Director’s Commentary: Fall 2017

State of the Kingswood Union 2018


The State of the Kingswood Union is Strong.

We are coming off perhaps our happiest summer ever, with great campers and staff, and a terrific sense of community and togetherness. A lot of the credit goes to our amazing staff, who tallied over 900 summers of collective Kingswood experience. As always, our older campers led by example and helped set a welcoming and positive tone for our younger and new campers. And speaking of new campers- what a rookie class! We had 97 new campers this summer and they were an awesome bunch who injected fresh enthusiasm into every camp event.  A substantial percentage of these boys are already re-enrolled for 2018 and we sense they will be a strong nucleus moving forward.

We know that one of the keys to maintaining a healthy culture is to never rest on our laurels. As an institution and as directors we are always trying to grow, with the goal of constantly improving the experience for our campers, parents, and employees.

First, Some Recent Changes Here at Camp:

  1. Vastly enlarged beach. We picked up and relocated the Waterfront Cabin to a spot just off the waterfront, thus tripling the size of our beach. This was an amazing improvement to our waterfront as all of the various waterfront clinics (and their respective crafts) had ample room to operate. Plus, the beach makes for a gorgeous place to plop down and soak up some rays for an hour or two!
  2. Indian Pipes Campground. We created a new campsite, named after the Indian pipe mushrooms that are prevalent in the immediate vicinity, located just off the campus in a beautiful grove of fir and pine trees. With semi-permanent tents already set up and a nice fire pit, it’s the perfect spot for cabin overnights. Many groups took up the offer in this, the first summer it was open.
  3. 3+ miles of cross-country trails for running. Using wide trails both on campus and in the beautiful National Forest abutting camp, it now possible to run a 3+ mile loop without ever stepping foot on a paved road.
  4. A new camp office and full-time office manager:  To fulfill our promise of communicating quickly and effectively with our families, last spring we revamped the first building guests come across on the Kingswood property and made it into our new office. Kiera first session, and Chelsea second, kept camp running smoothly and were likely that cheerful voice you heard on the other end of the phone if you called camp.
  5. Ukulele Program:  We purchased half a dozen ukuleles and created an accompanying clinic to enhance our guitar program.
  6. Shiny New Dining Hall Roof:  Did anyone recognize this nice upgrade?

New For Next Summer:

  1. Improved System for Calling Campers: Due to the high volume of calls coming into the camper line in previous summers, we will be instituting a sign-up system for phone calls. Our office manager will arrange a time for your son to call you during his down time. As in the past, phone calls will be limited in length and will commence after the first 10 days of the session. Phone calls are optional, and many families opt not to “disturb the applecart” while their boys are adjusting to life away from home. As always, we are more than happy to consult with you to determine if a phone call is a good idea.
  2. New 14-foot Sailboat:  Well, truth be told, it’s not exactly new, but it will be new to any current campers: at long last we have located replacement parts, which has allowed us to refurbish our beautiful CL-14 sailboat and, after a decade-long stint in dry dock, it will be returning to our harbor. For sailors who have mastered piloting sunfish, there are now two options for larger craft- our two Hartley-12 sailboats and the newly returned CL-14.
  3. An Update to The Seasick Crocodile Recording Studio: Expect to find fresh sound-proofing carpeting, some new decor with a definite Kingswood flair , and some upgraded music equipment in the music building for summer ‘18.
  4. A Massive Dining Hall Renovation:  You’ve probably seen the pictures! The idea here is to preserve the building where we spend upwards of three hours a day, which holds so many memories, and which churns out the best camp food the country- for perpetuity. While the Dining Hall itself was in great shape, the foundation was showing signs of age. While we’re at it, we are ultimately going to be making great improvements to the kitchen, the porch, and the dining room itself. Some of these latter improvements may take another year to come to fruition but suffice to say that when you come to camp next summer you will see the Dining Hall looking terrific.
  5. New Care Package Policy:  Starting in 2018, boys will no longer be able to receive food of any kind in care packages. Campers also will not be allowed to arrive at camp with food. There are a number of reasons for this:
  • For the health and safety of our campers with severe food allergies. Despite our best efforts to screen each package, each of the past two summers we have had an incident where a boy with an allergy had a reaction after eating candy shared from a cabinmate’s care package. Fortunately both boys were ok after a quick and thorough response from our counselors and nursing staff. These were the only two food-based allergic reactions we have had at Kingwood to date.
  • We doubt any one of you would actually want your child to have as much candy in his room at home as these boys have had at camp!  The packages you send in isolation might not seem like much, but the inequalities and stress created by food packages tend to cause more harm than good in the cabin. When combined with food brought to camp and acquired at events such as 4th of July, the situation becomes, well, gross. Both from a dietary standpoint as well as from the fact that we are constantly battling messes and even infestations of critters, we really feel like we owe it to the entire community to do better. Which brings me to my next point…
  • We plan to up our snack and dessert game in 2018. Historically we have only served desserts on the occasion of someone’s birthday- due to our knowledge of the volume of sweets being consumed in the cabins. Taylor already has us salivating at the prospect of some of the things the kitchen hopes to serve the boys on a regular basis next summer. We’ll also beef up our healthy snack offerings throughout the day to ensure that nobody goes hungry. We understand that active boys need to be well fed-something we’ve always been good at- and we promise we’ll more than cover the difference left by the absence of care packages.

So, you may be asking, “Just what can I send my son in a care package?” Good question! Here’s what we recommend: think of a care package as a “resupply package”. Smart choices would include new issues of favorite magazines, a copy of the sports section of the newspaper, a new book, a deck of cards, etc. Other potential inclusions could be items that were forgotten at home or have broken, such as flip flops or a flashlight. Please do not send toys or nuisance items! We have all of the equipment necessary to keep the campers busy from dawn to dusk. Plus, remember that space at camp is very limited. Boys live out of their trunks, which are often packed to the brim, and only have a small cubby or shelve area. More stuff from home simply equals more clutter!  

Lastly, there is no limit to the number of good old-fashioned letters you can send your sons. They love receiving letters- it’s probably the best way you can show them you love them when they are at camp!

Personally, I am very excited about all of these changes that will be in place for the summer of 2018. I know they are going to make Kingswood Camp an even better place to spend the summer!




Rob Wipfler