Camp Laurel Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2013

One Week: How Can It Be?

In just a week, how can it be? We’ve settled into our cabins. Reacquainted with old friends. Made all kinds of new friends. Took our swim tests. Got set into tennis levels. Played in 11 intercamps and tournaments. Had Open Calls for Guys and Dolls. Explored the new mountain biking park. Met, rode, washed and jumped with our 22 horses and ponies. Caught all kinds of fish on the Sweetwater Fishing pontoon.
Got psyched about amazing Athletics department heads in Baseball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Basketball, Fitness, and Gymnastics. Reveled in the new stuff going on in Metals, Ceramics, Studio Art, Chefcamp, and Rockport Music Production. Had 16 pizza, cake and coke birthday parties at the Log cabin Snack bar. Loved the new ribs at cookout. And in between we even got some sleep. It’s been a great first week at camp!

First Week Kicks Off Strong

It’s been an amazing first week of camp. The planes and buses rolled in from all over America and we had a great arrival, fantastic Opening Campfire with the presentation of new 7 Year Patagonia Jackets and 8 Year Watches to our illustrious group of returning campers. Staff also received gifts for their 10th year as members of the Laurel family. It was program 24/7 the next day as we dove right into all activity areas. The athletic fields are alive, art studios are hoppin’ and the waterfront is as popular as ever.
We have an amazing group of staff and they’re tuned in and psyched for what lies ahead. The Counselor Cabaret last night was incredible. Tonight is the Bec and Bago Sports Night Draft. Baxter is all about Battle of the Air Bands this evening after tonight’s delicious lemon chicken dinner. If you were flying over Camp Laurel right now, you’d see a beehive of activity at Riding, Tennis, Gymnastics, Skiing, Mountain Biking and More! 2013 has begun with a whirl!!

Eagerly Awaiting the Arrival of Campers!

In just a few short days, campers will arrive at each of America’s Finest Summer Camps in droves. But summer camp campuses all over the country have already been populated by someone else for the past several days: staff. Working with children 24/7 requires more preparation than simply showing up ready to work and being given a brief tour of the “office.” When your “office” is a summer camp campus, there is quite a lot of preparation to do before the campers arrive. That’s why summer camp staff participate in orientation sessions that last for a full week. During this time, staff are trained in everything from inclusive techniques and ice breakers to emergency procedures.

Some of the staff members, like many of their campers will later this week, stepped off of a bus and into summer camp for the first time. They were nervous, as is expected of everyone showing up for their first day on the job. Having carefully been selected by year round camp staff over the course of the past year, many of them are working toward degrees that will lead to careers working with children and have some idea of what to expect…but not completely. Over the past several days they’ve learnt a lot about camp, a lot about themselves, a lot about each other, and a lot about the campers they will meet in a few days.

If you ask any of them, they’ll tell you it has been an intense few days, but beneficial ones. They’ll tell you that not all of it has been fun, but a lot of it has. They’ll tell you that they’ve already made some new friends they know they’ll have for life. But, perhaps most telling about the type of people who choose to embark on an adventure as seemingly crazy as working round the clock for seven straight days in an unfamiliar place for two straight months, is that they’ll tell you that they can’t wait to meet their campers!

Camp: Great Preparation for What Lies Ahead…

Camps in Maine offer many sports team opportunities. From in-camp competitions to games against other camps, youngsters learn important lessons about working together, overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. That’s pretty obvious.

Less obvious is that throughout each camp season – every day, in many ways – those lessons are being reinforced far from the athletic fields.

A cabin represents the ultimate “team.” From the first day of camp to the last, groups of boys and girls form bonds, create friendships and share experiences that make each individual stronger – and, ultimately, help the “team” succeed.

Cabin-mates learn to share many things. They share space in their cabins. They share games, books, “stuff” from home.

They share stories and experiences. They share their hopes and dreams (and disappointments). They share their time.

They learn to put the best interests of the group above themselves. They learn to compromise. When it’s time for the group to do something they have advocated for, they learn to make the most of that opportunity.

They learn to follow the directions of others. They also learn to lead.

They learn to move outside their comfort zone, trying things they’ve never done before. They learn to assess new situations, make quick decisions, and realize that actions have consequences. When things don’t go as expected, they take comfort in being surrounded by people who can help. Other times, they’re the ones providing assistance.

Campers learn to look ahead. There’s always something to plan for and be excited about. But there’s also the joy of looking back, reliving common experiences (many of which grow astonishingly, with each re-telling).

Over the course of a summer, boys and girls at camp learn what it means to live together. They learn the importance of trust, the power of common laughter, the exhilarating feeling of being part of a “team.”

And – though they don’t know it at the time – those lessons prepare them to be better siblings, roommates, co-workers and spouses, long after their summer camp “team” moves on.

The “Special” Experience of Summer Camp

Actress Jami Gertz, a summer camp alumni, once said, “There is something very special about being away from your parents for the first time, sleeping under the stars, hiking and canoeing.”  Although on the outset this seems like just another quote about summer camp, the use of the word “special” makes it standout.  “Special” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “distinguishable,” “superior,” or “of particular esteem.” Every camp, when planning the summer, strives to create an experience that sets it apart from other camps.  To those whose exposure to summer camp is limited to Hollywood’s interpretation of it, there may seem to be little that distinguishes one from another.  However, to those who attend or have attended summer camp, each one is unique from others.  For campers and staff alike, to think of the more than 12,000 summer camps throughout the United States as a collective summer experience is to think of all pizza as having the same flavor.  Sure the basic ingredients are the same.  Most pizza pies even look similar.  But, depending on which toppings you add, one pie might taste very different from another.  It’s that special flavor of each camp that gives it that “esteemed” place in the hearts of those who have called it their summer home.  Choosing a camp is more than simply deciding to send your child.  The values, traditions, activities, facilities, staff, and even the duration all play a role in deciding at which summer camp your child will find the most success.

In a couple of weeks, another summer will start, and thousands of young campers will taste summer camp for the first time.  They’ll spend their first night sleeping in a bunk/cabin with fellow new campers.  They’ll bond with favorite counselors.  They’ll try at least one activity for the first time.  They’ll make new friends, learn new songs, and, for the first time, experience life away from their parents.  As Jami Gertz said, it will be “special” as they begin gaining the independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence that are all-important ingredients in creating a life that is “distinguishable.”  Ultimately, however, the role that summer camp plays in the successes of the lives of campers as children and, as they mature, in helping former campers meet the challenges of adulthood does not simply come down to experience but also in the choice of summer camp.  So whether you’re just starting to consider summer camp, have begun searching for a camp, or will be one of the thousands of prospective families touring summer camps this year, be on the lookout for the right mix of ingredients that will create that “special” experience for your child.

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