LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Thirty-plus years ago, my dad returned home to run what was then Kieve Affective Education. I was two, and my sister Blair had just been born in January. By then, this place had long been home to an undeniable magic. Generations of campers had grown up on Damariscotta Lake, forging a lasting attachment to their camp through experiences led by a staff of exceptional role models, each with a knack for sharing Kieve’s magic with the world. And in 1990, taking over after his father Dick’s three decades of stewardship, Henry dreamed we could do more.
In that spirit, as I begin my first summer as executive director, I can’t help but recognize some symmetry between my dad’s experience and my own. Our daughter Stella just turned two, Sarah and I welcomed our son Martin in January, and Kieve Wavus Education remains a place filled with wonder for generations of campers, counselors, and educators. And, like my dad, I know we can do more.
So where do we dream from here? It’s time to think about what it means to get a Kieve Wavus education. We owe it to those who’ve built KWE to dream big, to do so responsibly, and to set a foundation for the next 100 years. Following a long era of growth, our camps have reached capacity and, to remain good stewards of our environment, we shouldn’t grow our programs’ numbers. Fortunately, there are other ways that we can grow to share more KWE magic.
We can grow more diverse, reaching new KWE families and communities from near and far, so our programs better reflect our world, enriching every camper’s experience. We can grow more accessible, increasing financial aid available for KWE programs. We can use technology (not during camp!) to introduce many more students and teachers to KWE’s experiential approach to social-emotional learning. We can train educators at The Leadership School so when they leave KWE they’re equipped with teaching tools and strategies and the Department of Education certifications they need to succeed in any Maine public school. And we can formalize our growing alumni network to connect our staff with mentors and jobs, paving the path from cabin row to career.
Our dreams for KWE are aspirational, but in 1990, so were my dad’s. He dreamed of a girls camp that could offer the same transformative adventures as Kieve. In 2005, the dream was finally realized when Kieve Affective Education merged with the Wavus Sarah, Martin, Sam, and Stella Kennedy. The future’s so bright Marty can’t even stand it! Foundation, uniting two storied camps on Damariscotta Lake to form Kieve Wavus Education. This summer marks 100 years since Wavus was founded, and as we celebrate this centennial, it’s exciting to imagine our future.
So, yes, our dreams are aspirational, and we’ll need lots of help to realize them. Thankfully, we’re propelled by a team of dynamic young educators and experienced leaders, full of energy and wisdom. Our trustees—some of whom you’ll read about in this newsletter—share our vision. Their combined support, and yours, will carry KWE into this next amazing chapter.
It won’t be long before the campers return to the end of the point and top of the hill, filling cabins with laughter and cheers as kids reunite for the first time in a year. And when they do, we’ll empower them to work together, think big, and support this community and theirs beyond KWE.Sam Kennedy