At this time of year, many Maine summer camps are operating with small year-round staffs, each person wearing many hats to recruit campers and staff and make preparations for the upcoming camp season. But a mid-coast non-profit organization, which operates Kieve Summer Camp for Boys in Nobleboro and Wavus Camp for Girls in Jefferson, has launched a program in recent years that provides young people in Maine schools with many of the same skills camp can provide.
Kieve-Wavus Education, Inc. seeks to offer kids in Maine public schools role models and a skill set, much like a camp experience does. The organization’s Educator in Residence Program today places young college graduates in Maine schools for a ten-week immersion. In doing so, it helps impart “grit, resilience, and collaboration skills,” says Kieve-Wavus Education’s Executive Director Henry R. Kennedy.
The EIR program is actually an offshoot of the Leadership School at Kieve-Wavus, established in 1981. The Leadership School offers a broad range of programming for youth, all designed to teach “21st century skills,” essential to character development, says Kennedy. Today, seven years after its inception, the EIR program places 21 young adults in 17 different schools, including a school as far north as Woodland. While most EIRs are placed for 10 weeks, three are participating for 20 weeks, Kennedy says.
“These young role models are so needed in schools,” he says. The participating schools do not pay to host the EIR personnel; “Kieve-Wavus Education funds it entirely.”
Jess Anderson, program director of the Leadership School, says some EIR personnel come through Kieve or Wavus summer camp employment, while others find their way to EIR participation by word of mouth.
One element of EIR participation is the opportunity to discern the possibility of a teaching career. It also brings young people to Maine, says program leaders.
Kieve-Wavus intern Sam Kennedy says one helpful quality is that youngsters in participating schools don’t necessarily see their EIR as an “authority figure.”
“It makes them more approachable,” he says.
Approximately one-third of the EIR participants are involved with after-school programs, says Anderson. The first such program was developed at Nobleboro Central School, she says. Typically, different age groups participate on different days.
The full scope of EIR efforts is broad and varied. The Kieve-Wavus website describes EIRs offering ongoing support and promoting a positive and respectful school climate – including leading social skills lunch gatherings. EIRs support kids in exercise breaks, as well as in schools’ adventure education curricula. They also share Leadership School curriculum in collaboration with traditional curriculum.
Ultimately, the EIR functions in collaboration with the schools’ needs and goals, and “furthers the Kieve-Wavus long range goal of deepening and broadening the impact of our programming on the youth in Maine.”
Henry R. Kennedy says funding the program is possible not only through the organization’s “extremely successful” summer camps, but also because “a ton of generous people believe in what we do.”
Most recently, Kieve-Wavus Education, Inc. was awarded a leadership grant from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, which will permit EIR program expansion to additional schools, as well as lengthen the term of each EIR. Kieve-Wavus Director of Education and Operations Charlie Richardson says the grant will also provide professional development for EIRs, plus permit implementation of formalized measurement tools.
Camps throughout Maine seek every day during their summer seasons – and throughout their off-season planning – to plan and promote their missions, goals, and visions. Such missions may vary somewhat from camp to camp, but the organizations are similar in their ideals of providing safe and healthy opportunities for kids’ learning of all kind. They are camper-focused and child-focused, while also promoting staff growth and development.
So too, are the Kieve-Wavus’s EIRs efforts. EIRs have the unique chance to embed in schools and to learn about learning. They share the invaluable lessons of character, resilience, and self-knowledge. EIRs make a difference to thousands of youngsters, and they make an indelible impact on school communities.