One of the great parts of going to camp in Maine is the natural resources at our disposal. From the rocky coast of Camden and Kennebunkport to Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park — Maine has it all. In addition to our in-camp adventure program (Rock Climbing, Aerial Park and Mountain Biking), Camp Laurel has an extensive Outdoor Tripping program where campers take one, two and three night overnight trips to locations throughout the state.
The trips are relatively low-impact and available to every camper who has an interest in the great outdoors. We encourage all Acadia and Apache campers to try at least one overnight trip – and most do. The expressions on the faces of these young campers when they return to camp, having conquered hiking, sleeping under the stars in a tent and cooking their food over an open fire are priceless.
While we love our in-camp programs, sometimes it’s great to connect with nature and enjoy Maine – The Way Life Should Be!
As we enter the third week of camp, we begin to wind down the “First Rotation” of the summer. This rotation – or scheduling cycle – started on Day 1 and finishes this coming Friday. For the last three weeks, each camper participated in a maximum of 10 programs, thereby allowing focus, structure and skill progression in each of these 10 areas. Instead of participating two or three times, Laurel campers participate every other day in the same activity on a rotating basis, allowing for a much greater mastery of skills.
In addition to a full week of program, five Laurel alumni in their 30s visited this weekend from New York and spent an hour with Jem and Debbie and the Super Seniors talking about their camp experiences. It was a great night as these five terrific former campers (now all highly successful in their own fields) shared their memories of camp. It was a great night!
We had our annual Triathlon yesterday with more than 95 campers participating in this great event. Tonight is our Carnival, a true highlight of the summer with games, bouncy rides, fun-houses, fried dough and more. Our Senior Bec and Bago campers depart tomorrow for their overnight rafting trip on the Kennebec river. And, after Sports night on Thursday, the Laurel Dance Show hits the stage under the lights of the Fieldhouse.
On Saturday – we begin the Second Rotation of the summer. And we’re psyched!!
Going to camp in Maine means spending your summer on an incredible lake. Maine lakes are among the cleanest, biggest and most beautiful in the country.
At Camp Laurel, we are fortunate to be situated on Echo lake, which is 9 miles around and a mile wide.
Echo Lake is home to Camp Laurel and two other camps — Vega and Winnebago. We are part of the Echo Lake Association and take an active role in keeping the quality of the lake extraordinarily high. We are also part of the 30-mile Watershed Association, which monitors the activity of the 7 interconnected lakes around Readfield, Maine.
Every water sport is available to our campers:. Swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, sailing, waterskiing – and campers take advantage of the lake every day. Many – multiple times per day.
Many camps around the country have pools – but very few private camps in Maine have them. They’re not necessary because of the quality of our lakes. It’s been said that because Echo Lake is so clear – you can play cards at the bottom.
While we love all the activities and programs at camp – we particularly love the beauty and recreational opportunities that Echo Lake affords all of us.
Our intercamp calendar is chock full of sports this week: Baseball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Basketball, Softball and Tennis. Our outdoor trips are traversing all over the state: Bradbury State Park; Three Rocks; Camden; Tumbledown Mountain; Belgrade Lakes and Acadia. We take a break mid-week to hit the best water parks in Maine and enjoy the beautiful July weather. And, of course, program is in full swing in Readfield.
From every corner of camp, campers are taking advantage of our incredible staff and their expertise. While the core team sports (soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse) are required for all campers 7th grade and under (plus Tennis and Instructional Swim), we have 25 other programs and activities from which campers can select for their weekly schedule. We are incredibly proud of the high level of instruction and curriculum at camp. We can’t wait for you to see the progress your children make when they return home in early August. From Dance to Fitness to Chef Camp, Equestrian to the Aerial Park and Waterskiing, the level of expertise in our programs is remarkable. In fact, one of the great parts of our program is our One-On-None instructional sessions, where campers participate in small groups with other skill-appropriate campers and an instructor for an one intensive training in one of our core activity areas.
While we’re staying busy with our remarkable program, intercamps and trips; we can’t wait until tomorrow’s July 4th BBQ Dinner and Fireworks Show over Echo Lake!!
Our first week together was incredible. Campers and counselors are settled into their cabins and it feels like we never left. We’re in the midst of our first program cycle – or First Rotation – and after a full week of in-camp activities, leagues, programs and special events, we look forward to the weekend ahead.
Today we break up the routine and daily schedule and have our first S-Day of the summer – the Quest. Quest is a favorite and storied all-camp event, led by our Super Seniors. The camp’s intentionally broken up into 16 small teams, across all age groups, and campers spend the day in fun and friendly competition. It’s a great, spirited day and a chance for our Super Seniors to show their leadership skills to the whole camp for the first time this summer. Even though the Quest is friendly fun – everyone wants to win the grand prize: a full service Chinese Food Buffet Dinner at Alliquippa (Jem and Debbie’s cabin). We can’t wait!
It was a flawless Arrival Day on Saturday and by Sunday morning, we were in full program at camp. From the Equestrian Center to the Lacrosse Field, the Dance Center to ChefCamp and the Lake to the Mountain Biking Track – we were off and running. Structure and routine is so important for the first few days of camp and we had everyone moving with their groups all over camp. The weather was — and continues to be — magnificent. It was so great and fulfilling to see campers and counselors quickly become a summer family.
After our first A Day on Sunday, we slid into our first B Day today, which will be followed by campus evening programs including the Sequoia Hockey Combine, the Bago Football Combine, Apache Egg Drop and Baxter Scavenger Photo Hunt and, of course, the all-important Acadia and Apache Camp Brother and Sister pairings with the older Bec and Bago campers. Tonight, everyone in camp will have a Big Brother or Sister and “camp families” will be born.
We have an amazing first week in store…and the fun is just beginning!!
As we await the arrivals of our campers from far and near, our entire staff is pumped, energized and counting down the hours. Our campers from the West Coast arrive this evening to get adjusted to East-Coast-Living, and then tomorrow it’s all systems go as we welcome everyone back to Readfield for our 68th summer together.
It feels like just yesterday we were hugging and saying our goodbyes at the Closing Ceremony – but tomorrow night it’s back to the shore of Echo Lake for our Opening Campfire to welcome everyone home.
We couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead. Sure, there are going to be some very normal butterflies and nerves. But before each camper closes their eyes in their cabins tomorrow night – they’ll know their new summer family is fully ready to watch over them for the next seven weeks. The fun is about to begin!!
Our full staff arrived last Friday and we are immersed in our Counselor Orientation program. While our leadership team has been here for a week prior – it’s the counselors now who have the spotlight as we get to know each other, learn the Camp Laurel program, philosophy and get ready for this coming Saturday!!
Our staff looks amazing. We have an incredible group of returning leadership personnel, Department Heads, Campus Leaders and Counselors, all joined by a fantastic crop of newcomers. They come from near and far, from Manhattan Beach, California to Manhattan NYC…all ready to share the Camp Laurel experience with you!!
Our Head Counselor team is perhaps the finest anywhere. Led by Assistant Director Peter Buehner (16 Laurel years), Jon Miller (10 Laurel years), Lauren Keane (9 Laurel years) and Joie Piccati (11 Laurel years) are truly a dream team.
Camp looks great. The fields are lined. The courts are freshly painted. The new docks at the waterfront look amazing. The Lodge is complete. Now all we need are the best campers anywhere! We can’t wait to see you Saturday!!
If you watch television or go to the movies, it’s very easy to spot the hero. He or she flies through the air, conquering villains and protecting the world from alien invaders. Or maybe it’s the police officer keeping the streets safe or the firefighter rescuing the cat from tall trees. The truth is, everyday heroes are all around us and we all have a hero within ourselves. Camp is a great place for us to summon our inner hero and make a difference in the lives of others.
Being a staff member at camp is no easy task; counselors work extremely long hours and are asked to wear many hats. They must get their campers places on time, instruct 5 or 6 activity periods a day, make sure everyone brushes their teeth before bed, and the list goes on and on. And then, counselors repeat this routine day in day out with little time off. When counselors choose to go above and beyond – they really show their true heroism. The counselor who spends extra time with a child missing home and helps that camper discover their love of camp and how much fun it can be to be part of the group – that’s a hero! The nurse who shows empathy to a camper who doesn’t feel well and might have to spend a night in the Health Center: once again, a hero. Camp offers many opportunities for staff members to show heroism, and many do just that, day in and day out.
And you don’t have to be an adult to be a hero. Even the youngest campers can show a heroic side. Cheering for a friend who’s nervous about performing in the play; inviting a new camper to do something special so they feel included in the group; cheering for the team through wins or losses. Those things can make heroes of the very youngest of us.
Maybe this is what makes the camp experience so special. Maybe the ability to both be and have a hero is what makes us return to our summer home year after year, or maybe it’s our ability to be the best version of ourselves and allow others to discover and be the best versions of themselves!
The temperature is rising, the birds are chirping and summer is on the horizon. Whether it’s your first or 51st summer heading to camp, there are a lot of necessary preparations to be made. There’s packing your belongings, spreading the word to all your friends and of course getting excited! Here are some tips and tricks for getting prepared to leave for the summer:
There are not many people in the world who enjoy the process of packing; it’s a process that is necessary for every trip, but one that can be tedious and tiresome. So let’s make it fun!! Make it a family project and pack well in advance. Once ready to begin, you should lay out all clothing you will need by following the camp clothing list. Considering camp provides a laundry service, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. You can then determine what’s missing from there and make the necessary purchases…and don’t forget to pack your wacky costumes!
Spreading the Word
One of the greatest parts about camp is being “removed” from the outside world. Having the ability to unplug is truly unique in today’s world, but unplugging does not mean disappearing without a trace. If you want people to write to you, or don’t want them to get upset when you don’t answer your phone, you need to get the word out that you’re going to camp all summer. One efficient way to do that is to create a social media post on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter or even all of them. Writing letters is a lost concept, so who wouldn’t be excited about a post saying “I’m going to camp…write to me!!”. You can also create pre-addressed labels to hand out to your friends making writing letters to you simple and easy.
Getting excited may sound like a simple and unnecessary task, but it’s actually the opposite. At camp, you get what you give; the more enthused and animated you are, the better your experience will be. A great way to get excited for the summer is to watch and re-watch the camp videos. Getting a glimpse of all the familiar faces and locations that you will be seeing really gets you psyched! Along the same lines, contacting your camp friends – new, old or even prospective – really helps remind you how much you love camp. Either reminiscing or anticipating together is always better than alone.
While all of these tasks are very important to being prepared for the summer, the most important is to remember…YOU’RE IN FOR THE SUMMER OF YOUR LIFE! We’ll see you soon 🙂