Camp Laurel Blog

The Final Lap…

It was an amazing College Days. The spirit and enthusiasm, sportsmanship, camaraderie and intensity were full-bore for five days. And then it stopped. With a flick of the switch, the Super Seniors pulled off their BU and CU shirts, donned their Camp Laurel shirts, and we were back to one giant Laurel family. By all accounts, it was one of our finest College Days weeks ever, with great leadership from this terrific 59 member Super Senior group.

We move tomorrow into the Sports Night Championships and then the Steak and Lobster Final Banquet…followed by Thursday’s Packing Day and Reprise and Highlights evening. We are winding down. The emotions are high and the memories are starting to form in our minds. It will be a great last 72 hours of camp. We’ll relish every moment.

College Days 2018!

After six full weeks of playing, routine, schedules and action, yesterday, it all changed. Our amazing Super Senior group helped plan and organize a phenomenal College Days Break. After dinner, while Jem was leading Cove and Bec and Bago campers were in the Lodge having dessert, everyone headed to the Upper Fields for the Sports Night Championships. But wait…it wasn’t the Sports Night Championships! All of a sudden, there was all kinds of commotion, and the entire Mt. Vernon Fire Department was on the fields blaring their sirens. We were herded into the Senior Baseball Diamond and left waiting and wondering. What was happening? Soon thereafter, from a distance, a Jet Ranger helicopter appeared in the distance carrying a huge box. The box was placed ever-so-gently in the outfield, fireworks ensued and the helicopter took off. Josh and Eric from our Maintenance Department donned special glasses, and flame-torched open the huge box and the two teams were revealed!

 

It was a dramatic Break to College Days 2018: The Colorado Buffaloes and the Boston University Terriers! For the next four-and-a-half days, it will be an incredible event filled with competition and great sportsmanship. We’ll compete, play, swim, cheer, sing, act, compete, run, race and more. It’ll be the time when Super Seniors test their leadership skills and lead the camp in grand style. We’ll keep you updated day-to-day on Laurel Today. Until then, know it’s all BU and all CU as we enter the last week of Camp Laurel 2018.

Human Interaction

Every year about this time, the gates of Camp Laurel are flung open wide as alumni near and far make their way to their former summer home in Readfield, Maine. It gives us great joy when former campers come back – and they are always welcomed with a big smile, a huge hug and a lot of nostalgia. One of the things that alumni tell us is that the personal experiences they had at camp often eclipse the experiences they have at home. At camp, they say  – and we agree – the intensity level and the human interaction level is unbelievably high. It’s 24/7 for 49 days…and it doesn’t stop. There’s no break. And learning to live, share and thrive in that kind of environment is perhaps the greatest skill we give our campers. 

As we head into the next 10 days of camp – and while regular program takes on a new dimension as we begin to morph into College Days – we often remind our current campers that although they may have dropped a ski this summer; they won a baseball tournament; they acted for the first time in a theatre production, the all-time greatest part of camp is the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and minute-to-minute interactions they have with their friends, cabinmates and counselors. That’s what they’ll take away most.

Now’s the Time…

Our Junior and Senior Bec and Bago campers returned from their Boston and Montreal extended trips and had amazing time. As they came back into camp, Jem hopped on each motorcoach to welcome everyone home and remind the campers they are now back at camp and out of the “real world.” This quick reminder is a good time to re-set the campers as they head back into camp for the next two weeks of activities, program and fun. Super Seniors are, of course, still out on their trip and having a blast. This is their time to unplug together as a group before they come back into camp Sunday and enter their final 12 days as Laurel campers.

Back in Readfield, our program continues to hum along as we head into Week #6 with the Lion King Musical, Sports Night Championships, Dance Showcase, Camper Talent Night, and final rounds of intercamps and tournaments. As with most camps, early in Week #7, we slide into culminating special events and programs. While the calendar turns soon to August, and it’s starting to feel like College Days may be upon us…there’s still so much more to do! And as we tell everyone – campers and staff – take advantage of your time now!

Week 5 Heating Up…

With Visiting Day over, the pace picks up again as we enter week #5. This is Extended Trip week, when all our older campers depart on time-tested and traditional trips to Boston (Junior Bec and Bago) , Montreal (Senior Bec and Bago) and the Maine and New Hampshire Adventure (Super Seniors). These trips are a great break for our older campers who, after four weeks of camp routine, are ready for a few days in the outside world.

 

While these trips are on the road, our campers in the four younger campuses take advantage of having camp to themselves and love it. From extra sports clinics to special evening programs and trips…even Wing Nites in the Lodge, they love being “kings and queens of the camp.” Our Intercamp calendar is in full swing this week and rehearsals are going on for Lion King! Camping trips are departing every day throughout Maine and New Hampshire…and it’s great to see the skills and relationships that have been developed over the last few weeks grow even stronger.

Visiting Day

We’re so excited to see you tomorrow! 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 the first month of camp. Here are a few reminders for a great visit tomorrow: 

 — Camp opens to visitors at 9:30 Saturday 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 camper(s). 

 — While you are welcome to bring modest amounts of food, please ensure that you 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.

Have a safe trip to Camp!

Being Nice

One of the things we talk about in the cabins, at program areas, in the Lodge at meals, at evening activities, and even on trips is: being nice. Sometimes, campers need to be reminded about this, and it’s our job, as caring and responsible adults, to do this in a loving and constructive way.

At the first campfire of the summer, Jem and Debbie talk about being kind and respectful to each other. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s expected here. This is a value we reinforce throughout the summer. Before we leave on our first S-Day trip, Jem reminds everyone they are leaving Camp Laurel and heading into the outside world, and we want our campers to be great citizens so they feel terrific about themselves and they represent Camp Laurel well.

Kindness and respect are key ingredients to a happy cabin life, and therefore a happy summer. It’s a value we speak about regularly, and reinforce when necessary.  Fortunately, we have an environment at Camp Laurel that fosters respect and kindness, and we watch random acts of kindness and respect occur all day long. These values are important at camp. They’re important at school. They’re important at home. And, of course, they’re important in life!

Taking a Breath

As we wind down week #3 and head into Week #4, the program continues to hum at a rapid pace. To be sure we stay on course, we intentionally work hard to ensure campers and counselors are well-rested and energetic. While waterskiing, playing basketball, soccer and tennis, doing gymnastics and scaling the Aerial Park are part of what camp is all about, when we’re at it five or six hours a day, four or five days in a row, its necessary to take a breath and re-charge.

Our weekly schedule automatically alters between A and B program days, with an S-Day (or Special Days) built in every fourth or fifth day. On S-Days, we sleep in bit, have a more relaxed breakfast, and enjoy in-camp events (Carnival, Traditions Day, Gold Rush, Triathlon to name a few).  Every other S-Day, depending on each campers age group, we also leave camp for an out-of-camp S-Day and take in sights along the Maine coast, visit a seacoast town, or hit a waterpark. 

Each night at camp there is a planned and well-executed evening program that is more recreational in nature and less instructional. Other than our weekly Sports Nite where all age groups play in a league under-the-lights, (football, soccer or hockey), we try and take it down a notch before bed. Favorite evening activities are campfires, hypnotist show, egg drop, talent nights, and, of course, weekly socials for our older campers. While every day at camp is programmed and scheduled, some are more relaxed. In today’s fast-paced world – even at camp where we are unplugged – this is an important facet of everyone’s good health.

The Cabin

While programs, activities, trips and intercamps are in full swing – and campers are on the move from wake-up through bedtime – the place that we spend the most time every day at camp is the cabin. That’s why we say cabin-life is the most important element of any camper’s experience.

Living in a cabin day-in and day-out and sharing space with 8-14 others campers and 3-4 counselors is the foundation of what camp is all about. Children learn to live as a group and this sets the table for becoming an active, engaging and considerate teenager, college student and adult. Of course, like in life, there are bumps along the road. Even the most well-adjusted adult can struggle with individual and group dynamics. Learning to live with and manage these bumps with guidance from caring adults is perhaps the most compelling reason why camp is so important and why it builds resiliency in children.

 While mastering a backhand in tennis, getting up on a slalom ski, conquering the climbing tower or being in the camp musical are all ingredients to an amazing summer, it’s the dynamic and pulse of the cabin that campers will remember through the winter and, very often, the rest of their lives.

Heading into Week #3

It’s been a sunny and hot week, but, as we say at camp, we “played through” with fun additions like extra swim afternoons, special lake time and the newly created hydration stations with ice cold water and orange wedges. The heat broke this morning with some much-need rain, then the skies turned bright blue and we had a great Maine day!

The program is humming and the campuses are buzzing. Earlier this week, we wrote about our incredible Program Area Directors. While they oversee our program and curriculum, the four people who are the backbone of our counselor staff cabin staff have 50 years of camp between them and are top-of-their game.

Led by Assistant Director Peter Buehner, everyone’s camp favorite, the three Head Counselors (Lauren “Poppy” Keane, Joie Picatti and Jon Miller) lead us day-in and day-out. It’s through their leadership that we provide the care for each and every child who attends Camp Laurel.

The weather looks spectacular for the weekend. The fields, courts, lake and indoor areas are alive and we’re heading into week #3 with great energy and spirit. Our “Master Activity Calendar” is full and we’re pumped for what lies ahead. And…Monday is Carnival!  What could be better?!

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