Camp Laurel Blog

Building Character

The seven weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It’s an opportunity to build character and boost confidence. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. In today’s world, the pressure to succeed at all costs seems to have become the focus, more so than the ideals that promote kindness, empathy, moral compass and self-assuredness.

At camp, children are guided to solve conflict through understanding and compromise. They learn that differences of opinion can be discussed without resentment or anger. Campers learn to talk about their feelings and truly understand the feelings of others. We tell our campers that not everyone will be your best friend, yet we treat everyone with kindness and respect. These are values that will serve them well throughout their school years, in the workplace and in their communities.

At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended), fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they all are, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. We are intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.

Campers return home with more friends, improved skill-sets and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves camp with stronger character, and that we can instill basic morals and ideals that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families each summer.

The Camp Community

Going to a sleepaway camp has a profound impact on campers and counselors alike. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you’ll never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, members of the camp community will tell you that camp has changed their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationships. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which fosters genuine connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your cabinmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed. The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from across the United States and the globe. The bonds made at camp carry over and solidify throughout the year as counselors travel to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it’s the cheers, the campfires, or the athletic competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished. Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills. On the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.

Keeping Active After Camp

Unless you live on 100+ acres of grassy fields, on a lake complete with tennis courts, an equestrian center and hundreds of your closest friends, then it may be hard to stay as busy and active at home as you do when you’re at camp. When you spend your summer at camp, you’re surrounded by nature; you have access to almost every sport and activity you could imagine, and; it’s easy to spend your days — literally — running from one adventure to the next.

When it’s time to come home from camp, some campers find it easy to fall back into more laid-back routines, consisting of computer time, TV time and video games. However, it’s easy to take some of the things you learned at camp and apply them to your normal routine at home. You may not live on a lake, but you can still get outside and enjoy the sunshine. You may not have access to a soccer field, but you can still get outside with friends and kick the ball around. You can still go for a run, start a pick up game of baseball with other kids in the neighborhood, or put together a dance routine to impress your family after dinner. There are many ways to stay active while you’re at home, and you don’t need 100+ acres or counselors to help you do it.

Staying active during the fall and winter months is very important to your overall health. When you feel good physically, other aspects of your life seem to follow. Your confidence improves, which helps you build healthy and strong relationships. Exercise has been scientifically proven to release hormones that help you focus in school, help you sleep well, and help promote strong bones and muscles. It’s great for your heart, and the endorphins released when you exercise gives you an overall sense of happiness.

Many campers are introduced to a sport while at camp, and then choose to continue pursuing that sport throughout the school year. If you loved soccer at camp, why not try out for the school team? If you really loved gymnastics at camp, why not look into joining the competitive after-school team? By staying active during the school year, you give yourself months of practice before returning to the sport at camp over the summer. You will be amazed at the progress you can make from one summer to the next.

Staying active at home can help improve all areas of your life. Being active makes you happier and healthier, and is something all campers can do to boost their confidence in the months when they aren’t at camp.

What I Learned from a Summer at Camp

My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.

Settling in to the “Real World”

As we settle into the “real world,” we can’t help but reflect on the incredible memories made this summer. We will keep these memories close to our heart.

While we will cherish the summer of 2017, we look forward to the year ahead. With Labor Day around the corner, we hope you’re all settling in to your routine at home and gearing up for the academic year.

Study hard, stay active and be kinder than necessary… only 296 days ’til Summer 2018!

Final Week 2017

As we enter the last day of our 2017 College Days, we can take a look back at the amazing four-day event we’ve just been through. It’s been incredibly gratifying to watch our Super Seniors lead the camp with such ease and respect. While these leaders had a good understanding of the responsibility that was before them last Friday – they now have a true understanding of what it means to take charge of a group of campers and counselors – about 400 total per team – through this very special event.

Everyone wants to win College Days. Campers and counselors fought hard on the fields, on the courts, at the lake, on the stage and at various programs throughout camp. But tomorrow, when the plaques are revealed, and the floats are presented and the final scores are announced, we’ll all come together as one Laurel family for the last 72 hours of the 2017 camp season.

Once the Super Seniors take off their team colors tomorrow afternoon, we’ll spend the last three days of camp in culminating activities: Reprise, Highlights, Tennis Tournaments, Senior Grad Nite, Final Banquet, and, of course the Closing ceremony.

It’s been an incredible seven weeks together…and we look forward to enjoying these last few days of the summer season with our camp family.

College Days 2017

A highlight of the summer begins today: College Days. College Days began this morning with a seaplane, water cannons, confetti guns and a production at the waterfront which kicked off our 2017 event. The University of Kansas Jayhawks and The Northwestern University Wildcats will go head-to-head in a spirited, sometimes intense, but friendly competition.

Perhaps the greatest part of College Days is watching our Super Seniors – most of whom who have grown up at Camp Laurel – lead the camp. They’ve waited for this for years — and now it’s their time to shine. While there are Super Senior Captains and Spirit Leaders selected for each team, every Super Senior will have an opportunity to lead the camp in an event. Whether it’s the Tug-of-War, Track Meet, Swim Meet, Flashlight Sing or coaching a soccer game – every one of our graduating Super Seniors will have their time to shine.

We begin the last week of camp with this incredible five day event, and although our remaining time together is short – we’re psyched beyond words for the week ahead. Stay tuned!!

Family Back Together

Now that the Super Seniors have returned from their Extended Trips exploring New Hampshire and Maine, we are back as one Laurel family for the next 12 days of camp. While it is the “home stretch,” the activity level and pace of camp intentionally ramps up as we dive into four final program days (Tuesday through Friday), our last S-Day of the summer (Wednesday) and then a week of special events, including the much-anticipated College Days. Already, you can hear the Lodge Chants: “Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise…We Want College Days!!”

Before that, we have tomorrow’s Acadian and Apache Musical: The Aristocrats. Early reviews have been spectacular. Thirty-five campers completed the annual Lake Swim around Echo lake. We’re so proud of those swimmers! We have our Sports Night Championships Thursday night under the lights for each age group: Flag Football, Soccer, Hockey, Gaga, Capture the Flag and APES. Friday morning is the Second Rotation Dance Show. And then we all cant wait and see how, when and if College Days 2018 will happen.

It is amazing to see our Bec and Bago campers start to gear up for their leadership responsibilities during College Days. It’s talked about all year long and now it’s almost upon us. We cant wait to watch them in action in the coming days!!

Ten Thousand Feet Above

It is almost dizzying to believe there are two weeks of camp left. It truly feels like yesterday we were just getting settled in. And now, here we are.

Maybe what’s most amazing to see – if you were able to watch from 10,000 feet above – are cabin dynamics. Whether a group has been “together” for many summers; or a group is a combination of new and returning campers; or, there was a cabin of brand new kids five short weeks ago — cabins are now functioning as a family. Campers are fully comfortable where they live. Counselors feel like the camper are “their kids.” And the dynamic is incredibly gratifying to watch.

What’s more – program areas are in full and high gear. The skills and accomplishments over the past five weeks are evident. Basketball to Soccer, Ceramics to ChafCamp, Aerial Park to Metals and Tennis to Fitness. We cant wait until you see what we’re talking about when you see your most prized possession in two weeks.

Everyone is now back in camp after a great week of Extended Trips (except Super Seniors who return Sunday) and we have 14 days of fun to come.. Stay tuned moms and dads…they say the best is yet to come!

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