Camp Laurel Blog

Monthly Archives: August 2014

The End of Another Amazing Summer

IMG_0147After an amazing summer, camp has come to a close. We had an outstanding last week with our traditional end-of-the-summer events:  The Second Rotation Dance Show, Acadia and Apache Hoedown and Graduation, Reprise, Highlights Video and, of course, our Final Ceremony. It was a week to celebrate and reminisce about the summer of 2014.

On Friday, we woke up early and headed to the Dining Hall for goodbyes and hugs to all our friends and counselors.

We can’t thank our campers enough for sharing themselves with us for seven weeks. We can’t thank our counselors enough for their dedication, commitment, hard work and enthusiasm. We can’t thank our camp families enough for continuing to have the confidence and faith in all of us at Camp Laurel. And, most of all, we can’t wait to see everyone in Readfield next June!

Bringing Away Life Skills

CL Life SkillsFor most campers, when the summer of 2014 draws to a close, there is always next summer to which they can look forward. For the oldest campers, however, farewell this summer means farewell forever to their years as campers. Even though a significant number of former campers choose to return to summer camp as staff members later, the experiences they gained as campers are unique to those years. Although it is difficult to say goodbye at the conclusion of their final summer, it is also a time when older campers reflect upon their camp years and truly take inventory of what camp has meant to them and will continue to mean as they proceed in life.

Older campers come away from camp having attained life skills that give them a distinct advantage img_2191as they move through their high school years and college becomes a focus. There is, for instance, respect for tradition. College campuses, like resident camps, are built on traditions that help define them.  Former campers understand the importance of their role in these traditions by creating experiences that are both memorable and worthwhile.

Former campers know how to show spirit and to live in the moment as well. At camp, campers are sensitive to the fact that their time at camp each summer is limited and they embrace each minute. Having already learned to comprehend that their camp years are limited to a specific timeline in their lives, former campers arrive on college campuses already understanding that their college years are much the same.

img_4897There is also an emphasis on total involvement at camp. Summer camp is about creating an environment in which campers feel encouraged to try new things and to push their level of comfort each summer. In the safety of a setting that emphasizes inclusion, campers learn to understand that diversity is key to success. It takes many types of people and talents coming together to make camp the beloved place that it is in the hearts of the campers. With such an understanding, campers tend to get to know and befriend individuals who they might not otherwise have taken the time to get to know in a setting that does not facilitate similar ideals.  Having been submerged in such a culture for several summers, campers are well equipped for the transition from home to college life after several summers at camp. They also tend to be somewhat open- minded when it comes to new things and experiences.

Older campers also come away from camp as leaders. Whether they have led fellow campers in anCL Life Skills 4 activity or helped mentor and lead younger campers in their later camp years, leadership is another quality that is rigorously promoted and embraced at sleepaway camp.

Campers also learn everyday life skills at sleepaway camp as they spend several weeks away from home each summer and make decisions for themselves. Making healthy eating decisions, for instance, is an important skill that children learn at camp. Campers also learn how to juggle multiple commitments at once, such as having a role in a camp show while simultaneously playing on a sports team. They co-habitate daily with several other campers and learn how to maximize their living space.

Clearly, those campers who will say goodbye to camp at the conclusion of the summer are bringing away far more than fun memories of a place where they spent their childhood summers. They’re bringing away experiences that translate into life far beyond camp.


College Days Comes to a Close

untitled-168College Days came to a close today.  It was five days of excitement, cheering, competition, spirit, enthusiasm and fun.  College Days started at Camp Laurel 26 years ago and has been a coveted tradition ever since.  In 2003, we moved away from staff captains and introduced Super Senior captains.  It’s one of the great honors to be selected as a captain or spirit leader…but every Super Senior takes part in leading a team of 250 campers and 120 staff.

For five days, we played, we cheered, we competed, we swam, we ran, and we had a ball.  Yes, at times the competition was intense.  But it always ended with high fives, handshakes, and a ”good job” for every opponent.

Everyone participated in College Days in some way — or many ways. Some loved the soccer and tennis tournaments while others were more into the basketball games.  Others loved the swim and track meets, while other campers focused on the song, cheer, float and plaque. Everyone loved Silent Dinner, Slam Dunk, Bucket Brigade, Tug O’ War, Rope Burn and Chaos.

Cincinnati won College Days this year.  But as Jem announced the final score, moments later he reminded everyone to go back to campus, take off their colors, wash off their face paint and put on their regular attire and staff shirts so we can all come together as one Laurel family.

untitled-244Tomorrow we’ll have a much-needed and well-deserved sleep-in, watch the Dance Show, Rec Day activities, enjoy Reprise and Highlights, and of course feast on steak and lobster at the Banquet Dinner.

Thursday is Packing Day and a chance to say goodbyes, reminisce, enjoy each others company and get ready for the annual Final Ceremony.

It’s been a great summer…and we look forward to the last few days together as the 2014 Laurel family.

College Days

The Super Seniors met with Jem, Debbie and Keith last night to  announce the College Days teams.  We discussed the “break,” the camper leadership and captains, the next five days together…and we talked a lot about the last week of camp for this great group of campers, many of whom have been with us for six, seven and eight years.

Starting at lunch today, these Super Seniors will lead us through five days of sports, games, activities, events, cheers, relays, slam-dunk contests and more.  They will demonstrate the leadership skills they’ve acquired this summer, and we will watch them grow into true camp heroes.
After the break today (first a fake out at Fruit Break, then a Magic Show and a Water Show…and finally the real thing)  we were all treated to an amazing demonstration of Flyboarding across Echo lake with Flyboard Phil carrying the traditional College Days Banner.

Campers headed to the Upper Fields and the Marquette Blue Eagles and the Cincinnati Red Bearcats were announced as our 2014 teams. The 51 Super Seniors will lead our campers and our counselors through what’s expected to be a great week of fun, spirit and competition.

Let The Games Begin!!

5 Minutes at Camp

StopwatchWe focus a lot on how much happens at camp over the course of the summer, but the amount of activity that takes place in just 5 minutes on any given day is mind blowing to anyone who is not familiar with camp. Five minutes at summer camp is like a symphony: many individual components come together at the same time to create a single, enjoyable experience. In addition, each component is unique, yet critical, to the overall piece. In just five minutes at camp…

A soccer team may score a goal to win a championship game while play rehearsal takes place on the stage and, at the waterfront, swim instruction is happening. In arts & crafts, campers are busy putting the finishing touches on projects as a batter on the softball team steps onto first base and a volleyball is spiked over the net. A group of campers is learning how to sail on the lake as a group of paddle boarders make their way across the water. A camper does her first giant swing on the parallel bars in gymnastics just as another reaches the top of the climbing wall while yet another makes his way across the high ropes course. It’s a 3 on 3 tournament on the basketball courts and a group of campers are learning how to improve their tennis serve just as a camper finds the back of the net at lacrosse. A team captain just called a time out at roller hockey and the finishing touches are being put onto some hip hop choreography in dance. A group of mountain bikers pass a group of runners and two teams are facing off in flag football. It’s the bottom of the 9th on the baseball field and the game is tied while the final two players in an intense game of gaga face off as their fellow campers cheer them on. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies wafts from the cooking studios and campers in photography take nature shots as a small group of campers fishes nearby.

And it’s not just the action that takes place in any given five minutes at camp that creates the Conductorrhythm of summer, it’s the interaction. As all of these activities are happening, campers and staff members are talking, laughing, learning and cheering. In the same five minutes at camp, friendships are formed and new skills learned. Traditions begin and are repeated. Campers try something new for the first time as well as accomplish them for the first time after a summer of trying. In five minutes at camp, campers gain life skills by becoming more confident and more self-reliant.   In just five minutes at camp, memories are made. Like a conductor, memories bring all of those activities together to create the image of summer camp that campers replay for a lifetime.


Camp Laurel Lake Swim

untitled-44Early morning breakfast, a pep talk at the sailing bleachers and then into the canoes for 35 Bec and Bago campers attempting the 60th annual Lake Swim. Having completed a series of “Lake Swim Preps,” the participants are well prepared for the swim in Echo Lake. Each camper is designated a canoe and a lifeguard who paddles the camper south 1 ¼ miles down the eastern leg of Echo Lake. The camper disembarks and waits for the start of the swim. “Ready, Set, Go” and the campers swim north aiming for the end of the lake. Swimmers, donned in neon yellow caps, are followed closely by their lifeguard. Initially chatty and excited, the swimmers soon settle into a rhythm as they focus on the task ahead. 2014 Lake Swimmers completed the distance in times ranging from 35 minutes to just over an hour. Tired, but happy, the swimmers look forward to lunch; not just for the food, but for the pride in seeing their names joining those of past swimmers permanently displayed on wooden plaques along the walls of Tanager Dining Room. IMG_8613

Historically the swim began in 1954 at Camp Laurel located at Lake Awosting in New York State. Awosting is 1 ¼ miles long. When Laurel moved to Maine, a new swim was created in the image of the old. While the aim of the swim is simply to complete the distance, campers are still timed. Current record holders are Jon Ritter (1981) 25’ 16” and Saori MacInnes (2009) 29’ 39”.

Campfires and S’mores

Camp_Laurel (2)The program at Camp Laurel is incredibly active and fast-paced.  Campers are scheduled for activities all day long – from tennis, basketball, lacrosse and soccer to waterskiing, wakeboarding, horseback riding, metals and more.  We climb, canoe, hike and swing through trees on our Ropes Course.  We slide down a 40-foot Zipline. We eat breakfast, fruit break, lunch, dinner, and Nite Bite together with our friends and counselors. We enjoy evening activities, special events, camping trips and traditional day excursions.  We participate in theatre productions, dance shows, and intercamps and tournaments in 12 different sports.  We record music, create masterpieces in ChefCamp and play guitar, drums and keyboards.

But last night, at about 9:15, ten girls from a Senior Baxter cabin were sitting around the Alliquippa Campfire Site just talking.  They were singing, making s’mores, reminiscing about their day and talking among themselves and their counselors. untitled-107 They were having the best time.

We think, in addition to all the skills we teach and campers learn every day…in addition to the tennis serve they may master and the gymnastics moves they may perfect…the time at the Alliquippa Campfire Site is what those ten Baxter girls will remember most: a simple moment with close friends, sharing their greatest memories at their summer home.

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