Camp Laurel Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Summer Camp Helps Children Maintain Routine

Summer camp is a lot of fun. One need only ask any camper on virtually any summer camp campus to confirm that notion. Children love the activities and the relatively relaxed environment of sleepaway camp. However, there is something else that summer camp children crave, although they might not know it: structure. Dr. Laura Markham asserts that routine helps children develop self-discipline, cooperation, change tolerance, and responsibility.

To an outsider, summer camps may seem like little more than organized chaos. However, most summer camps operate around set daily schedules that move children from activity to activity at specific times throughout the day. Although the daily activities may change, the times and length of the periods do not. Meals are also held at set times. The use of bugle calls, bells, music, or announcements assist campers in transitioning from one part of their day to another, which, according to Markham, helps eliminate power struggles by setting parameters and giving children a recognizable sign for knowing when it’s time to bring one activity to a close and move onto another without being told.

A daily routine also helps at night. Research shows that children who have a structured schedule sleep better at night. Routine also lessens anxiety and improves behavioral issues. Children feel less anxiety when they understand what is expected of them and can confidently anticipate what will happen next. Summer camp is built on traditions that happen from year-to-year. Many camps are also divided into age groups that serve as steps through the camp experience from the first year of camp to the final. From their first day at camp, there are certain rites and privileges related to sleepaway camp traditions specific to each age group to which campers can look forward as they get older. That children can see from the beginning that summer camp is a progressive process also helps them to understand the concept of patience when working toward a goal.

Because of the benefits provided by the structure of summer camp, many parents are increasingly seeing the advantages of time spent at summer camp. As a result, summer camp is experiencing a revival of sorts as a summer staple. More than eleven million people attended camp last year, according to the American Camp Association. If you’re trying to think of a way to add value to your children’s summer, consider sending them to summer camp.

A First Year Counselor’s Story….

Orientation
I had no idea what to expect! Old fashion Scout cabins? Canvass tents? Teepees? How rustic is this camp? The cabins are really cool though; they are definitely “campy”… but fun, clean spaces with lots of bunk beds, cubbies, and big open floors to hang out on. Surprisingly, all of my clothes fit in my cubby! Maybe I managed to follow the packing list, or maybe the cubbies are just the right size, but either way, unpacking is a success!
I also didn’t know what to expect with the food. Very happy to report there are tons of options including a full salad bar every day. I’ve made some healthier choices and learned to depend on other things for energy instead of coffee all day long. An apple at mid-morning Fruit Break keeps you going until lunch!
Tomorrow we’ll be getting to know the campers in our cabins; their names, where they’re from, what they like to do, etc. This is getting me super excited to meet them! Although I’m really nervous they won’t like me as much as the returning counselors. Speaking of which, I was a little intimidated by the returning counselors at first… they already had a close group of friends and I didn’t feel like I’d fit in. Now it’s only day 3 and I already have a great group of friends and the returners are awesome. Everyone is really welcoming! It’s very cool how quickly friendships are formed here.

Week 1
When the campers arrived two days ago it was an amazing scene. They were so excited to see each other. I felt a little left out that I didn’t know the kids yet but it’s been awesome getting to know them.
Today one of our activities was waterskiing. The kids were amazing! Some of them got up on their skis for the first time – I couldn’t believe it! I felt like a proud parent watching them. I was screaming and cheering for my kids out on the water. What an awesome day!!
Week 2
Today was a big tennis tournament. We had six other camps visiting and hosted more than 80 matches. It was great! We also watched the big musical performance last night. I’ve heard the kids practicing for the past two weeks. There are some really talented kids here! I loved watching their friends in the audience cheering them on. Really cool! I can’t wait to see what acts surface at the next campfire and Laurel Idol.
Tonight was Sports Night. Each campus played their own sports league under-the-lights: flag football, soccer, hockey, capture-the-flag, and gaga. It was great!!
Week 3
What a crazy and exciting day! When the parents arrived they literally sprinted down the hill to their kids’ cabins. It was quite a sight! Watching all the moms and dads overcome with joy seeing their kids actually made me cry! Everyone was so happy and excited. I loved meeting the parents, grandparents, siblings, and everyone else who showed up! It was awesome watching the campers show off their cabins, activities, camp friends, and showing their parents this “home away from home.”
That night we had the most awesome/ridiculous candy party ever!  OMG!
Week 4
Right after Visiting Day is trip week. The older campers left for Boston, Montreal, white water rafting, Sunday River, Old Orchard and much more! The younger kids went on trips throughout Maine.  It was a great week. My campers stay so busy! This week there were tons of intercamps, tournaments and the Maine Lakes Sailing Cup. A few of the girls in my cabin went on an overnight camping trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It sounds like they had a great time! They set up a camp, made meals over a fire and hiked all over the place. And of course there were smores!
Week 5
Wow – my campers have really improved their tennis skills over the past couple of weeks! Now I see why we bring these amazing tennis pros from all over the country…and the world! Some of my campers had never stepped on the court before and barely knew how to properly hold their racquets, and now they can really volley back and forth.  Pretty impressed!
Week 6
College Days has begun! It broke at the beginning of the week and I never could have imagined what this was going to be like!! The whole camp is split up in two teams, American universities actually, and we compete in every kind of event imaginable. From baseball, basketball soccer, gaga… even dance, trivia, canoeing, and crazy jello-filled relays. The campers take the competition very seriously! While the kids get so excited when their team wins an event, my co-counselor and I make sure every night in the cabin we all come back together as a family to bring down the competitive aspect and remember our traditions of being friends first. These have probably been my favorite days at camp!
Week 7
NOO!! I do not want to leave my home! How is it possible that 7 weeks ago I had never been here and did not know all of these amazing people?! The friends that I have made here are going to be friends that I have for the rest of my life…and it feels like I have known them for years. The experiences I’ve had are unforgettable. While it was a little scary in the beginning, every little bump in the road was worth it. Most importantly, my campers feel like my family. Every day for the past seven weeks we have gone to sports and activities together, cleaned the cabin together, eaten all of our meals together, danced, shot hoops, hugged, fallen asleep next to each other, and had more fun than I could have imagined possible.  If that’s not family then I don’t know what it is! I’m already counting down the days until next summer… I can’t wait to see how much they’ve grown in a year!
Jessica
First Year Counselor

Thinking of Summer Camp in 2013?

It’s fall.  So who cares about summer camp, right?   Tell that to the thousands of summer campers and staff members who have quite literally already started the countdown to next summer.  We’re talking smart phone apps tracking time down to the second.  Perhaps this is the perfect reason why you should begin thinking seriously about summer camp next year if you haven’t already done so.

If your children have already heard about camp from their friends, then the idea has been planted.  Now is the perfect time to talk to your children to see if summer camp might be the right option for your children next summer.  Sure, it’s only fall now but…the holidays are around the corner.  We all know what those months are like.  It’s October, you’re wondering how many bags of Halloween candy you should buy for the trick-or-treaters.  Then you blink and it’s New Year’s Eve.

If you’re new to camp, you might be surprised to learn that many camps have already opened enrollment for next year.  Crazy, right?  It’s not lareally so crazy when you stop to consider that Camp Laurel operates at capacity enrollment every season.  Many of those campers, particularly those who are of junior high and high school age, are returning campers.  Siblings of existing campers are often given first priority in early registration.  After those spots are filled, any remaining spots, typically fewer than for which there is demand, are made available to new campers.

Not surprisingly, extremely popular premiere level camps , like Camp Laurel, are popular for a reason, and one of those reasons is that we take great pride in the balance of personalities we assemble every summer.  This means that enrolling might not be as simple as filling out an application and submitting an application fee.  We like to meet you in order to make sure that you’re right for our camp and that our camp is right for you.  And why wouldn’t you want to meet us, too?  After all, this is where you’re thinking of sending your children to live for all or a portion of the summer.  You’re basically searching for a summer family for them.  It’s one thing to look at a brochure and think, ‘Oh, that’s pretty!  And it looks fun!’ But sometimes it’s another thing entirely to meet the people who will be caring for your children as well as the children with whom they will be living and participating in activities.

So, yes, even though a new school year is just barely underway, now is a great time to start thinking of summer camp.   Get your child’s thoughts.  Sit down and make a list of your own expectations for a summer camp.  Then, start doing research.  Get on the internet and start checking camp websites, Facebook pages, etc.  These days, a camp’s online community can speak volumes.  If campers and staff members are still thinking of and missing camp in the midst of that holiday rush that we all blink and miss, then chances are you’ve found a winner!

The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love

From time to time here, we discuss the importance and values of camp for children and teens.
Today, we’ll highlight some of the many benefits for counselors.

Last spring, New York Times’ “Adventures in Parenting” blogger Dan Fleshler wrote about his daughter’s decision to spend another summer working at an overnight camp. She resisted “considerable pressure to join the throngs of anxious fellow collegians…who pad their resumes with summer internships in corporations, charities, law firms and other employers that, according to conventional wisdom, offer better preparation for the brutal economy than a summer camp.”

Dan thought that was true too.
He told her, “anyone can be a camp counselor.” He wanted her to be more than“just anyone.”
But, he admitted, he also agreed with his wife. She said their daughter would have “plenty of time for the so-called real world.”

More convincing was the young woman herself. She argued that fetching coffee in an office pales in comparison to days and nights spent “nurturing, teaching, organizing, comforting and inspiring.”
She described how, the previous summer, she’d helped a camper cope with a myriad of “real life” issues. She’d comforted children whose parents were separating, and aided others who were dealing with anxiety.

She taught waterskiing to campers, instilling confidence they will have the rest of their lives. “What’s more important than that?” she asked her father.

“I had no answer, because I couldn’t come up with anything more important,” he wrote.
Nor could he refute her argument that managing group projects, motivating individuals, setting goals, juggling tight schedules, and being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, was “incomparable preparation” for the future.

Dan Fleshler’s daughter was lucky enough to work as a camp counselor. Less fortunate college students had to settle for internships.

Learning the Value of Tradition at Camp

The holidays are around the corner.  During that time of year, the word “tradition” gets thrown around a lot.  But how many people actually understand what tradition is really?  Perhaps it’s the emphasis on forward thinking and constantly in-motion global community that has caused many to confuse “tradition” with “routine.”  They’ve both become something that we do on a regular basis in order to establish or maintain a consistency or pattern in our behavior.  So what really distinguishes “tradition” from “routine”?

First, routine is something that one person does but might not necessarily have in common with others.  Most people brush their teeth at some point in time in the morning.  Few people do it at exactly the same time.  Some shower first.  Others eat breakfast.  Eventually, everyone brushes their teeth but the experience is, for all intents and purposes, individual.  There is no shared significance.

Tradition, on the other hand, is by definition community oriented.  It’s a shared custom, belief, or activity with a common understanding of the reason for its practice.  Many of us eat turkey at Thanksgiving because we symbolically associate it with that first meal between the pilgrims and native Americans.  It’s a tradition.

Second, routine, unlike tradition, is not necessarily multi-generational or even long-term.  It’s something done for a specified length of time.  While we maintain some routines for all or much of our lives, others are short term.  If one gets the flu, for instance, one might temporarily take up a routine of antibiotics.  But once the flu subsides, so does that routine.

On the other hand, tradition is something that is a common bond between multiple generations.  It’s an acknowledgment that an event or action was significant to someone tied to our past, and the observance of traditions our way of paying tribute to that event or action as well demonstrating our understanding of it.

Finally, routine is task oriented.  We take up routine in order to accomplish a goal.  There is an intended result in routine.  Tradition, however, is an observance.  Routine is a way of moving forward, whereas tradition pays tribute to the importance of the past.

By now, you’re surely asking yourself what any of this has to do with summer camp. Simply this: in a culture that places a significant amount of importance on the establishment of routine, the value of tradition is increasingly less understood and appreciated.  Summer camps, however, are grounded in tradition.  They’re  a place where campers and staff members alike get refresher courses in the power of tradition.  Whether it’s at a campfire, a sing along, or an activity specific to the camp, there are literally hundreds of opportunities every summer for those at a summer camp to bond through tradition.  Many former summer campers and staff members actually name “tradition” as one of their highlights of summer camp.  So if tradition has become an element of holidays past, consider giving your children a future opportunity to enjoy tradition at summer camp in 2013.

Camp: A Different Set of Expectations

Okay, admit it. You’ve found yourself spending a considerable amount of time admiring that candle your daughter gave you on her camp’s Visiting Day or those wooden bookends your son brought home. Part of you wonders how come you never got to make stuff that cool when you were a kid while another part of you is mystified by how the arts and crafts staff of your child’s summer camp was able to draw out the Picasso in your little ones. After all, you can barely get them to focus long enough to make a poster for their science projects. What is it about camp that seems to facilitate children’s creativity?

Sure it’s woodsy and remote, even quaint–the perfect place for children to feel free to be themselves. They certainly do a lot of things at camp that they don’t get to do at home. And you did spend the entire summer looking at photos of your daughter posing in a rainbow colored tutu—Did she ever take that thing off?—and of your son covered in face paint knowing full well that neither of them would EVER dress like that at home. And was that your son dressed as a dog singing on stage? Singing? Him? Really? And last night he just told you, by the way, that he is trying out for the school play this year because the camp play was really fun. He would never ever—even if someone had double dog dared him—have auditioned for a play before camp. What changed? The Expectations.

There are a lot of reasons children find themselves exploring more creative avenues at summer camp, but one really big one is that the expectations are different. Children learn to respond to expectations. Moreover, they learn to respond to the expectations of individuals. They understand that their parents have expectations as do their teachers, siblings, friends, coaches, so on and so forth. Whether we’re comfortable admitting it or not, a lot of the expectations in that ten month world campers know as “winter” in some way promote conformity. Expectations placed on children at home, in school, etc. emphasize the importance of following rules and established guidelines. Of course, camp expectations do this, too, but the emphasis at camp is not to find one’s place in that larger whole by blending in but by standing out. Camp is a place in which children are encouraged to try new things in a quest to find their passion.

Sure you’re thinking of those photos of your daughter holding up her latest tie-dye creation for the camp photographer’s camera—those ones in which she was covered to her elbows in dye—and you’re thinking that’s you wouldn’t really classify tie-dye as a “passion.” Maybe not. But it could be the beginning of one, the spark that leads to an interest in art or the arts, or even just the memory of trying something new that turned out to be fun that lends courage to trying other new things. The expectations in the “world” of camp is that campers will explore it. Perhaps this is why it’s no surprise that many well known figures attended summer camp and attribute it to being the place where they found long-term direction. Sure, learning how to plunk out folk songs on a guitar is a long way from the philharmonic and being part of the chorus in the camp play is certainly not Broadway, but the idea is the same and, for many campers, it’s the start of building enough self confidence to stand out.

Watch Our Films Daily Photos & News, Camper Email Summer Camp Contact Info Winter Camp Contact Info Email Summer Camp
Summer
PO Box 327
Readfield, ME   04355
Summer Phone 207-685-4945
Winter
PO Box 508
Westport, CT   06881
Winter Phone 800-327-3509
American Camp Association Maine Camp Experience
Quality Maine Camping
Close Menu
Watch Our Films Quality Maine Camping
Maine Summer Camp Locations
close

Need help? Email Us or call 800-327-3509