pair of friends got picked for the same activity, to the laughter rippling through a cabin’s table at particularly good joke, to the communal cheers when a counselor announced a new rating or other accomplishment.  All of those moments blend together to make camp such a special place for so many of us. It’s a set of experiences and emotions I hope we never have to go without again.

One of my favorite memories from this summer came from the opening day of First Session. As we all welcomed campers back onto the property (blissfully unaware of just how much rain we’d all be getting over the next four weeks!) I was circulating through Middle Camp and paused for a moment between the Chipmunks and Woodchucks cabins. Although we’d had the staff on site for a few days and the silence of the Alton Bay woods had been broken many times by our adult voices, there was something so incredibly powerful about hearing campers back in cabins for the first time in two years, laughing and joking with each other while making new friends and catching up with old ones. It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes, and is a memory I will long cherish.

The summer’s over now, and camp’s 90 acres have once again gone quiet as we head toward the heart of the offseason, but up in the office we’re hard at work planning for the summer of 2022 and beyond. We hope to see you there! 

Eliot Golding has been a member of the Kabeyun community since his parents brought him to Family Camp as an infant. You can read more about his work and Kabeyun's relationship with the American Camp Association here.

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