It is with profound sadness that I share Kabeyun’s decision to suspend our traditional camp program for the summer of 2020 due to Covid-19. As painful as this decision was to make, I am heartbroken to think of how this will affect you, your family, and our camp community. This will be Kabeyun’s first summer in our entire 97-year history with no campers. I am confident we have made the most responsible decision for the health and safety of our campers and their families, our staff, and the New Hampshire communities surrounding camp, though that does little to fill the void that a summer without camp leaves.
From this pandemic’s start, the Porter Foundation’s Board of Trustees and I have worked at little else than to find a pathway to open camp safely. We conferred with countless experts and organizations, including doctors, scientists, camps, associations, and government agencies, to pool expert science-based resources and develop a set of safety criteria. For months, we have pondered and debated how to operate safely and responsibly this summer, developing possible solutions, and then tackling the next set of questions which invariably arose. By mid-May, there were still far too many “unknowables” and it became clear that Kabeyun could not with confidence provide the safe and enriching experiences our campers deserve this summer.
As sorely as our campers and families need camp, as desperately as we all want camp to operate this summer, and as great a benefit it would provide, we must look ahead to being there for our campers next year, and the year after. Kabeyun will have a critical role to play in how our community recovers from this moment. Opening camp in a manner inconsistent with our dedication to safety and unfaithful to our commitment to choice, independence, and community living would be too at odds with our core values and John Porter’s guiding philosophy.
The process of arriving at this decision was excruciating for everyone involved. We have planned and prepared through the fall, winter, and spring to welcome, love, and challenge your children this summer. Our deepest heartache lies in losses that we cannot yet appreciate – adventures not taken, lessons not learned, and connections not made. The greatest gift Kabeyun has to offer are those experiences that guide boys toward discovery of their capacity for resilience, empathy, courage, and stewardship of the world around them. Those qualities that Kabeyun fosters are needed today more than ever.
The need for these opportunities will only grow as we move ahead, and our focus turns now to the future. All campers enrolled in any 2020 session will have a guaranteed spot at Kabeyun in 2021. You have the choice to roll tuition payments forward to the summer of 2021, turn them into a charitable contribution, or receive a refund. We’ll share a process for each of those choices in the coming days.
As a non-profit organization, Kabeyun relies on the generosity of our community members to help put our mission into action. Suspending camp this summer will have a dramatic impact not just on our operating budget for this year, but on our future enrollment and capacity for growth. There are myriad ways to support Kabeyun in its resiliency over the next several years, and we hope you will consider joining that effort.
Whether this would have been your fifth, 25th, or first Kabeyun summer, whether you are a parent, grandparent, alum, or friend, camp is always with you. You are part of this community, anchored by its experiences and values. We encourage you to stay connected as we craft new ways to engage with one another in 2020. As always, we welcome your ideas. To start, I invite you to join me for several “town hall” style meetings in the days and weeks ahead so you can hear directly from me, and I can hear directly from you.
The trustees, staff, and I are already looking to brighter days, our next summer, and the expectation that we will be together on the shores of Winnipesaukee again. Until that time, be well, and thank you for being part of the Kabeyun family.
We welcome the opportunity to talk, answer questions, and share the process that led to this point with our community. Below are several planned sessions for different parts of the Kabeyun family – if you'd like to join in please register for the appropriate session below. We'll add more dates and times as needed.
Monday, May 18 – 12:00 pm EST
Monday, May 18 – 7:00 pm EST
Wednesday, May 20 – 7:00 pm EST