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What I Learned from a Summer at Camp

My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.

Settling in to the “Real World”

As we settle into the “real world,” we can’t help but reflect on the incredible memories made this summer. We will keep these memories close to our heart.

While we will cherish the summer of 2017, we look forward to the year ahead. With Labor Day around the corner, we hope you’re all settling in to your routine at home and gearing up for the academic year.

Study hard, stay active and be kinder than necessary… only 296 days ’til Summer 2018!

Final Week 2017

As we enter the last day of our 2017 College Days, we can take a look back at the amazing four-day event we’ve just been through. It’s been incredibly gratifying to watch our Super Seniors lead the camp with such ease and respect. While these leaders had a good understanding of the responsibility that was before them last Friday – they now have a true understanding of what it means to take charge of a group of campers and counselors – about 400 total per team – through this very special event.

Everyone wants to win College Days. Campers and counselors fought hard on the fields, on the courts, at the lake, on the stage and at various programs throughout camp. But tomorrow, when the plaques are revealed, and the floats are presented and the final scores are announced, we’ll all come together as one Laurel family for the last 72 hours of the 2017 camp season.

Once the Super Seniors take off their team colors tomorrow afternoon, we’ll spend the last three days of camp in culminating activities: Reprise, Highlights, Tennis Tournaments, Senior Grad Nite, Final Banquet, and, of course the Closing ceremony.

It’s been an incredible seven weeks together…and we look forward to enjoying these last few days of the summer season with our camp family.

College Days 2017

A highlight of the summer begins today: College Days. College Days began this morning with a seaplane, water cannons, confetti guns and a production at the waterfront which kicked off our 2017 event. The University of Kansas Jayhawks and The Northwestern University Wildcats will go head-to-head in a spirited, sometimes intense, but friendly competition.

Perhaps the greatest part of College Days is watching our Super Seniors – most of whom who have grown up at Camp Laurel – lead the camp. They’ve waited for this for years — and now it’s their time to shine. While there are Super Senior Captains and Spirit Leaders selected for each team, every Super Senior will have an opportunity to lead the camp in an event. Whether it’s the Tug-of-War, Track Meet, Swim Meet, Flashlight Sing or coaching a soccer game – every one of our graduating Super Seniors will have their time to shine.

We begin the last week of camp with this incredible five day event, and although our remaining time together is short – we’re psyched beyond words for the week ahead. Stay tuned!!

Family Back Together

Now that the Super Seniors have returned from their Extended Trips exploring New Hampshire and Maine, we are back as one Laurel family for the next 12 days of camp. While it is the “home stretch,” the activity level and pace of camp intentionally ramps up as we dive into four final program days (Tuesday through Friday), our last S-Day of the summer (Wednesday) and then a week of special events, including the much-anticipated College Days. Already, you can hear the Lodge Chants: “Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise…We Want College Days!!”

Before that, we have tomorrow’s Acadian and Apache Musical: The Aristocrats. Early reviews have been spectacular. Thirty-five campers completed the annual Lake Swim around Echo lake. We’re so proud of those swimmers! We have our Sports Night Championships Thursday night under the lights for each age group: Flag Football, Soccer, Hockey, Gaga, Capture the Flag and APES. Friday morning is the Second Rotation Dance Show. And then we all cant wait and see how, when and if College Days 2018 will happen.

It is amazing to see our Bec and Bago campers start to gear up for their leadership responsibilities during College Days. It’s talked about all year long and now it’s almost upon us. We cant wait to watch them in action in the coming days!!

Ten Thousand Feet Above

It is almost dizzying to believe there are two weeks of camp left. It truly feels like yesterday we were just getting settled in. And now, here we are.

Maybe what’s most amazing to see – if you were able to watch from 10,000 feet above – are cabin dynamics. Whether a group has been “together” for many summers; or a group is a combination of new and returning campers; or, there was a cabin of brand new kids five short weeks ago — cabins are now functioning as a family. Campers are fully comfortable where they live. Counselors feel like the camper are “their kids.” And the dynamic is incredibly gratifying to watch.

What’s more – program areas are in full and high gear. The skills and accomplishments over the past five weeks are evident. Basketball to Soccer, Ceramics to ChafCamp, Aerial Park to Metals and Tennis to Fitness. We cant wait until you see what we’re talking about when you see your most prized possession in two weeks.

Everyone is now back in camp after a great week of Extended Trips (except Super Seniors who return Sunday) and we have 14 days of fun to come.. Stay tuned moms and dads…they say the best is yet to come!

Extended Trips, Tournaments and Olympics

Camper and Counselors took no time transitioning back into regular program yesterday after a great weekend. We had two full activity and program days and now look forward to a great week ahead. This week, our Bec and Bago campers (those campers who have completed 7th, 8th and 9th grades) ventured out on their Extended Trips. These trips are always a summer highlight. Juniors headed to Boston for a 3-day tour of the city and all its great sights. Seniors headed to Montreal for a four-day Canadian adventure. And our Super Seniors departed for their 7-day tour all over Maine and New Hampshire.

While the older campers are breaking up the summer with these great trips, our younger campers are taking full advantage of having run-of-the-camp. This week we’re looking forward to the Laurel Olympics – a great day of competition, spirit and fun. We’re hosting Tennis, Baseball and Basketball Tournaments at Laurel and of course looking forward to some great evening programs including A Night At The Museum, Twilight Tubing and everyone’s favorite: Around The World.

Visiting Day

As we finish up activities and programs today and head to Council Fire tonight, we’re anticipating the arrival of our guests from all over all the country tomorrow. It’s very hard to believe we’ve been here for four weeks tomorrow! Time flies.

As you venture to Readfield tomorrow, please remember to dress appropriately for camp (sneakers are always the best) and dress light. It’s going to be warm and while we have plenty of water stations around camp, remember to stay hydrated and take advantage of shady areas and, of course, take a dip in Echo Lake. It’s magnificent.

When you arrive, please cooperate with our Greeting Staff and wait at the camp entrance until 9:30 AM when the front gates open. Then meet your child at his or her cabin and begin the day. If you have two or more children with us, you’ll meet at the cabin of your youngest child. If you follow this simple plan, everyone will meet up and no one will be disappointed.

After meeting your children and their counselors – enjoy camp. Let your kids show you everything and introduce you to everyone! Play tennis; watch your kids ski or sail; go to Fitness and Dance. Check out ChefCamp, Lacrosse, Soccer, Rockport, Basketball, Ceramics and the Equestrian Center. Please meet our incredible staff. We are incredibly proud of our counselors and we want them to know you. In addition to your child’s Counselors and Campus Leaders, be sure to say hello to Joie, Lauren and Jon, our three Head Counselors. They’re the best of the best and know your children really well!! Also, make sure to see Peter, our assistant director and everyone’s favorite. Lastly, don’t miss our five amazing Program Area Directors and 26 Department Heads.

Our Visiting Day Lunch Buffet will be served at the Lodge, or you can go to the Fieldhouse for BBQ Sandwiches… or, go to both! There’s dessert is in both places and a special ice cream stand at Tanager by the Lake.

Please read your Visiting Day Handout when you arrive for more details. Your kids (and we) cant wait to see you! Travel safely!!

The Backbone of Camp Laurel

Perhaps the greatest feature of Camp Laurel is our staff. We spend most of the year recruiting, interviewing and hiring counselors to work with us from throughout the country and a few countries abroad. While we are very proud of our facility and our program, it’s our Counselors, Department Heads, Coaches, Program Area Directors, Campus Leaders and Head Counselors who steal the show.

With a 90% summer return of administrators (and a 100% return of Head Counselors and Program Area Directors), we have incredible continuity on the campus and program sides of camp. And while most counselors can be with us just a summer or two or sometimes three — we have some lifers who are young teachers and make a career out of being with kids all year round.

We are very deliberate and intentional about our hiring process. We not only personally interview every staff member, we are fastidious about written and verbal references and making sure new staff understand the philosophy, feel and tone of Camp Laurel, as well as the campers they will be working with all summer.

We are excited for you to meet these terrific and talented counselors Saturday when you come for Visiting Day. We are very proud of them and the work they do with your children. We’re very sure you’ll be very pleased and impressed.

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