A Sleepaway Camp in Salute of Service: Kieve-Wavus 2nd Annual Veterans’ Family Camp

Kieve-Wavus thanks our veterans with a free week with their families at Maine’s best summer camp.

Kieve's Women's Veterans WeekKieve-Wavus just hosted a distinguished group of campers: three week-long camp sessions of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and Vietnam, and a special fourth week of camp just for women veterans. These free Veterans’ Camp programs gave our veterans a chance to relax, reflect, and reconnect with their families in the tranquil Maine woods at Kieve Wavus camp in Nobleboro.

Kieve’s Leadership School staff and volunteers offered our guests a broad range of physical, creative, and healing camp activities such as rock climbing, snow shoeing, pottery and jewelry making, plaster casting, yoga, and massage. Some camp activities, such as PTSD focused acupuncture, were developed specifically with veterans in mind.

Evening camp activities celebrated local Maine entertainers eager to thank our veterans for their service. Magician Rick Bernard of St. George, jugglers Jason & Matt Tardy from Buckfield, and the Daponte String Quartet all performed during Vietnam veterans family camp.

We fed our veterans well, too. Each week the Pemaquid Fisherman’s Co-op prepared a delicious authentic Downeast Maine lobster bake cooked outside Pasquaney dining hall over a raging wood fire. Volunteer Sharon Morrison taught baking classes for our campers, filling the camp with the smells of fresh bread, pies, and cinnamon rolls baking for meals.

There was also plenty of time for veterans to relax and enjoy each other’s company at family camp.  Often veterans and their families could be found sharing a walk down a wooded path or sitting by the fire writing in a journal or reading a book. Joe, a Vietnam veteran said, “I take 15 prescription medications each day, four of which are just for my head to keep me calm.  I’ve felt a calm here at Kieve camp that I’ve never felt before, not even with medications.”

Kieve Vietnam Veterans Week Flag RaisingOver the course of these camps many stories were told that remind us how much our veterans and families have sacrificed.  One veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan was deployed for three years of his five-year-old child’s life and missed the birth of his second child.  The gift of time with his family, teaching his children how to snowshoe and ice fish, is something that he will never take for granted and never forget.

A final evening Closing Circle marked the end of each camp. As each participant offered their final thoughts from camp, a few of the Vietnam Vets teared up in silence, until one veteran spoke for the rest.  “We’ve never asked for anything or complained about the way we were treated when we came home, but this is the first time that anyone has ever reached out to thank us.  I can’t begin to tell you what this means to all of us.”

Veterans Camps build on the tradition begun nine years ago with our 9/11 Camp—a tradition of Maine community members saying thank you with their donations and support. Thanks to The Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid for providing our veterans an excellent opportunity to build Shaker boxes, to The Daponte String Quartet for a peaceful evening of live classical music, and to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works for tours of their shipbuilding facility. Thanks also to The Pemaquid Fisherman’s Co-op, The Downeast School of Massage, Acupuncturists Without Boarders, Maine Sport Outfitters, Alan Baldwin of Artsake Framing, the juggling team of Jason and Matt Tardy, Magician Rick Bernard, for Flowers by Judy Doe and Louis Doe Hardware, and for the work of David Patch, Sharon Morrison, Donna Begley, Rev. Sarah Robbins-Cole and Father Frank Strasburger. Thank you to the counselors of the Veteran Centers of Lewiston, Sanford, Portland, and Bangor for their laughter, perspective, and professional guidance.

Kieve-Wavus would also like to thank all of the donors whose financial contributions allowed us to provide the Veterans Camp experience free of charge to those who have given so much to this Great Nation.

For more information about attending or supporting Veterans Camp at Kieve Wavus, visit our website.