I first heard about Kieve from a neighbor, Bobby Nichols. Bobby Nichols, Ben Chapman and I were cabinmates and we kept in touch all our lives.
To get to camp, I took a train from Boston, MA to Portland, ME in 90F degree heat and no AC. I changed trains again in Portland and arrived closer to camp. You knew you were “there” when the train stopped at a crossroads. We were picked up there by car and driven the rest of the way to camp. Back then we spent eight weeks at Kieve and we didn’t do laundry! Most of the time we swam sans swimsuit, unless Aunt Harriet or other mothers were around on pick up day. It was a different time.
I learned quickly to bring a mosquito net to camp. There weren’t any screens on bunk windows and we needed the windows open at night because it was so hot. I was eaten alive without mosquito netting. I didn’t forget it the next year. One of my favorite things about camp was the obstacle course: we’d swim out to the floats and back and the last part of the race was to whistle a tune after eating a cracker. It’s hard to whistle with a mouth full of crumbs! My other favorites were riflery, baseball, swimming and capture the flag. We also used to race from the bottom of the hill to the Top of the Hill and down to the waterfront. You’d never seen so many skinned knees. One summer, I got mild chicken pox while I was at camp. The only time I used to get homesick was when we sent a post card home that first day after we’d arrived at camp safe and sound.
In 1946 our trip was to Canada. We spent 3 of the 8 weeks out in the wilderness paddling the rivers and lakes. We took a train from Portland, ME to St. Johnsbury, VT. A train from St. Johnsbury, VT to Montreal, QC. A train from Montreal to Mont Laurier and from Mont Laurier we hired a truck (but not on Sunday) into to the wilderness. We’d rent canoes from an outfitter. Canoes were 135lbs! We’d used a tump strap (tump line—before yokes) to carry the canoe. The stern paddler portaged the canoe, solo. You would look for a tree with low branches for a rest—you did not want to set that down and pick it up again!
The first night one of our cabinmates had trouble with immigration so we spent the night in an old barn. We got everything squared away the next morning and we were off on a grand adventure. We’d fish a lot for our meals. That summer we caught wall-eyed pikes, bass; we caught one Great Northern Pike – 38 inches! We ate beans, potatoes, the fish that we caught, toast and jam. We picked berries—the raspberries that summer were amazing. We made our first bannock (baked dough in a reflector oven) with the berries. We had lots of fun shooting the rapids. That was the best. Lots of portages and lots of blown out tires getting back to the train station. But it was all worthwhile, even in the heat because we got ice cream and went for a swim.
Kieve taught me valuable life lessons. One of them was from Don Kennedy, whom I respected a great deal. He taught me to listen. We used to talk with our counselors in the afternoons. They’d pick a topic and we’d just talk. Those boys were everything—I’ve never forgotten about my time at Kieve or the people. Even though I am 86 going on 87, my memories always come back. That time in my life was darned great! – Ned Almy, August 2018