Camp Laurel Blog

Final Ceremony

We had an incredible summer, amazing College Days, and we look forward with great anticipation to tonight’s Lakeside Final Ceremony.

This Final Ceremony has been the closing hallmark of Camp Laurel since 1947.

In addition to the traditional march, group songs and group fires, each group will feature a fire starter and speaker representing their campuses. 

 

As your campers return home, we hope you will allow them the time and space to recount and process their experiences. They may appear hoarse from cheering, exhausted from College Days, and slow to readapt to the norms of family life. Given the opportunity over the coming days and weeks, however, even normally tight-lipped kids may let you in on the summers many triumphs and adventures. 

Have a wonderful, safe and happy year. We miss your kids already!

College Days 2019

College Days is a classic Laurel tradition, and probably the most all-consuming one. For four days, pretty much every camper, every counselor, every venue, every program area plays a role. The event has changed over the decades, evolving to become even more exciting and engaging.

For the last few years, campers have been divided into two teams, which makes more sense logistically than the three we used to have, and is much easier than the four we tried at one point. The Super Seniors seek to pick two colleges or universities that have some connection, say geography or history. Fans of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament probably recognized that this year’s two teams, Davidson and Gonzaga, both gained national prominence through their unexpected success in March Madness.

Part of the fun of College Days for the campers is to guess when it will start. The break from normal activities involves the appearance of something unexpected at Camp, whether a hot air balloon and a motorcycle club, like this year, or announcements dropped from a plane. Because the break has become such an anticipated event, we sometimes stage a dramatic event around the time when campers expect the break, just to kid around. This summer,  a professional team of fire-twirlers on the upper fields at dusk was just a cool evening program (and “fake break”), not the start of College Days!

Almost every full-season camp has a color war or other departure from the norm near the end of the season. The Laurel version diverges from the ones seen at many other camps in two key ways. For one, our team competitions extend to every activity, so campers can show their stuff not just in basketball and soccer, but in checkers, and not only in water-sports but in the arts, through competitive lip-syncing, cooking, and painting. In addition, Camp friendships are paramount at Laurel, and remain so during College Days.

Right now, Laurel campers are enjoying College Days as Laurel campers have for many decades, throwing themselves into team competitions while upholding Laurel values. While they play to win, we always come together as one big Laurel family at the end.

Something’s In The Air…

Everyone knows it’s coming, we just don’t know when. The chants of “Ketchup…Mustard…Mayonnaise, We Want College Days” can be heard everywhere. First, Saturday night’s dinner, “Pizza in the Pavilion” threw everyone for a loop. Then the Super Seniors not attending the Bec and Bago movie trip was another mis-clue. And now, tonight after the Dance Show, everyone is sure it’s happening. Only time will tell!

 

As regular program comes to a close, we slip into Sports Night Championships tomorrow morning and, sometime after that, the beginning of our five-day culminating event: College Days 2019. We’ll have regular updates on social media and daily on “Laurel Today.” For now, stay tuned and enjoy!!

Culminating Program Week

It’s very, very hard to believe there are only four days left of Program (actually, somewhere between 3 and 5 days, but we won’t say exactly lest you figure out when College Days will “break.”  It’s incredibly rewarding to see campers taking incredible advantage of their last regular program days of the summer. Mastering skills; finishing arts projects; dropping a ski for the first time; challenging a group-mate on the Tennis Ladder; challenging themselves in Dance or Fitness; scaling the Climbing Tower; running the Fit Trail; learning a new recipe in ChefCamp. The list goes on and on.

It was an action-packed week highlighted by the Triathlon and Lake Swim.

This weekend will feature great weather, and we’ll continue to play through until our Super Seniors tell us otherwise; after all, it’s they who help mastermind the start of our summer culminating activity. We’ll keep you up-to-date on all the goings-on in Readfield, and hope your weekend at home is going to be as special as ours, here on the eastern shore of our favorite lake!

Sheer Happiness…

During the summer season, many people visit camp while it’s in session. Some are alumni, some are colleagues, but most are families who are looking at which camp to send their children to the following year.

We show them around camp; introduce them to lots of campers and counselors; show them the facilities, cabins, and Lodge; give them a ride in one of our five Mastercrafts ski boats; and give them a snack.

 

Many of the camps these families are touring have really nice Tennis Courts, Fitness Centers, Culinary Centers, Ropes Courses and Lakes. (We’re biased, of course, and think ours are truly special). But the overwhelming comment we receive from these visitors is not at all about the facilities. It’s about the people. Their mood. Their sense of comfort. Their smiles. And the spirit and happiness they exude.

We couldn’t agree more when these visitors tell us they select Laurel for the environment and the community we’ve built here in Readfield. That makes us happy and makes us smile more than anything else!

Super Seniors 2019

One of the things we speak about a lot at camp is “modeling.”  Modeling good behavior, appropriate language, social responsibility, good sportsmanship and so on. We, of course, expect and trust our counselors to be excellent role models. We also except – and appreciate – when good modeling comes from our oldest campers: Super Seniors.

Becoming a Super Senior at Laurel is a right of passage. Some of our Super Seniors have been with us for four or five years, and others have been at camp for seven or eight. Whether a Super Senior grew up with us or started in Readfield later in their camping career, they have united as one group this season and are an incredibly well-respected, energetic and fun group.

It’s been gratifying to watch the Super Senior Class of 2019 emerge the last five weeks and, although they are currently out-of-camp on their seven-day Extended Trip throughout Maine and New Hampshire, we look forward to their return and the leadership and spirit they’ll exhibit during the last two weeks of the summer.

Extended Trips, FAME, Olympics and More…

As we pass the midway mark of camp, we stop and take a look around about what we’ve accomplished the last four weeks and what we have in store the next three. In addition to our regular program, our Bec and Bago campers depart tomorrow on their traditional Extended Trips. Junior Bec and Bago head to Boston to enjoy all that city has to offer. Our 8th graders (Senior Bec and Bago) leave for the Canadian border and the great city of Montreal for an incredible four-day adventure. And our Super Seniors depart on their seven-day trip throughout New Hampshire and Maine.

 

While this is happening, our younger campers have the “run of the place” and love having all the program specialty areas to themselves.  Of course, we mix in some special treats for them, normally reserved for our older campers. Wednesday is the Laurel Olympics – truly one of the summer’s special event highlights. Last night’s performance of FAME was out-of-sight! Well done to this well-rehearsed cast and crew. And tonight is our annual Group Sing. Lots of great times behind us…and lots of amazing things to come!

Visiting Day

We’re very excited to see you on Visiting Day! Your children can’t wait to see you and look forward to introducing you to their friends and counselors and demonstrating some of the skills they’ve acquired during the first month of camp. Here are a few reminders that will help you have a great visit.

 

  • Camp opens to visitors at 9:30AM tomorrow morning. We encourage you to arrive by 9:00AM so that you can park, pick up the schedule of the day, enjoy a cup of coffee, and get directions to meet your child(ren).

 

  • While you are welcome to bring a modest amount of food, please ensure that you absolutely avoid products with nuts. Also, keep in mind that, on Sunday, all goodies left from Visiting Day will be donated to a local food bank, so don’t overdo it.

 

  • The forecast is for a hot Maine day with chance of thunderstorms, so please take it easy, dress accordingly, and drink plenty of fluids, which will be available at multiple locations around Camp.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Second Rotation

Hard as it seems to believe, Thursday begins the Second Program Rotation of the summer. One of the hallmarks of Camp Laurel – as our camp families and parents well know – is our unique and skill-focused scheduling system, which allows campers to try a great variety of different sports and  activities at a young age, and dive further into mastering skills in more programs of choice as they get older.

For the last three weeks, campers have participated in a base of 10 core activities (which includes a balance of team sports, water activities and individual pursuits) on an A/B alternating basis.  Built within that framework are certain requirements and certain electives, depending on a camper’s age.  The electives were selected at home with each camper’s parents.  The younger campers have mostly requirements and a few electives, while the older campers have more choice in their scheduling day. Nothing is left to chance, and the schedules are set for 3.5 weeks and campers see real progression within that time. For the Second Rotation, campers make their selections with the help of their counselors.  It’s great to see the interaction among campers and staff as they go through process. It’s very “collegiate like” and campers are excited to make selections and see the results as they embark on their new scheduling rotation.

Also this week, we had an amazing Carnival last night, are into a nice round of all-camp programing, and everyone’s psyched for tomorrow’s First Rotation Dance Show.

A Respite…

Even though the world around us continues to whiz by at a dizzying pace, it’s so refreshing to be secluded and disconnected in Readfield, Maine. No 24-hour cable news; no iPads; no newspapers; no outside gossip. Our own world where we can just be. Play. Exist. Relax. Unwind. Learn how to overcome hurdles and obstacles in life. And be each other. Now that cabin groups are functioning like a family (with the usual familial speed bumps and ups-and-downs) we go into the next phase of camp. Campers are taking advantage of spending time with each other; their counselors; and of course focusing on their mastery of skills recently developed or, perhaps, never knew that actually had.

 

After two-and-a-half weeks of camp, we are very mindful of “switching it up.”  While the base of our program – Athletics, Waterfront, Tennis, InterArts, Adventure, Equestrian has never been stronger – our In- and Out-of-Camp S-Days are a welcome break from the routine. It’s a great balance of instruction, recreation, competition, trips and more. As we approach the weekend, we look forward to more exciting programming, our All-Camp Campfire, and of course Sunday’s Camp Laurel Annual Carnival. One of the highlights of the season!

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