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The Impact of Camp Friends

Salmon Rushdie once said “Friendships are the family we make – not the ones we inherit.” Mr. Rushdie must have been a camper because no quote better epitomizes the relationship between camp friends. As anyone who went to camp knows, camp friends become your family before you’ve even realized. And similar to your family, your relationships are like a roller coaster ride. You can hang out and laugh in the cabin one minute and argue over some minuscule issue another; yet through it all you know camp friends are there for you, no matter what

Camp friends are unlike any other friends and help shape who you become as a person. Their significance is immense and immeasurable; here are a few reasons why they are so impactful:

detail-133Camp Friends Tell It to You Straight

Whether in moments of frustration or moments of merriment, your camp friends are honest. They will tell you the truth without second thought. This is not because they don’t care, it’s actually the opposite. Your camp friends will point out your weaknesses, but always in a constructive way. They aren’t attempting to hurt your feelings, instead they are trying to help you grow. With their assistance you can begin to turn these weaknesses into strengths and become your best possible self.

Camp Friends Are with You Through It All

Your camp friends have seen you at your best and at your worst. They’ve seen you score the winning goal in an intercamp and they’ve seen you with a cold in the Health Center; and through it all they’ve held your hand, cheered you on, and pushed you in the right direction. It’s easy to be there for someone when things are great, but when things are tough is when camp friends thrive. They know how to make you forget the bad and move forward with the good. As stated earlier, camp friends will take you at your worst and help you turn things around so you can become your best possible self. With them in your corner, nothing can keep you down.

detail-102Camp Friends Last Forever

Possibly the best thing about camp friends is that they don’t just make an impact and leave. They are with you through your life, even after you time at camp has ended and continue to help you better yourself. Whether you talk once a day, once a month or even once a year, their loyalty is unmatched. Many even evolve to become your college buddies, travel companions, post graduate roommates and everything in between. They continue to help you thrive in different stages of your life, but no matter what they become, they will always be your camp friends first.

I Return to Camp Because…

detail-88My older brother started going to camp when he was younger, and I remember picking him up at the end of each summer and being so excited to hear all about his experience. I was beyond excited when it was finally my turn to spend the summer at camp… I was ready to experience camp for myself!

I spent my first summer playing sports, swimming, waterskiing, hiking, climbing and making friends. But one summer was not enough. I made it very clear on the drive home that first summer that I HAD to go back next summer, and I would do whatever it took to get back there!

“Why do you want to go back?” my mom asked on the drive home. What a loaded question, I thought. Why wouldn’t I want to go back? I made so many new friends and tried so many new things!

I explained to her that first and foremost, I wanted to go back and see all of my friends. I got to camp and didn’t know anyone, and was a little timid about just walking up to a group of people and introducing myself. But lucky for me, my counselor swooped in and made me feel right at home. He introduced me to other campers who were also there for their first time, and right away we all clicked. Throughout the summer it became easier and easier to make new friends. The other campers in my cabin really became my close friends. We talked a lot, supported each other, and it was nice to be able to look around camp and find a smiling face waving at you to come sit by them. I felt included at camp, and when it was time to go, I was really sad to leave them. Thankfully, we shared phone numbers and email addresses and plan to keep in touch throughout the school year. I can’t wait to see them all again next summer!meghan-62-copy

I also explained that even though my summer days were packed with fun and adventure, there are still so many things that I didn’t get to try that I really want to. I want to get back to camp to try archery and overnight camping. I want to dabble in some of the more “artsy” programs available at camp, like music production and culinary arts. I want to go back and re-do some of my favorite activities, like waterskiing and tennis. It’s amazing how you can wake up early and go to bed late, spend your entire day on the go, and still not do everything that camp has to offer!

And, as if those things weren’t enough, I told her that I want to go back to camp because it feels like I’m part of something. It’s that feeling of belonging to a team, where everyone looks out for everyone else, where you feel important and included, and where other people support and cheer for you. There is something different about my camp friends and school friends. My camp friends and I have been through something special together. We’ve participated in camp traditions; we have a special bond that other friends just don’t have. I feel like I’m part of something bigger when I’m at camp, and this is another reason why I really want to go back.

My little sister has started counting down the days until she can have her first camp experience, and I know that just like my brother and I, she will have many reasons to return to camp year after year!

Taking the Camp Spirit Home

detail-58When camp comes to an end, you pack up your duffels and head home to get ready for another busy school year. When you leave, you leave with a lot more than you came with. Your journal’s full of memories, your phone (which stayed at home) is full of new numbers from all of your new friends, and you leave with a new sense of confidence and independence that you only get when you spend a summer at camp.

There are different ways campers bring a little piece of camp spirit home with them. You may find yourself humming one of the whacky camp tunes as you clean your room, which will bring back memories of campfires and canoeing on the lake.

You may find yourself digging through your laundry bag to find your super comfortable camp t-shirt, the one that reminds you of scoring the winning goal or laughing until you cry alongside your best camp friends. You may search your room for your beloved camp hat or sweatshirt, as the perfectly worn-in feeling brings back warm memories of summer adventures.

Your family members may notice that you come back with a new sense of confidence, a new passion for sports or the arts, or a brand new sense of independence. They may notice that you came home with the camp spirit still dancing inside of you. They may notice you are happier, more active, and more willing to try new things. A lot happens at camp that causes changes and shifts within you, and it’s impossible not to take those experiences and lessons back home. Shy campers may find it easier to make new friends, outgoing campers may learn to find comfort in quiet time and connecting with nature. Camp has this special way of exposing campers to a side of themselves that they may not normally see. This is the spirit of camp that comes home with each and every camper.detail-172

And next summer, when you come back, you’ll be amazed at all of the new things you take home. Year after year, even after you think you’ve experienced everything camp has to offer, you still come home with something new each summer. You may learn that you don’t need to be constantly connected to Wifi to feel connected. You may learn that there is something special about spending time on a great lake in Maine. Every summer, campers take a little something extra home with them that stays with them for the rest of their life.

Lucky for you, a lot of the camp spirit that you take home with you, and carry with you for the rest of your life, won’t take up any extra space in that camp duffel.

Where I Go All Summer and Why I Look so Happy When I Come Back

Every summer, millions of students close their books, say goodbye to homework and depart for summer camp. For a month or two, they stay busy doing activities, exploring nature and making new friends. All that anybody hears from them is the occasional cheery postcard dropped in the mail between activities.

Weeks later, they return home smiling, suntanned and filled with enthusiasm, leaving everyone that stayed home wondering: what happened out there that was such a blast? Their peers who don’t attend summer camp are sure to look up from their phones when everybody gets back to school and ask two questions summer campers know well: “Where have you been? And, why do you look so happy?”

Challenge by Choice Helps You Believe in Yourself

Contrary to popular belief, the real attraction of camp isn’t that it’s easy, or “all fun and games.” The real attraction of summer camp is that it teaches you the rewards that come from new experiences and meeting new challenges. When you realize that challenging things can also be fun, difficulties like homework and making friends at school that used to seem scary and difficult become easy and engaging. You realize that just like any game, the secret is to enjoy playing win or lose. This is an important life lesson and a main reason campers tend to seem happy and energetic.

 Learning that Exercise Can Be Fun

Another reason for all the post-camp smiling might seem obvious to some: physical activity. Endless scientific studies have shown the negative effects that getting too little physical exercise can have on people, particularly young people who are still growing. So, it’s a good thing that summer camp is basically a crash course in exercise, introducing campers to tons of high-energy sports and activities.

Campers don’t just do activities at camp — they take skills home and pursue their passions independently, whether it’s playing for their school sports teams, joining a climbing gym or working on their tennis game.

In short: at camp, the endorphins are flowing!

Digital Detox Works Wonders

Technology isn’t all bad, but most parents agree that spending too much time playing SnapChat stories and scanning Instagram can have a negative social effect on children and teens. After all, can you imagine how different your childhood would be if you hadn’t spent most of it outside, making your own fun with your siblings and friends?

In our digital age kids feel a lot of pressure to stay “active” with a wide range of social media activities, and that can become incredibly stressful, not to mention invite bullying. Camp is a chance for campers to cut their ties to technology and concentrate on the things that make childhood fun. Namely, making new friends, discovering new things, and getting back in touch with nature.

What it All Means

Summer camp has a lot of fun activities, yet when people reminisce about summer camp they aren’t usually talking specifically about sailing, or basketball, or ceramics, or campfires. No, they always talk about “the summer camp experience” — that unmistakable mix of nature, friendship and activities that somehow turns fun and games into a chance for growth and self-discovery.

When you look through photos from time spent at camp, it’s always bittersweet; these are times that go by quickly and are memories that will last forever.

No matter their background, campers will all tell you that camp is a life-changing experience. Campers are introduced to life-long friends, given a chance to practice their real-world social skills, taught the value of unplugging from the digital world and focus on being present in the moment.

With all that summer camp offers, why wouldn’t you look happy when you come home?

Final Week 2016

detail 2We enter the last three days of camp with emotions running high. We’ve just come off a spectacular five days of College Days. It was an incredible culminating special event of the 2016 season. Our Super Seniors did a superb job leading the camp. The Games, Sports, Contests, Songs, Floats, Plaques were as good as ever. Well done Class of 2016!!

Tonight we “dial it down” a bit and start to decompress from the week gone by. Tomorrow we’ll have a Rec Day with fun activities, tennis ladder games, water afternoon and rehearsal for Reprise…a call-back of the finest 2016 acts and performances. We’ll also see a highlights film of the summer produced by our talented Digital Media Department. It will be a great day.

detailThursday we begin to pack, reminisce, spend time with friends and counselors, and get ready for the Final Ceremony…a 67 year old Laurel tradition on the shores of Echo Lake.

We can’t believe the seven weeks are coming to an end. We will cherish every minute until we say our final farewell to the summer of 2016…

College Days 2016

Blog Images-1 As we head into the last week of camp, it’s been a whirlwind of rumor and excitement. First there was the huge Monster Truck atop the roof of the Theater complete with sound effects and lights. Then there were the Super Seniors decked out in Green and Blue in the Dining Hall at lunch rockin’ and rollin’ to “Monster Mash” on the loudspeakers. But no wait…it was all a fake. There’s more to come.

The monster theme continued today. When campers returned to their cabins after lunch, they were met with individual Monster Cards on their beds instructing them to go to the Soccer Field for a surprise. We’ve changed the program. It’s now Monster Days 2017. But no…wait…FAKE! Once we were all gathered to review the new Monster Days theme a huge (and real) MONSTER TRUCK came through the Front gate, made its way to the Soccer Field complete with real 2016 College Days Banners…and it all began! College Days 2016! It was incredible!!Blog Images-2

The Baylor Bears versus the Oklahoma Sooners. Five days of sports, waterfront and track meets, games, contests, cheering, activities, songs and more. A great time to watch our Super Seniors lead the way to an awesome week of fun and spirit. Stay tuned for details and results throughout the week!

The Next Ten Days

detail 142 The next ten days of camp are going to be AWESOME! Now that our older campers have returned from their trips, we’re back as one Laurel Family and getting ready for Lake Swim, Sleeping Beauty, final Camping Trips, final Tournaments and Intercamps and, of course, College Days.  Chants of “” are starting to erupt in the Dining Hall and Cove.

While camp is starting to enter its final stretch of the summer, there’s still lots to do and we won’t miss a beat. Full program is running until this weekend when we enter the cherished College Days.  At that time, the camp will be evenly broken into two teams for five days of spirited competition and fun. No one knows when it will come…or how it will come…but the anticipation is building!

detail 72College Days is a great opportunity to watch our Super Seniors shine for the culmination of their Laurel camp careers. All Super Seniors take a leadership role in College Days and it’s most certainly the most coveted time of their summers with us.

More on College Days later in the week. But for now – it’s back to camp and all the things we love: our Friends, our Counselors, the Activities and so much more.

Back as One

detail 117Our Bec and Bago campers returned from their Extended Trips to Boston and Montreal and they had a great time! Except for our Super Seniors who return this Sunday, we’re all back as one Laurel Family. It was an incredible last week — in camp and out of camp — and we are all excited for the program-filled week that lies ahead. The weather has been incredible and everyone is energized for the next two weeks of camp.

We have a lot in store these next two weeks. Coming up, we’ll be immersed in activities far and wide — on the Ballfields, on the Hard-Courts, on Echo Lake, in the Adventure Courses and in all our Art Studios — all over camp. Trips and Intercamps are still in full swing. Rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty are in high gear. Sixth Period Specials abound in every area of camp. And everyone is excited for their groups “movie trip” a time for campers and counselors to chill out, relax, and take a break from the heat.detail 118

Take a look around Laurel — its crazy to think how fast the last five weeks have flown by. But as we like to say in Readfield: The very best is yet to come!

Reignited for the Next Three Weeks

detail 106With Visiting Day behind us, we’re reignited for the next three weeks of camp and they are chock-full of program, activity, specials events and trips. Our Bec and Bago campers have all departed on their Extended Trips and are having a blast. These trips are a great way to break up the summer and give our oldest campers a brief “teen travel experience.” They are always a summer highlight.

In Readfield, the four lower campuses have the “run of the place” and are taking advantage of every part of camp. We have an incredible week planned for them including the 2016 Olympics, VIP Nites, Dinner Parties, Twilight Waterskiing, Skills Clinics and more.

detail 127While there’s only three weeks left of camp – there’s still so much to do. In every department around camp, skills are being honed and projects expanded upon. Cabins are functioning at their highest levels and friendships are abundant everywhere!! We love watching the relaxed and comfortable  interactions between cabinmates who reunited four weeks ago after ten months away – or met for the first time in late June. It is, of course, the essence of what makes camp… camp.

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