Defining the Laurel Spirit

We’ve heard Jem say it many times. It’s such a simple request, but one that has taken root at Camp Laurel over the years. It’s a staple of the Camp Laurel experience. Be kinder than necessary. It may seem overly simplistic, but when put into action, is one of the cornerstones for the family vibe at Camp Laurel. It reminds everyone that we’re on the same team and have the same goal. At camp, acts of kindness are routinely celebrated. Small acts of goodwill toward others build up, creating the foundation for our culture.

There are so many opportunities to be kinder than necessary every day at camp. At activities, it’s seen through the praise and support we have for one another. Campers and counselors remain competitive and sportsmanlike in athletics. Positive feedback pushes campers toward new literal heights on the climbing wall. Artists find new ways to refine their creative work in InterArts. This attitude is entrenched in our Camp Brother, Camp Sister programs. Prospective families touring Camp Laurel always mention the welcoming smiles and friendly demeanor of everyone around camp.

The message may sound simple: Be kinder than necessary. But it’s a key building block for a successful summer. Campers and counselors go out of their way to look out for each other. It creates a ripple effect, allowing for a perpetually upbeat atmosphere. And that’s what the Laurel Spirit is all about!

Back to School

You may have begun to notice that, ever so slowly, the nights are beginning to turn a bit cooler and the sun is rising a bit later. This could only mean that Fall is upon us, and school is right around the corner. Of course, school will look different for everyone this year.

Whether it’s online, in-person or a hybrid, students and teachers will be together again. Conversations will be had about what we did during our extended break and how different 2020 has been than any year in memory.  We’ve heard over and over how much our campers and counselors missed being at Camp Laurel: missing the routines, missing learning new skills, missing the outdoors, and, mostly, missing camp friends and the chance to be mentored by our amazing staff. We all are yearning for the community and unconditional acceptance we feel at camp.

As our campers head back to school, please know that we missed sharing everything with you, but we’re one step closer to being together on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!

Camp Skills at Home

Campers return home at the end of each summer with a boatload of benefits gained during their time away. From mastering a forehand in tennis to throwing the perfect bowl in ceramics, campers return with increased confidence and self-esteem. They also come home feeling connected and part of the amazing Camp Laurel community.

Now is the perfect time for campers to utilize the skills they developed at camp. Take some time to continue the comic book you created last summer. Work up a sweat by going for a run, juggling a soccer ball or working on your ball-handling skills. Up your kitchen game when you’re ready for lunch or dinner with our ChefCamp Recipe Book.

Finally, staying in touch with your camp friends has never been easier thanks to technology. But nothing beats a hand-written letter. Take the time to write to your camp friends about the good times, fun activities, and memories you’ve shared. And don’t forget to include all the things you’re looking forward to next summer at Laurel!

Wishing our Laurel Family all the best and excited to see you on the shores of Echo Lake in June.

What’s Going on at Camp?

It’s another beautiful day in the state of Maine! The sun is shining and Echo Lake is warm and inviting! While camp is so quiet this summer, there’s still a lot going on. We’ve replaced the last three Acadian Cabins and they look amazing; the new Council Fire above Tanager is magnificent; the Fields are freshly mowed and the Courts are ready – now all we need is you in 2021!

Jem, Debbie, and Peter are also prepping to make 2021 the best summer ever. They’re diving into Staff Orientation, Evening Programs, S-Days, and much, much more. Our Campus Leaders and Head Counselors will join Jem, Debbie and Peter for a Zoom Summit next week to begin putting our team together for next June.

This Thursday, July 23rd, is our first ever social media Laurel Spirit Day. We encourage anyone who wants to share their enthusiasm for Laurel to wear their Laurel gear and tag us on Instagram and/or Facebook stories. Missing everyone and looking forward to seeing you all again on the shores of Echo Lake in eleven months.

Celebrating Independence Day

It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Echo Lake over the weekend. Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to have celebrated Independence Day together in Maine.  We’re grateful for the fun programs our Department Heads plan like Red, White and Boogie at Dance, Ring the Liberty Bell at Climbing, US Open Tournament at Tennis and countless others. Of course, the special July 4th Cookout and the best fireworks show in Maine cap off an amazing day.

We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.

We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s Independence Day on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!

Camp Activities at Home

We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. We came up with a list of fun Camp Laurel activities that can be done to keep things interesting. We’d also love to hear the at-home ideas our Camp Laurel family is up to in the comments below!

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are one of the many team-building activities we utilize when camp opens to create a great community with awesome communication. Want to make it fun while also being productive? Get your camp duffels out and set up clues for items your campers will bring to camp. The duffel can be home for the clues and items they find around the house. This is a great way to generate excitement for camp.

Backyard or Indoor Camping

Nothing beats being with friends in the great outdoors. And now is a great time to ease into the world of outdoor camping by setting up a tent in the yard or living room. Don’t have a tent? Make a fort with blankets and pillows. A fun activity for parents and children, this can easily be modified by setting up a digital camp hangout with your friends. It’s also the perfect excuse for some Indoor S’mores!

Change the Channel

Change the Channel is a theatre game that’s stood the test of time because it relies on imagination and improvisation. Setup is simple: start with two or more actors and one director. The director gives the actors a scene (like waterskiing on Echo Lake with a boat driver and skier). At any time, the Director yells ‘Freeze!’ and trades places with one of the actors who then becomes the director and sets up a new scene with the frozen actors before calling out ‘Action!’

Write Letters

Camp is the best place for pen pals. And now is the perfect time to reach out to your camp friends, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles as an old school (or digital) pen pal. As a (massive) bonus, this will help your campers get into the habit of writing before camp starts, netting parents some extra letters when the temperature heats up!

Camp Things I Wait for All Year

Getting off the Bus

There is so much excitement in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to camp. Filling out activity forms and packing duffels inevitably has me chomping at the bit for summer to start. As the buses roll in, campers and counselors cheer. It’s an incredible scene for returning and new campers alike. The nerves leading up to camp melt away with all the high-fives and hugs that happen instantly!

Songs and Cheers

They’re silly. They’re fun. And they’re catchy. Camp songs are stuck in my head all year long. I don’t realize I’m humming Wagon Wheel while doing homework. Remembering the spirit and energy of Apache Going Bananas or Acadia’s We Are Acadia will make me smile at random. Group Sing turns popular music into camp music so well that I forget the lyrics for the real songs. The energy and enthusiasm in the melodies around camp make me smile all year long.

Campfires

Silent claps, snaps and ‘making rain’ set the campfire mood. Singing along with Jem to Summer Laurel Family, arms around your friends is the best. Campfires showcase some of Laurel’s best talent. Campfires and camp go together like sun butter and jelly.

Stargazing

Nothing beats the Maine night sky. The first time I saw a shooting star was magical. It was also surprising because a cabinmate knew SO MUCH about the solar system. I knew who to sit by when we went stargazing every summer since. Not only did the stars light up the night, but they helped develop a new friendship.

Camp Counselor: Best Job Ever

The Great Outdoors: There’s nothing better than fresh air, sunshine and amazing Echo Lake. Rolling hills, trees as far as the eye can see…you won’t find a better office or cubicle than a summer in Maine.

Be the Difference: Camp counselors instantly become role models for campers. Every moment is an opportunity to form a lifelong memory, whether funny or poignant. What you do matters, and that’s the best feeling of all.

Lifelong Friendships: Camp is a unique environment because it’s the ultimate team endeavor. Counselors are surrounded by people who are like-minded in so many ways and come with a similar appetite for adventure. On camp departure day counselors have a network of peers that extends from coast to coast (and into other countries!)

Leadership: Camp is genuine, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. Counselors are also guiding campers all day, every day. Getting to a level of comfort while leading translates into confidence in so many other areas of your life.

Unplug: Camp is the easiest place to look up and live in the moment. You have meaningful conversations and form amazing relationships. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have tons of ‘Gram-worthy’ pictures from the summer. And every one of them will have a funny story to go along with the people and places included in them.

Learning: You learn so much about yourself at camp. You’re spending two months in a new environment and will be glad you embraced the opportunity. You’ll gain valuable new perspectives from interacting with campers and counselors from different walks of life. It’s truly incredible.

Maine and the Great Outdoors

People always ask me about my favorite aspects of summer camp. That list could go on forever: community, independence, friendship, activities, teamwork, facilities, personal growth. Staying unplugged and tuned into the world is a key ingredient for all those benefits. Children (and counselors) spend so much of their year in classrooms and their free time plugged in. One of the things camp people look forward to so much is a change in their environment. And there’s no better place for this switch than Maine.

Camp Laurel is in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked among tall pine trees nestled on gorgeous Echo Lake: Maine is the definition of natural beauty. The views of the surrounding forest are a welcome change to the skyscraper backdrop of the big cities from where our campers come. Breathing in the crisp Maine each summer is an amazing experience. The acres and acres of lush green fields give our campers a connection to the nature around them. Campers are also able to take advantage of day-hikes and camping excursions to state parks, Acadia National Park and local spots we’ve been frequenting to for decades.

When campers reminisce about their time at Camp Laurel they always talk about their “experience” rather than specific activities. They mention that distinct mix of friendship, community and nature. It’s a life-changing experience and one that Maine provides in the best way.

Echo Lake: Like Nothing Else

I consider myself very fortunate to spend my summers at Camp Laurel on Echo Lake. I remember thinking the name of the lake was something really special my first summer. Many of my favorite camp memories are traced back to the time spent in the water: jumping on the trampoline, passing a level in swim and waterskiing for the first time all rush through my head.

As I look back on those memories they come into a greater focus. I can picture one of my favorite counselors giving me instructions from the boat while I put on my skis. I can hear the lifeguard reminding my friends and I of the waterfront rules while she strapped on my life vest. I still feel nostalgic about getting out of the lake for the last time as a camper, wishing I had one more summer with the friends I grew up with.

It’s only in looking back now that I realize the magic of Echo Lake is tied to the people as much as it is to the location. The waterski counselors were so excited when I first got up skis. My friends and counselors were always ready to have a great time. As a counselor now, it’s through that lens that I’m reminded of the magic of Echo Lake.