The Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association provides recreational and enrichment programming to children and families at our picturesque waterfront property between Mother’s Beach and The Cove at Lord’s Point. Classes are open to KBIA members, and membership is open to the public. Besides classes, membership includes free admission to twice-daily open-swim sessions, Wednesday night campfire beachside barbecues, followed by the weekly Movie Nights, as well as family sailing and kayaking on select weekends.
As a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, KBIA’s mission since 1910 has been to provide an exemplary enrichment program for children while also serving as a positive influence in the life and welfare of Kennebunk Beach and the Kennebunk-area community.
The Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association was established 110 years ago to educate young people about the importance of waterfront safety and the preservation of the Kennebunk Beach area. While KBIA has grown and changed considerably since its inception, the founding mission has remained steadfast and has guided the growing organization.
For 110 years, the mission of KBIA has contributed to the economic vibrancy of the Kennebunks. We have preserved and protected the facility and adjacent land while continually attracting seasonal guests, local residents and visitors to the Kennebunk Beach area with its unique youth enrichment program. KBIA currently includes 356 member families and provides unique summer programming for more than 700 children.
In 2018, KBIA replaced the siding and trim on Smith House and rebuilt the seawall along KBIA property. In homage to our past, we also placed the Dipsy Baths signs – that had been on display in the Strong Cottage office – back onto the side of Smith House (the original Dipsy Bath house from the early 1900s).
In 2013, we replaced our aging oceanfront community playground with new state-of-the-art structures designed for two separate age groups. Funded solely by donations from within KBIA and the greater community, the playground came to life in June, thanks to the helping hands of more than 200 volunteers.
In 2012, KBIA:
- Replaced the on-site tent with a new state-of-the-art structure, for use by both our Adventures day program as well as numerous community events throughout the summer;
- Offered morning Lap Swim options for adults in the pool;
- Provided a new “Locals” membership option to encourage year-round residents to join KBIA, plus, for our Sponsor members, a new opportunity to invite house guests;
- Upgraded our waterfront program, thanks to our generous donors, including six new Opti boats, a new-to-us Whaler, four club 420s, among other additons of smaller equipment to our growing program;
- Built a new bigger, better, safer and handicap-accessible pool;
- Waived the annual membership fee for Week 1;
- Provided half-day bundled class options, including an afternoon option;
- Partnered with the New England Aquarium to host another Exchange Day program; and
- Provided almost $21,000 of scholarships to youth in the Kennebunk area.
Over the years, the organization has successfully limited and protected the Mother’s Beach area from commercial activities and development. KBIA has also made the area and facilities more inviting to the public – allowing everyone to enjoy and benefit from the spectacular surroundings.
- In the 1960s KBIA supporters purchased an ocean-front bungalow known as the Dipsy Baths from a developer who had plans to convert the cottage to a pizza parlor. This structure is now known as KBIA’s Smith House.
- While in season, KBIA offers guided tours of the Cove. Held at low tide, these tours focus on the preservation of the indigenous marine life and are open to the public.
- In the 1970s, in an effort to avoid commercial development, KBIA supporters funded the development of the current ocean-front playground to ensure community use of the land. KBIA funded and built a new playground in 2013 at Mother’s Beach, which is open to the public throughout the year. KBIA’s two bathrooms are also open to the public while KBIA is in season.
- The facility hosts charitable and non-charitable events for both KBIA and other local organizations. In addition to KBIA’s annual Road Race, KBIA has also in the past partnered with the Ocean Conservancy and the Maine State Planning Board and conducted a Beach Clean-Up.
- For many years KBIA has owned a plot of land adjacent to the entrance of Strawberry Island and has protected the plot from any type of development. The land is marked by a KBIA sign and is open to the public for passive recreational use.
KBIA is more than a summer establishment:
- During the off-season, KBIA provides the Kennebunk Fire Department with its outboard motor boat for use in response to emergency calls on the water.
- Despite being a 501(c) 3 charitable organization, KBIA pays $25,000 in local property taxes annually.
All of us who have enjoyed even a day at KBIA owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of the association for its initiative and foresight. We also want to thank all of those who have helped KBIA become an established community contributor and beloved beach landmark.
Pass it on
KBIA encourages and welcomes new members. In fact, in 2012 we established a reduced rate for “locals.” Now that KBIA has entered a new century, the Board of Directors asks everyone whose family has benefited from this unique organization to consider “passing it on” so that future generations may enjoy many more magical summers at KBIA. For more information regarding how you can donate, please visit Support Us.