Camp Laurel Blog

Everyday Heroes at Camp

If you watch television or go to the movies, it’s very easy to spot the hero. He or she flies through the air, conquering villains and protecting the world from alien invaders. Or maybe it’s the police officer keeping the streets safe or the firefighter rescuing the cat from tall trees. The truth is, everyday heroes are all around us and we all have a hero within ourselves. Camp is a great place for us to summon our inner hero and make a difference in the lives of others.

STAFF

Being a staff member at camp is no easy task; counselors work extremely long hours and are asked to wear many hats. They must get their campers places on time, instruct 5 or 6 activity periods a day, make sure everyone brushes their teeth before bed, and the list goes on and on. And then, counselors repeat this routine day in day out with little time off. When counselors choose to go above and beyond – they really show their true heroism. The counselor who spends extra time with a child missing home and helps that camper discover their love of camp and how much fun it can be to be part of the group – that’s a hero! The nurse who shows empathy to a camper who doesn’t feel well and might have to spend a night in the Health Center: once again, a hero. Camp offers many opportunities for staff members to show heroism, and many do just that, day in and day out.

CAMPERS

And you don’t have to be an adult to be a hero. Even the youngest campers can show a heroic side. Cheering for a friend who’s nervous about performing in the play; inviting a new camper to do something special so they feel included in the group; cheering for the team through wins or losses. Those things can make heroes of the very youngest of us.

Maybe this is what makes the camp experience so special. Maybe the ability to both be and have a hero is what makes us return to our summer home year after year, or maybe it’s our ability to be the best version of ourselves and allow others to discover and be the best versions of themselves!

CAMP PREP 101

The temperature is rising, the birds are chirping and summer is on the horizon. Whether it’s your first or 51st summer heading to camp, there are a lot of necessary preparations to be made. There’s packing your belongings, spreading the word to all your friends and of course getting excited! Here are some tips and tricks for getting prepared to leave for the summer:

Packing

There are not many people in the world who enjoy the process of packing; it’s a process that is necessary for every trip, but one that can be tedious and tiresome. So let’s make it fun!! Make it a family project and pack well in advance. Once ready to begin, you should lay out all clothing you will need by following the camp clothing list. Considering camp provides a laundry service, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. You can then determine what’s missing from there and make the necessary purchases…and don’t forget to pack your wacky costumes!

Spreading the Word

One of the greatest parts about camp is being “removed” from the outside world. Having the ability to unplug is truly unique in today’s world, but unplugging does not mean disappearing without a trace. If you want people to write to you, or don’t want them to get upset when you don’t answer your phone, you need to get the word out that you’re going to camp all summer. One efficient way to do that is to create a social media post on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter or even all of them. Writing letters is a lost concept, so who wouldn’t be excited about a post saying “I’m going to camp…write to me!!”. You can also create pre-addressed labels to hand out to your friends making writing letters to you simple and easy.

Getting Excited

Getting excited may sound like a simple and unnecessary task, but it’s actually the opposite. At camp, you get what you give; the more enthused and animated you are, the better your experience will be. A great way to get excited for the summer is to watch and re-watch the camp videos. Getting a glimpse of all the familiar faces and locations that you will be seeing really gets you psyched! Along the same lines, contacting your camp friends – new, old or even prospective – really helps remind you how much you love camp. Either reminiscing or anticipating together is always better than alone.

While all of these tasks are very important to being prepared for the summer, the most important is to remember…YOU’RE IN FOR THE SUMMER OF YOUR LIFE! We’ll see you soon 🙂

Working as a Counselor to Boost your Resume

If you’re a college student contemplating spending a summer away at camp, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “being a camp counselor is better than an internship”. You’ve also heard a long list of reasons why being a counselor would benefit you; you develop better self-understanding, grow tremendously on a personal level, have a positive and significant influence on the lives of children…the list goes on and on. But has anyone ever told you that being a camp counselor is actually a boost to your resume. Well it’s true! Here are a couple reasons why:

Working at Camp Shows Diverse Interests and Skills

Every accountant knows how to crunch numbers and every doctor knows how to diagnose patients, but what else is required for their jobs? There’s no such thing as a one-dimensional job; in any job employees are required to perform a variety of tasks, and as such, applicants are required to demonstrate a wide range of skills. Camp helps accentuate these diverse skills and interests. While you may gain valuable accounting skills interning at an accounting firm and valuable medical skills shadowing a doctor, you won’t gain the versatility you would while working at camp. Working as a camp counselor requires you to be adaptable, flexible, and resourceful. Interviewers don’t just desire employees with these skills, they seek out camp counselors because of them.

Working at Camp Shows Great Management Skills

Being a camp counselor doesn’t just show you are multi-talented, it also shows that you have great management skills. While most internships place you at the “bottom of the totem pole,” as a camp counselor you are instantly thrust into the action. You are responsible for a group of children who are significantly more unpredictable than any coworker you may ever have. In order to manage campers effectively, counselors must hone their management skills, and they must do it quickly as the summer is a relatively short period of time. But it’s not just managing people, counselors also learn to manage their time effectively and work as part of a group for the greater good; skills that are paramount to most employers.

So in a time when the majority of people are getting internships…differentiate yourself and work at camp. Your future employer will thank you!

Resilience

re·sil·ience | rəˈzilyəns | noun | 1.the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Camp has this incredible way of impacting so many people in so many different ways. When campers think they are spending the summer simply having fun, they often have no idea the character, social skills and self-confidence they are building at the same time. Camp helps foster empathy toward others. It makes them responsible, kind and brave. It also makes them resilient.

Campers are pushed (gently) out of their comfort zones every day when they are at camp. They are encouraged to try and new things. Sometimes they make mistakes, but campers are taught that the only time you fail is when you stop trying. Because of this attitude, campers learn to pick themselves up and brush themselves off. They learn to face adversity — a skill they carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Counselors teach campers that being tough doesn’t mean you’re void of emotions. You can be brave and scared at the same time. It’s okay to cry, feel frustrated, even walk away if you need a break. It’s okay to ask for help. Campers face different kinds of challenges all summer, from attempting the ropes course, swimming for the first time, conquering stage fright or just introducing themselves to new people. But every time they face a fear, even if they struggle, they become a little more resilient each time. They learn to embrace stepping out of their comfort zone.

Self-confidence is not something that comes naturally to all campers, but it is something they develop after a summer at camp. They naturally begin to see themselves as capable, smart, brave, athletic, kind, interesting and strong. It sets a solid foundation for the people they are becoming.

Camp helps mold campers into confident and resilient individuals, all disguised as the best summer they’ve ever had.

The Value of Communal Living at a Young Age

We’ve all heard horror stories of not-so-great college roommates; the ones who are dirty, irresponsible, rude or have no self-awareness. It raises the question, if these people would have been exposed to more communal living experiences growing up, would they be better roommates as adults? Living with others is a skill that many children only learn from living with their families. Many children never share a room or living spaces with people other than their family until they go away to college. So, it’s no surprise that these children may struggle when it comes to etiquette and social norms that come with communal living.

Spending a summer at camp is a great way to prepare your child for the realities of living with other people in their adulthood. It helps them become aware of their surroundings and the way they impact others.

Early risers learn to occupy their time quietly and respectfully in the mornings without waking up others. Night owls learn to keep things quiet once it’s time for “lights out.” Children who are used to being disorganized at home learn that their messiness affects others when sharing a cabin, and they begin to learn the importance of organization and cleanliness. Sharing a cabin also teaches campers to respect property that is not theirs, such as the beds in the cabin, the bathrooms, etc. They learn to be aware and careful about how they treat things that are not their own.

From day one at camp, campers are taught about their roles and responsibilities as a member of a specific cabin. Counselors know that this may be a camper’s first time living with others, so they use gentle reminders and guidance to help campers keep their personal spaces tidy, stay organized, and to respect the other campers around them. Every day at camp is a new opportunity to learn valuable life skills and prepares them to be respectful and responsible roommates in the future.

Living together with 8-10 peers gives campers the chance to learn how to deal with different personality styles. It gives them a chance to practice their communication and conflict management skills.

Nobody goes into parenthood with a goal to raise a “nightmare” roommate. All parents want to raise kind, considerate, self-aware human beings who others like being around and, eventually, living with. Gifting your child with a summer away at camp is about more than sports and campfires. It is about learning valuable life lessons that will help them become a more productive member of society.

Your child will thank you. And so will their future college roommates.

That’s So Camp!

According to the American Camp Association, there are about 8,400 overnight camps in the United States. With that many camps, there are obviously numerous differences between one camp and the next. Some camps have lakes while others have a pool; there are full season, 7-week camps and there are multi-session camps. The list of differences could go on forever, but while all camps are different, there are certain aspects that stay the same. These aspects are “perennially camp” and are the reason that summer camp is so important to those who attend. Without these staples, camp just wouldn’t be the same!

Campfires and S’mores

When people think about camp, one of the first things that come to mind is a campfire…and no campfire is complete without s’mores! But campfires and s’mores represent way more than just a mellow night with a delicious treat — they represent bringing people together. At any campfire, campers are surrounded by friends and counselors. There is no need for television, phones or technology of any kind. Instead campers enjoy each other’s company. There is a quaint and quiet simplicity that in today’s world is very hard to find.

Songs and Spirit

If campfires and s’mores are the first thing that comes to mind when people think about camp, songs and spirit are a close second. And similarly to campfires and s’mores, songs and spirit are about bringing people together. The unity that is formed from learning a camp song or from having pride in your camp is unmatched. This unity is not the only benefit of the songs and spirit of camp; they also instill a sense of tradition in campers. Many of the songs sung at camp have been around for decades. They are a great way to connect current campers to alumni and form a bond between generations who might not have had anything in common otherwise.

Campfires and s’mores may bring people together, and songs and spirit may keep traditions alive, but ultimately camp would not be camp without positive energy. No matter what camp you attend, the amount of support, love and camaraderie is unlike anywhere else in the world. While all camps differ for various reasons, perennially camp traditions are alive everywhere.

Being Kinder Than Necessary at Camp

Being nice to others; such a simple act, yet many struggle with it. How often do you hold the door for a stranger, do a favor for someone without a prompt, or give out a compliment just to make a person’s day? These simple endeavors may seem insignificant, but to the recipient they are substantial. The smallest of notions can make the largest of differences. At camp, kindness is a staple; it is embedded in the core values that are taught and practiced daily. But how exactly does camp show the value of being nice to others?

Reinforcing Kindness

At camp, random acts of kindness are not just performed regularly, they are celebrated. Whether a seven-year-old child or a 45-year-old adult, people are constantly being friendly and kind at camp…and they can’t escape the “shout-out” received for doing something nice. All good deeds, no matter how small, are recognized. This recognition helps reinforce the positive behavior and makes people more likely to repeat their actions. This is why camp is very successful at reinforcing kindness; the more good deeds you do, the more recognition you get, the happier you feel and the more likely you are to continue doing good deeds. This continuous cycle allows for a perpetually positive and kind atmosphere, one that keeps people coming back to camp summer after summer.

Kindness is Contagious

Have you ever heard the phrase “laughter is contagious”? At camp it’s not just laughter that’s contagious – kindness is contagious. Because being friendly is the norm, you can look in any direction and you will probably see someone performing a good deed. The constant exposure to good deeds creates a ripple effect. One person is friendly to a second and this second person instantly wants to be friendly to a third. Kindness spreads like wildfire and before you know it, everyone is being nice. In today’s world where kindness is at a premium…what more could one ask?

Learning to Lead

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others” – John Quincy Adams

7-29-9From the moment you wake up at camp until the moment you fall asleep, you have countless opportunities to inspire, encourage, support, love and empower those around you. At any given second, you have the chance to be a leader by serving others. Whether they need advice, an extra hand or just someone to listen, when you go out of your way to help others, that is a characteristic of a leader.

You don’t have to be a camp counselor to be a leader. You can lead by actively participating, being honest, showing good sportsmanship, acting with dignity and being kind to others. You never know who is watching and there is usually a good chance that a younger or new camper is watching. It is important to do the right thing, even if nobody is watching. This is another true characteristic of a leader.

Although everyone has the opportunity to become a leader every day, some will be trusted with a valuable role to lead others. As a Camp Big Brother or Camp Big Sister, you can help younger and less experienced campers get a feel for camp. It’s a very big responsibility to be a mentor to someone else, and campers take it very seriously. They take the younger campers needs and wants into consideration and help make their adjustment to camp easy. They know that being a leader is not about them, it’s about building up and encouraging those who follow them.

mce43Camp counselors get a unique opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills at camp. Not only are they responsible for day-to-day activities, organizing events, and making sure everyone is safe – they are also role models. The way they talk and think and act is being watched by hundreds of eyes every day. They lead by example, showing kindness and patience to everyone around them. They empower others by encouraging them to do things they are afraid to do, standing by them when they fall down and offering a hand to help them back up. Many campers say they look up to their camp counselors, and strive to be a counselor themselves one day.

When campers and counselors return home after the summer, they put the leadership skills they learned at camp to use. They have an easier time standing up to peer pressure, they speak up to bullies, they follow directions in class and show good sportsmanship on the field. They are leaders in every aspect of their lives, because of what they learned at camp.

The Beauty of Camp

detail-16Chelsea takes the subway to school every morning. Justin spends his weekends hanging out downtown with his buddies. Evan can walk to movie theaters, restaurants and museums from the apartment where he lives. These city kids spend most of their year surrounded by concrete, honking horns and tall buildings. And that is why they, like so many other kids from big cities, really look forward to coming to camp for a change in their environment.

Camp Laurel is located in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the country. Tucked away amongst tall trees, a gorgeous lake and acres and acres of sprawling green fields, camp is the definition of natural beauty. When you’re here, you can really connect with nature and breathe in fresh Maine air.

The lake is a refreshing place to spend the summer, whether it’s fishing, swimming, stand up paddleboarding, waterskiing or sailing. The view of the lake changes throughout the day and gives off a different feeling depending on the time of day. In the morning, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to wake up to. In the afternoons, it’s an exciting water playground where campers jump, splash and play all day. And then in the evenings, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to reflect and unwind. City kids may not get to experience such natural beauty in their everyday lives, making the beauty of camp even more special.

detail-172Waking up to a view of tall forest trees is a nice change for kids who are used to the hustle and bustle of a big city. The natural beauty of camp makes for the perfect backdrop to pictures that campers are sure to treasure forever. Waking up each morning and breathing in the crisp Maine air is good for the heart, mind, and soul!

Being immersed in the beauty of Maine is a welcome and unique experience. Spending the summer unplugged from technology, interacting with others and playing games fosters creativity. Once at home, campers have so many more options than their peers who are accustomed to spending long hours in front of the TV, computers and gaming systems. Campers are more apt to play outside with friends, building true relationships and getting exercise.

Camp exposes campers to things they normally wouldn’t see and experience back home. They learn to find excitement and joy in nature, and it awakens something in them that the city just can’t. Spending time outside has been proven to improve vision, encourage social skills, reduce stress and give kids the vitamin D that they need. Who knew spending all day outside at camp is actually good for kids?!

The Impact of Camp Friends

Salmon Rushdie once said “Friendships are the family we make – not the ones we inherit.” Mr. Rushdie must have been a camper because no quote better epitomizes the relationship between camp friends. As anyone who went to camp knows, camp friends become your family before you’ve even realized. And similar to your family, your relationships are like a roller coaster ride. You can hang out and laugh in the cabin one minute and argue over some minuscule issue another; yet through it all you know camp friends are there for you, no matter what

Camp friends are unlike any other friends and help shape who you become as a person. Their significance is immense and immeasurable; here are a few reasons why they are so impactful:

detail-133Camp Friends Tell It to You Straight

Whether in moments of frustration or moments of merriment, your camp friends are honest. They will tell you the truth without second thought. This is not because they don’t care, it’s actually the opposite. Your camp friends will point out your weaknesses, but always in a constructive way. They aren’t attempting to hurt your feelings, instead they are trying to help you grow. With their assistance you can begin to turn these weaknesses into strengths and become your best possible self.

Camp Friends Are with You Through It All

Your camp friends have seen you at your best and at your worst. They’ve seen you score the winning goal in an intercamp and they’ve seen you with a cold in the Health Center; and through it all they’ve held your hand, cheered you on, and pushed you in the right direction. It’s easy to be there for someone when things are great, but when things are tough is when camp friends thrive. They know how to make you forget the bad and move forward with the good. As stated earlier, camp friends will take you at your worst and help you turn things around so you can become your best possible self. With them in your corner, nothing can keep you down.

detail-102Camp Friends Last Forever

Possibly the best thing about camp friends is that they don’t just make an impact and leave. They are with you through your life, even after you time at camp has ended and continue to help you better yourself. Whether you talk once a day, once a month or even once a year, their loyalty is unmatched. Many even evolve to become your college buddies, travel companions, post graduate roommates and everything in between. They continue to help you thrive in different stages of your life, but no matter what they become, they will always be your camp friends first.

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