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Taking a Breath

As we wind down week #3 and head into Week #4, the program continues to hum at a rapid pace. To be sure we stay on course, we intentionally work hard to ensure campers and counselors are well-rested and energetic. While waterskiing, playing basketball, soccer and tennis, doing gymnastics and scaling the Aerial Park are part of what camp is all about, when we’re at it five or six hours a day, four or five days in a row, its necessary to take a breath and re-charge.

Our weekly schedule automatically alters between A and B program days, with an S-Day (or Special Days) built in every fourth or fifth day. On S-Days, we sleep in bit, have a more relaxed breakfast, and enjoy in-camp events (Carnival, Traditions Day, Gold Rush, Triathlon to name a few).  Every other S-Day, depending on each campers age group, we also leave camp for an out-of-camp S-Day and take in sights along the Maine coast, visit a seacoast town, or hit a waterpark. 

Each night at camp there is a planned and well-executed evening program that is more recreational in nature and less instructional. Other than our weekly Sports Nite where all age groups play in a league under-the-lights, (football, soccer or hockey), we try and take it down a notch before bed. Favorite evening activities are campfires, hypnotist show, egg drop, talent nights, and, of course, weekly socials for our older campers. While every day at camp is programmed and scheduled, some are more relaxed. In today’s fast-paced world – even at camp where we are unplugged – this is an important facet of everyone’s good health.

The Cabin

While programs, activities, trips and intercamps are in full swing – and campers are on the move from wake-up through bedtime – the place that we spend the most time every day at camp is the cabin. That’s why we say cabin-life is the most important element of any camper’s experience.

Living in a cabin day-in and day-out and sharing space with 8-14 others campers and 3-4 counselors is the foundation of what camp is all about. Children learn to live as a group and this sets the table for becoming an active, engaging and considerate teenager, college student and adult. Of course, like in life, there are bumps along the road. Even the most well-adjusted adult can struggle with individual and group dynamics. Learning to live with and manage these bumps with guidance from caring adults is perhaps the most compelling reason why camp is so important and why it builds resiliency in children.

 While mastering a backhand in tennis, getting up on a slalom ski, conquering the climbing tower or being in the camp musical are all ingredients to an amazing summer, it’s the dynamic and pulse of the cabin that campers will remember through the winter and, very often, the rest of their lives.

Heading into Week #3

It’s been a sunny and hot week, but, as we say at camp, we “played through” with fun additions like extra swim afternoons, special lake time and the newly created hydration stations with ice cold water and orange wedges. The heat broke this morning with some much-need rain, then the skies turned bright blue and we had a great Maine day!

The program is humming and the campuses are buzzing. Earlier this week, we wrote about our incredible Program Area Directors. While they oversee our program and curriculum, the four people who are the backbone of our counselor staff cabin staff have 50 years of camp between them and are top-of-their game.

Led by Assistant Director Peter Buehner, everyone’s camp favorite, the three Head Counselors (Lauren “Poppy” Keane, Joie Picatti and Jon Miller) lead us day-in and day-out. It’s through their leadership that we provide the care for each and every child who attends Camp Laurel.

The weather looks spectacular for the weekend. The fields, courts, lake and indoor areas are alive and we’re heading into week #3 with great energy and spirit. Our “Master Activity Calendar” is full and we’re pumped for what lies ahead. And…Monday is Carnival!  What could be better?!

The Pace Quickens

After a welcoming and busy first week, we hit the ground running Monday with our Intercamp and Tournament Schedule; Overnight Camping Trips; Golf Plus Program; and first S-Day Trips this coming Thursday.  But first, of course, the great July 4th Fireworks Show over Echo Lake on Wednesday night.  Our annual Ronny Romm Hypnotism Show last night was spectacular once again, and our first ever Bec and Bago Lodge Nites were amazing.

While the program runs, we want to take a moment and point out that in addition to our Head Counselors, Campus Leaders, Assistant Campus Leaders, Counselors and Instructors, Laurel’s program is overseen by 5 outstanding Program Area Directors.

Holly and Warren at the Waterfront (40 summers each!); Zack in Adventure and InterArts (18 summers); Gus and Corey at Tennis (17 summers combined); Tom and Eric in Athletics (34 summers combined) and Kendall  at Equestrian (3 summers) oversee our complex and intricate program in each of their respective fields of expertise.

To say this crew is All-Star is an understatement.

While we always say the cabin experience at Laurel is primary – and it is – the level of instruction and development in our 6 core areas can be directly attributed to these fine professionals, and we could not be more proud to have them with us each summer.

The Quest

After a full week of non-stop program (hard to believe we’ve been together for almost a week!), we had a rain day yesterday. So we slept in an extra hour and moved our activities to our many indoor locations: Fieldhouse, Playhouse, Arts Centers, Fitness and Dance Studios, Tanager, Lodge and more. After five straight days of great weather, non-stop action on the lake, on the ballfields and on the courts, it was a welcome break! This morning, we awoke to one of Camp Laurel favorite traditions: The Quest!

During Quest, we break into 16 teams split across age groups and have an amazing day of friendly competition. It’s a great way to break up our busy schedule and allows campers from different age groups to get to know each other and bond. Our Super Seniors lead the effort and do a spectacular job running this amazing all-camp event.

With the first week nearly behind us, we look forward to ramping up our summer calendar as camping trips, inter-camps, tournaments, golf trips and special events crank up. We look forward to the weekend ahead with program days and lots of time swimming, waterskiing, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking and even snorkeling!

And We’re Off

And We’re Off…

It was a magical start to camp. After a flawless arrival day Saturday, our camp family was reunited and the action hasn’t stopped since. Following our traditional Opening Campfire, we leapt right into program on Sunday and haven’t stopped since. We met our Camp Sisters and Brothers, hosted open calls for High School Musical, ran through the Bec and Bago Sports Combines, and were everywhere in 72 hours:  from the Lake to the Ballfields, Tennis Courts to the Hockey Arena, Equestrian Center to the Aerial Park.

While the activities and program are running full bore, the part about camp everyone loves best is being with each other. Friends have been reunited. And in short order, the “newcomers” quickly became part of the extended Laurel family. 

Welcome home everyone!  The best lies ahead…

Ready for the Campers!

Our full staff arrived June 15th and we couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead. We’ve spent the last week getting to know one another and learning what being a Camp Laurel counselor is all about.

The Baxter staff took home the “Golden Hubcap” in our annual Campus Competes which featured Laurel classics like Flashlight Sing and Captain’s Coming. Yesterday was “Let’s go to Camp Day” and today we’re unpacking so cabins have that “summer home” feeling when campers arrive. The enthusiasm is mounting by the hour!!

Staff Orientation ends Friday and then it’s all-systems-go as we get ready to greet you Saturday.

Special Trainings before Staff Orientation

Our full staff arrive in three short days, but our summer has been well underway with several Pre-Orientation programs. Camp Laurel’s administrative staff is made up of an almost entirely veteran crew, and this week is the time for them to re-connect with colleagues and greet new staff for the first time.

The week leading up to Staff Orientation is also a special time for everyone to focus on what’s ahead and dive deep into what makes Camp Laurel so special. We’ve already welcomed our incredible group of Campus Leaders, Department Heads and Adventure Counselors. Before the rest of our staff arrive, we’ll also welcome our Small Crafts Counselors, Health Center Team and Equestrian Staff.

These groups of incoming staff are always happy and excited to arrive at Laurel, and ready to learn about the summer ahead. Our Small Crafts staff get extra time on the water to familiarize themselves with our fleet of boats. The Adventure counselors go through specialized training focused on curriculum and safety within their specific programs — outdoor tripping, climbing or aerial park. And the Department Heads and Campus Leaders go through their own training about how to lead incoming counselors and staff.


Everyone is smiling and loves the beautiful Maine weather. We’re thrilled to welcome the full staff on Friday and even more excited for camper arrival on June 23rd!

Camp is Looking Great!

Camp is right around the corner. Eighteen days to be exact.  Our first set of staff arrived and are busy getting everything ready for arrival day!! Our pre-camp crew is made up of about 30 counselors from all over the country. They spend the morning and afternoon mowing, painting, weed-whacking, setting up docks, moving ping pong tables and generally turning camp into our summer home.

But pre-camp is so much more than that. For the 2018 staff experiencing pre-camp for the first time, it’s about getting acclimated to Laurel, exploring Maine during time off and forming some of the best friendships they’ll ever know. The confidence the pre-camp staff gain from being here early is noticeable. They’ve already made Laurel their summer home. When the balance of the staff arrive by June 15th, they’ll see this crop of pre-camp staff and assume they’ve each been at Laurel for many summers.  They instantly become a pre-formed welcoming committee.

The anticipation for camper arrival continues to build with each passing day, and this pre-camp season has already proved that Summer 2018 will be one for the record books. We can’t wait to greet all of you very soon!

What I Love Most About Being a Counselor

Throughout all my years being a camper, what I really couldn’t wait for was my chance to be a counselor. Having grown up admiring and looking up to all my counselors, I wished one day, I too would be as cool as they were. Counselors always seemed to be the heroes of camp.

What I loved most about being a counselor was that I finally had the opportunity to be the hero. Guiding a group of campers was just as character-building for me as it was for them. I learned about responsibility, organization and a whole lot about myself from a fresh perspective. I saw myself in them, and therefore understood more about my own childhood.

Of course, there’s always something fun and empowering about calling the shots. If something came up that was unexpected, I had to think on the fly. It was exciting for me to know that my campers were looking up to me.

All in all, hanging out with my fellow counselors, being looked up to, and taking on new responsibilities were the greatest things about being a counselor for me. Having parents entrust their children to me was a great position to be in, because it called on me to become my best and strongest self, for the sake of the campers.


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