Kinhaven, revisited

Ten years after my last senior session in 2013, I returned to Kinhaven for the 2023 Kinhaven Young Artist Seminar. Though I was thrilled for the opportunity, I was a bit nervous to return to campus after so long. My two years at Kinhaven were the two most meaningful summers of my life. Part of me worried that re-experiencing Kinhaven as an adult would change that pristine view.

And it did. As an adult, I was baffled at how activities staff once managed to put four teenage boys in a cabin and actually get them to sleep. I thought about the logistics nightmare of ensuring that dozens of children, unburdened by parents, stay safe and out of trouble. I watched, in awe, as our incredible kitchen staff prepared three excellent meals every day and looked back—in even greater awe—at how they managed to do so, for six straight weeks, for 100+ faculty, staff, and students.

In all, my experience at Kinhaven showed me that the place I loved as a kid was more special than I had thought. I’ve learned as an adult that nothing is easy. Doing good work takes time, effort, and a level of optimism that can sometimes be fragile. In day to day life, remaining unshakably bound to some greater vision can seem silly and unattainable. 

For more than 70 years, hundreds of faculty and staff have collectively decided that everyone who attends Kinhaven should be treated with generosity, kindness, and respect. It would be much easier and less time-consuming for faculty not to show up at meals, provide extra lessons, and try to understand what each student wants and needs from a six-week musical experience. But that’s what makes Kinhaven unique. People care. They’ve cared for 72 years and will continue to care—even at times when it’s easier not to. 

Many of the fellows at Kinhaven Young Artist Seminar had never before been to Weston. I was surprised by how quickly they absorbed what Kinhaven is all about. Of course, playing great music with talented peers is part of it. But just as important is helping bus tables so kitchen staff can get out early, ferrying music stands to and from a venue, treating guests like longtime friends. It’s not so hard to be your best, most generous self when everyone around you is trying to do the same. I’ve always loved Kinhaven, but ten years later, I realize even more how lucky I am to have found a community that cares so much.

Jacob Sweet

Senior Session ’12, ’13. KYAS ’23