Kieve-Wavus Blog

Kieve’s Writers’ Conference

Ralph Sneeden — our Writers’ Conference Director

Ralph is at it again, doing what he does best… Take a look at the link below for his latest published creation…

Ralph was born in Los Angeles and grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts and Long Island. He has been teaching English since 1995 at Phillips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire, where he also directs the George Bennett Writer-in-Residence Fellowship and is the Continuing Professional Development Coordinator. He has also taught at the Pingree School and Lake Forest Academy. The title poem of his first book Evidence of the Journey (Harmon Blunt, 2007) received the Friends of Literature Prize from POETRY Magazine/Poetry Foundation and the book also received honorable mention for Washington and Lee University/Shenandoah Magazine’s Glasgow Prize.

Dear friends and family—

The Common (the folks who brought you “Django: Elegies and Improvisations with Small Boats”—bless them) has published my essay on surfing/drowning, etc.  It’s available in the print edition (handsome and desirable), but it just came out online, too:

Stepping Off: Confessions from the Littoral Zone | The Common

Each version has its own distinct and nifty set of photos (courtesy of the multi-talented Ike Fontaine, goal-oriented Jake Sneeden and Jesper— a Danish surf guru in Senegal).  Feel free to pass it on to any wave and/or surf-minded person in your sphere.  I’ve been encouraged by the editor to get the word out about both editions.



Posted in: All Camps, News |

Kieve Camper Life in the Early ’50’s

Fond Memories of KIEVE – Bob Bishop Kieve ’49-’52, Kieve Staff ’59-‘78 (photos from his staff years in the ’60’s)


We did not discuss courage, perseverance, and loyalty even during the campfires of song and well-told story, not even during the serenity of chapel. But we learned these values – soaked them up – during our young Kieve summers that we wished would never end. The impact of beauty among verdant hills and beneath azure skies throughout Maine, the challenge to take such risks as the island swim under the watchful and caring eyes  of men who seemed larger than life, the perspiration that lead to inspiration on far flung trips – all this helped us to grow up.


The ghosts of Pasquaney, Innisfree, and the flagpole remember -

  • Unparalleled leadership: Aunt Harriet and Uncle Don, Jim, Stokey, Don and Barbara, Dick and Nancy, Henry and BJ.

  • The continuing ritual of the council torch being passed such as: Bill McCook, Mike Westcott, Morrie Heckscher, Dick Koelle, and me to Fordy Stevens, Sandy Buck, Walter Morris, Tench Forbes, Shippen Bright, and Harper Sibley.

  • Campers in my 1959 Bunker Hill like: Jack Lanahan whose grandfather Scott Fitzgerald was the subject of my college senior thesis; John van Roden who was a trustee at my school and whose children I taught; Denny Emory who became the high seas skipper/navigator for my college roommate; Tom Ross who turned the tables on me in tennis before he was in college.

  • Savory food – fish and chips on Friday, flipped blueberry pancakes on Sunday, corn, clams and lobster on outings to Pemaquid Beach, final trip feasts on Harbor Island.

  • Canoe tilting and war canoe races at watersports.

  • Baseball/softball teams named for the Maine native American nations.

  • The often startling cry of the loons echoing among the coves of Lake Damariscotta.

  • Intense military style bunkhouse Sunday inspection to compete for an extra scoop of Round Top ice cream.

  • The precamp regeneration of the tennis courts from high weeds to hard clay.




Bob Bishop – Kieve ’49-’52, Kieve Staff ’59-‘78 (photos from his staff years in the ’60’s)

Posted in: All Camps, Alumni Stories & History, Camper Stories, Kieve Camp for Boys |

What you had to do for dinner back in the 50’s

A couple of Kieve stories and memories from William M. (Bill) Walker II (Kieve ’50 – ’56)


My father, Shelby S. Walker, attended Kieve in its first year, 1926. Subsequently, he was responsible for introducing “Uncle Don” to his older sister, Harriet, and she married Uncle Don in 1929. But this is the story of my father travelling from Birmingham, Alabama by train to Philadelphia to connect with the other boys going to Kieve. He was thirteen years old when he arrived at the old Broad Street Station in Philadelphia. Uncle Don immediately introduced him to the Koelle twins, Craig and Dick, as Shelby Walker from Birmingham, Alabama!! And the Koelle twins said, “Birmingham, Alabama, what do you eat down there?” Certainly, an interesting response to an introduction!

From the 1950 Kieve Annual.

south_glenayr_sandy_cove_1950_smlI was 8 ½ years old when I attended Kieve my first year in 1950. The story I remember most in all my years, 1950-‘56 as a camper and ’58-’59 as a councillor, occurred that year. We went on a four day camping trip to Sandy Cove. Since we were the youngest boys in camp, we were in South Glenayr and we travelled to the campsite in one of the war canoes.

About halfway through the trip, Jim Beighle, the camp director, arrived in the old motor canoe with a live chicken in a crate which was meant to be our dinner that night. Sometime later, Walter Trott, our head bunkhouse councilor and trip leader, removed the chicken from the crate and put his head on a chopping block and cut it off with an axe, and that headless chicken jumped off that block and rang right across the beach and about 10 feet into the water before it expired. The chicken was then plucked and cooked for dinner. Needless to say, it was quite a visual experience for an eight year old, and I didn’t eat much dinner that night. And one more thing about that first camping trip, for some reason we were served SPAM for over half the meals on the trip, and I have never touched it again!!!

I can say that I value my experiences at Kieve as much or more than any others in my lifetime.

Posted in: Alumni Stories & History, Kieve Camp for Boys |

Donald D. Kennedy Starts Realizing His Dream

In 1925, two years after graduating from Princeton, he was able to cobble together a little money to buy about 500 acres and 3 ½ miles of shoreline from several farm families and one defrocked Episcopalian minister who had exceeded his bounds as a missionary in Japan. In those days the land had remarkably little monetary value, but the farmers’ families had worked the land for generations and were reluctant to sell it. The defrocked minister who owned the top of the hill and lived a lonely life of remorse was now ready to return to civilization (The Racquet Club in Philadelphia). The minister led him to the West Neck of Nobleboro.

view from lake_new_1_1

Here was the perfect place where boys would become men in a manly way – no frills, few women, hardy and simple food, and straightforward emulation of the ethics of Teddy Roosevelt and Thoreau. These neo-Victorians like my father took child rearing seriously: cold cereal for supper, sleeping on cot beds without mattresses, etc. The object of athletics, trips, and daily life at Kieve was to build character in the campers so they could be leaders as adults. That has been our goal for almost 90 years at the same place under the direction of Donald D. Kennedy’s family.

Posted in: Alumni Stories & History, Camps, Kieve Camp for Boys |

Make the Most of your time at Kieve

Hello everyone, my name is Pierce Leonard. As some of you may already know this is my first summer here at Kieve. Many of you have been here for way longer. The fact of the matter is that your time spent at Kieve is irrelevant in order to understand and measure just how special of a place Kieve is. It is an impossible task to describe Kieve to others outside of Kieve, because there is no place like it in the world!

Let me tell you about my experience in how I found out about Kieve. A long time Kiever and good buddy of mine, Drew Lincoln, happened to go to the same college as me. The more Drew and I became friends, the more I realized that the word “Kieve” popped up in random conversations or he would join a conversation by saying ‘oh yeah, that’s kind of Kieve like” or “yea, I know that person through Kieve”. I asked him many times to explain his Kieve reference and when he would attempt to he would begin stuttering and would not be able to formulate a coherent sentence. I honestly thought the man had a problem and just couldn’t talk in public settings. That I am happy to report is not the case.

After graduating from college this past May I found myself not having a plan of action and no job lined up. Sure enough, one day a message from the good lord above came to me and I soon became an employee at Kieve for summer camp. Within 15 minutes I received phone calls from numerous friends who had gone to Kieve and were working at Kieve who were exasperated with excitement and hammered the message into my head that I was going to have the best summer of my life. And there I was dumbfounded, because I did not know what I was in store for.

To cut to the chase, upon my arrival here at the beginning of the summer and everyday since I have been in awe at how Amazing Kieve truly is. Many times during my first weeks here at Kieve I came to understand that there is no place on earth as unique as Kieve and there was no concrete way to explain it.

Kieve creates opportunities in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. Day in and day out this place challenges each person to be better than the day before with no added pressure, but rather a common understanding.  There are opportunities to climb a bit higher on the ropes course, opportunities to score higher in riflery, opportunities to make a new friend, just to name a few.  I, too, have learned more about myself and who I am as a person during my short time here than through any other experience in my life. 

Each day you have at Kieve you are changing more than you can understand. The values that drive the Kieve experience are being imbedded in you and making you a stronger and better person, whether you know it or not. 

PERSEVERANCE; every one of us has been here some time and has gone through each day with struggles and triumphs. The struggle may be coping with homesickness. It could be struggling with clay. Instead of giving up in pottery you keep trying and eventually you get better and more masterful of the craft. Or you start out not even knowing how to handle a bow and may miss every shot you take in archery, but soon enough you are getting  “quals”. For newcomers, this place challenges you to do the Island Swim that is a huge testament to one’s perseverance. Lets just say that when you’re here, you learn to persevere.

COURAGE. This to me is quite an obvious one as each of us go through each day challenged try new things or become better at things we have already learned to do. Courage is the willingness to come to Kieve and the want to stay here.  Courage is taking any opportunity and getting the most out of the experience. You may not know the first thing about woodshop or how to cast a fishing rod, but going into any activity and trying your best to learn is a tribute to your courage. Courage is also taking responsibility for your actions. No one is perfect, but it takes a courageous person to admit when they are wrong and to apologize.

LOYALTY. This is one of the most important values I have learned in my life and the way Loyalty is presented here at Kieve is by far the most powerful. I have been a part of teams and other organizations. But nothing comes close to the tight knit community here at Kieve. No other program is able to captivate young men’s minds to keep returning year after year. I have heard hundreds of times this summer that “you just gotta come back” and for that saying to be a reality with campers and staff alike is a tribute to the special place that Kieve is and the once in a lifetime opportunity that has been presented to you.

So, for the rest of camp I would like each and every one of you to be conscious of these three traits and to define what they mean to you. I also and most importantly want you all to examine and realize the amazing opportunity you have been blessed with to be here for a session this summer. I would like you to constantly remind yourself  everyday to motivate you to get the most out of this place. Because I can assure you that your time here this summer is going to fly by and I want all of you to leave this place with nothing but the fondness of memories and the drive to just come back.

Posted in: Kieve Camp for Boys |

When Passion Drives Education

Check out the new Bridge Year blog post by teacher Carolyn “Griff” Griffiths 

Posted in: Activities, Leadership School, News |

Educators in Residence

Seven Leadership School Educators and the mentors from the six schools where they will spend the winter gathered January 15th at the Kennedy Learning Center to kick off the Educator in Residence program by sharing school specific goals and strategies. Educators will be “in residence” for seven weeks this winter to support the integration of The Leadership School message and practices at Memorial Middle School in South Portland, King Middle School in Portland, Loranger Middle School in Old Orchard Beach, Nobleboro Central School, Boothbay Region Elementary School and Bristol Consolidated School.educators_in_residence_02

During the first week that Educators were in schools, one site mentor wrote to tell us,  “what a pleasure it has been this week to have Will here. . . he has already, in just 3 short days, proven to be a valuable asset to us.”

The assets that the Educators are bringing into schools will benefit the entire community long after the term of their residency.  Educators in Residence are providing a fresh perspective to energize and invigorate students and teachers alike.  While after school play clubs blossom, student to student anti-bullying workshops develop, and experiential techniques gain footholds in all disciplines, and relationships between Educators and students are grow strong, the mutual commitment between Kieve-Wavus and these six schools becomes ever stronger.educators_in_residence_05

Posted in: Activities, Leadership School, News |

New Year’s Evolutions

New Year’s Evolutions

They aren’t really New Year’s Resolutions, because they have been a long time in the making, and they aren’t New Year’s Revolutions because they don’t really represent a change of course.  We are developing new programs that will allow us to meet the Kieve-Wavus mission in new ways, while building upon the strengths, tradition and history that makes us the healthy vibrant organization that we are today.  So perhaps they are Evolutions – structural changes to make us more effective, sustainable and healthy.

But before I share our Evolutions with you, let’s review the Kieve-Wavus mission statement. (be honest – have you ever read it?)

Kieve-Wavus Education empowers people to contribute positively to society by promoting the values of kindness, respect for others, and environmental stewardship through year-round experiential programs, camps for youth and adults, and guidance from inspirational role models

So, with the mission as our inspiration – we are heading into 2013 prepared to strengthen and deepen our impact on young people in our current programs – and to launch a brand new program.

Scheduled to launch in Fall 2014, the Bridge Year will engage 24 rising 9th graders in a year of innovative study that fosters intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth in a cooperative learning environment.  The Bridge Year will be based at the Kennedy Learning Center and will use the communities, trails and waterways of Maine and beyond as its classrooms.

With over 80 years of experience, education and adventure with young people behind us, Kieve-Wavus is thrilled to embrace this evolutionary shift that will allow us to engage deeply with a small group of young people for an extended period of time.

Please support our efforts by spreading the word – and watching the Bridge Year blog for updates as the program develops and as we prepare to welcome our inaugural class of students in September 2014!the_bridge_year_image

Posted in: All Camps, News |

Make a Difference

Since 1982, the Leadership School has impacted communities across the state of Maine in many ways.  Over that time, we have shared important messages like, “I make my life through my choices” with an entire generation.  At Leadership School programs now, we meet students whose parents have said fondly “I remember that” and “my time at Kieve was so special.”  These stories fuel our passion and remind us that although our programs may be short, the power of our work is great.  While our time with students during Leadership School programs is short-lived and temporary, the stories that we hear weeks, months and years later tell us that our impact is deep and lasting.

As Educators, we know that our lasting impact is less about us, or our specific teachings, than it is about the opportunities that we offer students.  With our belief in them, we are giving students a gift of belief in themselves.  By posing authentic challenges, we offer students confidence to push themselves to both “fail” and “succeed” with courage and grace.  When we listen and play, we demonstrate to students that they are valuable and worth our time and attention.  By showing our true selves at work and play, we reveal an honest human spirit that is both fallible and completely acceptable . . . and as they “strive in emulation of” any one of the Educators at TLS, they are really striving to live within their own true selves.

As you do your work in the world, notice how you impact those around you and how powerful your connections are.  You may be surprised to find how many connections you have made – and how many of them are deep and lasting.

Posted in: Leadership School, News |

What Feeds Your Fire?

It was two degrees this morning.  As I filled the wood stove, I thought about how kind the mild winter had been to the woodpile.  In early January, we are barely ¼ of the way through the year’s stash of firewood and that gives me a sense of security and safety.  There will be something left when we get a “surprise” April Nor’easter.  Yet it feels good to load the stove this morning, and to let it burn hot for a while.   It takes the chill out of the air but it also increases the pace – of my morning chores, my morning thoughts.  The chill and the fierce fire that chases it away take the malaise out of the grey, winter morning and remind me to keep fanning the fires that keep me passionately engaged in my life and my work.

My fire is fed by my family, trying something new, hearing new ideas, being outdoors, working hard with my body and my mind, challenging stasis.  It is also fed by helping others recognize the sparks and dim flames in themselves and supporting them as they nurture those flames to slowly grow a fierce, hot fire that motivates and empowers the positive potential within. . . So I ask you, what feeds your fire?

This winter, in the quiet months when veterans Veterans Camp join us for play, reflection, and rejuvenation, and other Kieve Wavus programs prepare for the seasons ahead, we are feeding the fire at Kieve Wavus with big gnarly logs.  Winter is the time to take stock, question our assumptions, improve our programs and reach out to the wider world to ask what else it needs from us.  We are nurturing our sparks and building a fire that will produce a hot bed of coals to provide a base for the work ahead.   We look forward to sharing the warmth of our fire with you in the chilly winter months ahead!


















by Lisa Steele-Maley

Photo credit: Island Swim by Charles J. Richardson


Posted in: All Camps, Leadership School, Veterans' Camp |