Do you remember your first time tasting a S’more…or standing up on Waterskis, scoring a goal, finishing a ceramics project, getting to the top of the climbing wall; the list could go on forever. Venturing into the unknown to tackle a challenge may be scary at first, but the feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. Taking these safe risks is a big part of camp, and campers are encouraged to break out of their comfort zone every day. While the number of “Firsts” experienced in a summer is endless, here are three of our favorites that every camper will experience:
First Time Getting off the Arrival Bus:
Smiling faces, boisterous cheers, welcome tunnels; there’s nothing quite as exciting as getting off the bus on Arrival Day. Being greeted with a mountain of enthusiasm by new and old friends is special. With an entire summer ahead, the opportunities are endless, and a summer of fun awaits!
What’s the first thing you think of when thinking of camp? Campfires! How often do you get to gather around a beautiful fire with your favorite people singing songs, telling stories, and just enjoying the company? It’s an experience so unique to camp and one that resonates for a lifetime.
First Time Jumping in the Lake:
Canonball!! Whether perfecting your strokes or bouncing on the Aquapark, it’s always a great time in Echo Lake. Beautiful scenery, crystal-clear water, and friends galore, there’s no better place to be on a hot day.
Thanksgiving is always a time for reflection and appreciation. To celebrate this year we want to share what we’re most thankful for.
Campers and Camp Families
We’re incredibly thankful you value the summer camp experience and your summer home. We’re thankful you carry on long-standing traditions and create new ones of your own. We’re grateful for the shared memories and friendships you’ve forged. We love every summer moment laughing, playing and growing with you!
Camp is about the people, and Laurel has some of the most amazing staff and counselors in the world. Each summer they come from all over and dedicate themselves to ensuring a safe, fun and incredible experience for our campers. It’s hard work and we’re so grateful for all they do! Our staff are the pillars of our community.
The State of Maine
The scenery in Maine is breathtaking. We love the woodlands, rolling hills and, of course, Echo Lake. There’s no better backdrop for an amazing camp experience!
Camps thrive on tradition, and Laurel’s are on display all summer long! From daily traditions like campus songs and Coves to once-a-summer favorites like the Polar Bear Plunge and College Days. We’re thankful from arrival to departure…and every moment in between. Happy Thanksgiving!
One of the best parts of camp is the combined sense of newness and familiarity. It’s refreshing to have a change of pace and simultaneously comforting to be back at our home away from home. The benefits of camp are endless: community, independence, friendship, learning new skills and personal growth are a few of my favorites. But there’s something unique about spending the summer in Maine.
Fresh air, endless trees and sparkling Echo Lake: Maine is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Forest views are a welcome substitute to big city skyscrapers and suburban roads. Screen time is replaced with games on green fields. Exploring by bike, canoe or on foot gives everyone a greater appreciation for the surrounding nature.
Campers and counselors – when reminiscing about their summers – mention the community, the activities, the special events and the beauty of Maine. They picture themselves laughing with friends, paddleboarding on Echo Lake, and taking in the crisp air. They remember their place in Maine and can instantly be filled with joy, peace and a longing to return. And that’s the way camp should be.
Our Counselors have been here for almost a week and are immersed in planning, preparations and training. In addition to getting cabins set and working in campus groups, our programs are in high gear and things look incredible. Waterfront, Boys Athletics, Girls Athletics, Adventure, InterArts, Tennis and Equestrian have never been more prepared! The enthusiasm and energy among our staff is palpable. We hope everyone has a great week at home. Stay tuned for more updates and be sure to check the Campanion app or Laurel Today for daily photos!
At the end of every summer, I can’t stop talking about camp. The stories are endless, and it’s impossible not to share them. The anecdotes are often specific enough to qualify for ‘you had to be there’ moments. From grand events like the break of College Days to tales of campers realizing their goals to the crackle of a mid-summer campfire. There’s something special happening every hour of every day.
We often remind our counselors “Little moments have a big impact.” And that’s true. Like how a camper created a song and it became a year-after-year tradition. Or how a staff member turned brushing teeth into a game that campers would look forward to each morning and night. Stringing the anecdotes together paints a bigger picture of Laurel: a camp becoming a community. Campers who two weeks prior were strangers begin to function like a family. Campers who have been together summer after summer (after summer!) start appreciating their amazing time at Laurel in a new way.
In between the stories I tell, I realize how gratifying the larger dynamics of camp are. And it makes me even more eager for the upcoming inside jokes, anecdotes and another summer in Maine!
The impact of a Camp Laurel summer is unique for every camper and counselor. Everyone at camp is engaged and active in the moment. Campers focus on having fun or trying something new, rarely realizing the character-building and social skill development that’s naturally taking place. Campers are constantly working together and encouraging one another. It makes them more empathetic, responsible and kind.
Campers are also getting out of their comfort zones in the best way. They are encouraged to take ‘safe risks’ like learning to waterski or ascend the climbing wall. Well trained, highly skilled counselors reassure and encourage campers to overcome challenges. Campers begin to understand that skill development doesn’t always come easy. It takes practice and patience. Campers rebound from mistakes and stretch their abilities and interests to new places.
Self-confidence comes naturally to some, but it’s also a trait that can be developed. Summer camp offers a chance for campers to develop these traits naturally. Campers view themselves as capable when they succeed and resilient when they persevere. They perceive themselves as fun and interesting due to the relationships they create in their cabins and around camp. In short, campers discover and establish the best version of themselves. And that confidence sets the foundation for the individuals they become.
Summer is a few months down the road and college students throughout the country are searching for summer jobs and internships. Every year students compete for positions hoping to get a foot in the door for their future careers. While corporate settings can offer great opportunities, few summer jobs are as beneficial as working at camp. Here are some of the many benefits for working at Camp Laurel.
Finding Your Voice
Being a Laurel counselor is a great job for anyone who wants to lead. Counselors lead campers of different ages and skill levels from the moment they step off the bus. They’re forging bonds, leading activities and communicating constantly with their co-counselors and Campus Leaders. On top of that, counselors are utilizing their creativity all summer long to create memorable experiences.
Maine and the Great Outdoors
Crisp, fresh air. A loon call in the night. There’s nothing better than Maine in the summertime. You won’t find a better ‘office’ than working on Echo Lake. Beyond the beautiful setting, camp facilitates movement all day long. No wonder many counselors say they’ve never felt better than the summertime!
Little Moments, Big Impact
Camp is a natural place to become a mentor. Campers are constantly looking up to their counselors, and it’s often the little moments that create the biggest difference. Being a positive influence for campers every day has a cumulative effect, and many campers remember their counselors forever. Counselors, though they might not know it when they arrive for Orientation, will learn and benefit from their campers all summer long, too.
Shining stars on a clear summer night. A gentle breeze whistling through the trees. The call of the loon in the evening or a robin chirping in the morning. A summer in Maine reminds us to slow down and cherish every minute. Of course, those aren’t the only sensory sensations of the summer. Camp is alive with energy every day with “echoes” at Cove to cheering in the Lodge and the Laurel birthday song ringing out almost every day. The Laurel Spirit can be seen and heard from one end of camp to the other!
One thing you won’t hear throughout the summer: the ping of an Instagram notification or the buzz of a phone. A summer at camp is the perfect place for a digital detox. There are numerous studies about the benefits of staying unplugged: increased concentration, better short- and long-term memory, improved conversation skills and higher self-esteem are among the many perks of getting away from digital devices.
It’s easy to quickly double tap a friend’s post, update your own status or clear the notification bar. But, just as easily, it can take us out of the moment. Camp is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. Campers find themselves making genuine connections with their peers and counselors. They also have the opportunity to exercise their minds in a more ‘analog’ way by writing letters home and reading books.
Digital advances have made our world easier and more accessible in many ways, but campers (and counselors!) will be surprised by how great they feel after time away from their devices.
The first day of camp is often like the first day of a new school year. New faces, new activities and a renewed excitement for the summer ahead. Jem and Debbie often talk about “Writing the Story” of every Laurel summer. Approaching camp with this in mind allows each camper to be the author of their own adventures and memories. It also allows them to include their friends and counselors in their summer stories.
Camp is an incredible crash course in meeting people and making friends. Campers share with each other, communicate together and learn different perspectives all summer long. Children are interacting in ways they never get to throughout the school year. They’re eating S’mores, competing in athletics and singing songs. Most importantly, campers are living the cabin life, which is so much more than the place where campers and counselors brush their teeth and fall sleep. It’s where they become a summer family, create lifelong inside jokes and learn to be great friends. At the end of every summer, each cabin paints a plaque that captures some of their favorite camp moments: a token to visit in future summers to be reminded of all the great memories.
Campers appreciate their camp friends for all the right reasons. They stand up for and encourage one another. At Camp Laurel, campers learn not only to make new friends, but also develop the tools necessary to allow those friendships to grow through their shared summer experiences.