It is at this time of year, when our minds drift to warmer places, that I fondly picture the sunset over the KBIA cove. So much so, that the cover of my family calendar this year is the KBIA sunset with all the pink, yellow, orange and blue tones. Whether you’re new to the KBIA family or several generations in, we all have our special memories and stories that warm our hearts even on the coldest days of winter — some I’m sure include the KBIA sunset.
Our recent social media campaign speaks volumes to the strength of our community and the rich, long-lasting traditions which began 112 years ago. It is within the #IfNotForKBIA stories that we can truly understand the special bond that our community has for KBIA. I have come to appreciate this more over the past two years, as we have all come together with patience to ensure our special place is resilient through all circumstances. Under the leadership of Mimi, along with our incredible staff and counselors, we are confident that the summer ahead will have excellence in programming, enhanced facilities, and protocols in place where we are confident that our children will create their own special #IfNotForKBIA stories.
While 2021 was not the typical KBIA summer, there are many things for which we can be thankful: the support of our members, benefactors, and community; the smiling faces (under the masks) of our incredible staff/counselors/CITs; and most importantly children, KBIA classes, beach campfires, new members, and strong financial standings to lead us into next year. With the successful rollout of our online registration, signing up for classes was seamless. This system allowed us to track attendance assisting with safety feature for pandemic health check-in and contact tracing should outbreaks occur. With the help of the KBIA Board of Directors, we have come together to provide guidance and insight to Mimi and her staff throughout the year. It has been my pleasure to work with this incredible group of volunteers, and I would like to thank Lisa Luken and Leigh Griswold Boudreau for their time on the Board and welcome our new 2022 Board members, Dave Belanger, Charlie Buckley, and Laura O’Garr.
As we prepare for the summer of 2022, we will continue to follow strict COVID protocols as we plan our programming. While a select few classes will not be back to pre-pandemic levels, we will be increasing the sizes this summer much closer to pre-pandemic levels with safety measures in place. Additionally, we are hopeful that we will be able to welcome back classes and activities that have been put on hold. Movie nights, Free swim, Free Sail, and the Snack Shack will be back! I know my kids are super excited.
I want to make you aware, with as much advance notice as possible, that for the Summer of 2022, KBIA will have in place a Mandatory Vaccination Policy, requiring that all employees and eligible children participating in KBIA be vaccinated for COVID-19 or obtain an approved medical exemption. The KBIA Board of Directors believes that vaccines serve as an important tool to reduce the impact of COVID-19, and protect the children attending KBIA. Full details on our 2022 Mandatory Vacation Policy will be made available prior to registration.
Preparing for an unknown stage of a global pandemic is never easy. As such, KBIA will continue to monitor all our policies according to the best guidance from the CDC and the American Camp Association as we have since 2020 to keep our community as safe as possible. KBIA is a gathering place for all of us — one of great joy. We aim to continue and build on our strong foundation as a community through all this change. And yet, some things never change — like the draw of a KBIA sunset. My family and I are excited to get back to Kennebunk this summer, and I am really looking forward to sitting on the Adirondack chairs overlooking the cove while enjoying the notorious KBIA sunset.
Donna Smythe Wilson
President of the KBIA Board of Directors
Looking back at 2021, I am so grateful for every member of our KBIA community. We came together and welcomed a summer that was fuller and closer to our pre-pandemic operations than 2020. Of course, there were still adjustments and limitations, but overall we were able to offer more classes to more children and bring back our entire staff. Those are just some of the reasons that I count 2021 a huge success for KBIA.
This summer, we plan to continue our health and safety protocols – guided as ever by the suggestions of the CDC and the American Camp Association. Our Board President, Donna Wilson, details our policies more in her letter but with these safeguards in place, KBIA will welcome back more familiar ways of operations. Movie Nights will return! Free swim will return! Swim lessons will be back at their previous enrollment capacities, and we will increase the number of spots in the Adventures tent, the morning Bundles, as well as our sailing classes. Other classes that will return include Basketball, Drama, and Woodworking, and the much beloved Sea Fleas. In our swim classes this year, we will also be tracking Red Cross swim level information to better follow the progress of our students and give them feedback by the end of their summer classes to either continue learning in the school year or serve as a guidepost for instruction the next year. None of these additions would be feasible without our health policies and our track record of adhering to guidance from the CDC and ACA.
There is always a good deal of work that goes into our facilities in the off season. This year is no different. After two years of being cautious with finances and facing labor shortages, we are committed to investing in our capital improvement needs. We have rebuilt the Opti boat rack, added a new rack for 420s to be stored in the off-season, and invested in an aluminum gangway to the docks. Strong will get an entirely new coat of paint, rotted trim and windowsills will be replaced, we will upgrade our sign, repair the fencing surrounding our pool, re-level the basketball court and install a new hoop, and invest in significant lawn work. When I look at the punch list it is hard to believe we will be complete in less than five months’ time!
Online registration was quite successful this year. We will continue with it this year with some modifications to the system – we will provide members with the ability to cancel a class on their own up until 2 weeks before the start of the class. If you cancel less than 2 weeks from the class date then you will need to contact the Office, but much of this process will be in your hands. It is a wonderful next step. Additionally, we will have attendance sheets available for teachers on tablets for check in at classes rather than checkpoints to the facility. This will help transition our need to track students in class but not add additional steps for parents at drop off.
We are working diligently to complete our newest activity guide and load programs into Daxko for online registration. We will also – for the first time – post a video of tips in March which will include tips to registering online for those who want a refresher before things open. The Office staff is always available to answer questions via email or help build schedules. All the schedules will be posted by the middle of March and registration will open on Saturday, April 2 at 9 AM EST. Mark your calendars!
In this 2022 season, I hope you will join KBIA as a member – we were honored to have over 340 member families last year – the most we have recorded in all my years with KBIA! Membership helps to support KBIA’s operations and remains an important part of our financial health and stability as a nonprofit organization – particularly over these past few challenging seasons. I am deeply moved by the support our community has shown us during this time and I sincerely hope you will join us again in membership this year. Our 2022 membership link can be found on our website here. Please consider joining to support us and also to access classes for the summer. Renewing now allows us time to make sure all children on your account are active in the system and birthdays are accurate before registration opens.
We take our commitment to our community seriously, so, as a member of our community, I encourage you to reach out to me. I am happy to answer any questions you may have or simply have a conversation about anything on your mind. I truly believe that some of the best ideas are realized through reaching out to the members. I am very excited to welcome you all back to campus this year!