LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
What a summer it was! In just 52 days, 1,191 campers in 107 cabin groups made lifelong memories at Kieve and Wavus, building inseparable bonds in the Maine wilderness, while 261 counselors, directors, and staff members gave all they had to help those campers grow more independent and resilient.
At the end of August, we capped Wavus’s 100th anniversary with a fantastic centennial celebration, during which we made a collective commitment to honor our history by looking toward the future. As I outlined in the spring issue of this newsletter, KWE’s committed to growing more diverse, more accessible, and more intentional as we prepare our campers, counselors, students, and educators to contribute to the world beyond Damariscotta Lake. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll read about KWE’s efforts to become more expansive in whom we serve as we lay the foundation for the next 100 years.
As I reflect upon our past accomplishments and consider how to achieve our future goals, I find myself returning again and again to the most important part of our camps: the counselors we entrust to lead our children. Our staff create that camp magic you hear about all year long. They make Jewell and Pasquaney feel like rock concerts during announcements after meals. They listen while managing cabin conflicts, and they console homesick campers. They model perseverance on the Mud Pond portage, motivating everyone to push through more muck and adversity than they thought possible.
Summers spent at Wavus and Kieve are transformational experiences because of the counselors who work here. But too often I hear from our counselors they can’t come back next year because of a nebulous pull to the so-called “real world.” I can’t help but wonder why. No Fortune 500 internship teaches the persuasion skills learned by convincing a cabin of second-graders to enjoy spending an hour cleaning their cabin for Sunday inspection. No manager anywhere demands their summer intern meet expectations as high as those set by our directors. What is more “real world” than safely executing a multi-resupply, three-week wilderness trip for a dozen 16-year-olds? I haven’t met a successful alum who regrets their choice to spend one more summer here. If anything, they point to camp as a major contributor to their professional achievements.
KWE’s success is a reflection of those who work here. It is our counselors who influence the leaders of the future. So, I ask: How do we support the success of those who enable ours? How do we lift up our talent and help them feel confident in the decision to hone their professional skills at these incredible camps? We rally around them with our greatest asset: our community.
We’re building a network of folks who know a KWE resume is worthy of pulling to the top of the stack. Please join me in helping our staff and alumni put their KWE experience to work in careers about which they are passionate. If you’re in a position to offer career help in any field, please reach out to my email ([email protected]) or my LinkedIn.
We know our programs enable our future, and both will grow even stronger when we not only attract but also retain an exceptional and diverse cohort of leaders, much like those counselors so many of us emulated when we were campers. I’m excited to work with you so our children keep learning from the best role models out there, including a few more who feel empowered to return to Kieve and Wavus for one more unforgettable summer.