The Blog of the West Wind

The Blog of the West Wind

The View from the White Board: The Enduring Flame

BY ELIOT GOLDING

Wednesday, March 16, 2022/Go Back

The View from the White Board: The Enduring Flame

In my last blog, I talked about how camp in the late fall still retains a powerful echo of the summer, but right now at Kabeyun things feel very different. 

As I write this, camp resembles a winter wonderland: the snow is piled high in all directions, the lake is frozen, and the traffic circle between the office and the dining hall is nothing if not an ice skating rink -- making getting into and out of my car quite an adventure! 

These past few months weren't my first exposure to Kabeyun in the winter, as I’ve attended several of our off-season Winter Gatherings, once even braving a walk out on the ice across Small Cove to stand where the moorings usually reside. But as I’ve come to be more familiar with camp at this time of year, it's the calm and stillness of the place that really stands out: Kabeyun seems to be, for lack of a better term, hibernating.  

Of course, camp never truly hibernates: we’ve been hard at work planning for next summer and beyond, enrolling campers and putting together our staff. But out and about on the property, all is quiet on the Kabeyun front -- for now. 

The other day, as I braved the snow and cold to take a walk around the property, I found myself following the lakeside trail which winds past the Gnats cabin, the Health Center, and the Leather and Pottery shack to spend some time enjoying the view across Lake Winnipesaukee from Porter’s Dock. 

Porter’s Dock sits just below the site of our Charcoal Ceremony fire, where we greet each incoming session of campers and where, four weeks later, we say goodbye to them. At each of those closing fires, before handing out the charcoal packets which each camper and counselor brings home with them, Ken speaks about the ‘fire of Kabeyun’ that each one of us carries inside ourselves, and which smolders down to its embers while we are away until bursting forth with fresh kindling when we next return to camp. 

Standing in front of the snow-covered fire ring, I could hear Ken’s words in my head and as I stood among the snow drifts, it seemed like the renewal of that Kabeyun fire was very far away indeed. 

After a moment, though, I realized that wasn’t really true. Yes, it may not seem like it, but the summer of 2022, will be here soon. In a few short months -- just over 100 days from now! -- camp and the lake will have both fully thawed out and we will once again have our full complement of campers and staff all following that same old winding trail down towards Porter’s Dock, ready for the next reignition of the Kabeyun fire to mark the start of another summer of fun, friendship, growth, and adventure. With the return of Family Camp this year, we’ll also be able to welcome back a wide range of our community who haven't been able to be at camp for several summers now. Although there is no Charcoal Ceremony for Family Campers, their return is as much of a relighting of the Kabeyun fire as the ceremony we hold on the opening days of our two summer sessions.   

So hold onto your charcoal -- literal and metaphorical -- for just a little longer, and soon you too can return it to our fire. I can’t wait for that magic moment, and I hope you’ll be there with me for it!     

Eliot Golding is Kabeyun's Assistant Director.