Camp Laurel Blog

Routine Begins and Off We Go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

It’s Finally Here!!

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!!

Staff Orientation in Full Swing

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!!

Everyday Heroes at Camp

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.

STAFF

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.

CAMPERS

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!

CAMP PREP 101

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:

Packing

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

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 🙂

Working as a Counselor to Boost your Resume

If you’re a college student contemplating spending a summer away at camp, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “being a camp counselor is better than an internship”. You’ve also heard a long list of reasons why being a counselor would benefit you; you develop better self-understanding, grow tremendously on a personal level, have a positive and significant influence on the lives of children…the list goes on and on. But has anyone ever told you that being a camp counselor is actually a boost to your resume. Well it’s true! Here are a couple reasons why:

Working at Camp Shows Diverse Interests and Skills

Every accountant knows how to crunch numbers and every doctor knows how to diagnose patients, but what else is required for their jobs? There’s no such thing as a one-dimensional job; in any job employees are required to perform a variety of tasks, and as such, applicants are required to demonstrate a wide range of skills. Camp helps accentuate these diverse skills and interests. While you may gain valuable accounting skills interning at an accounting firm and valuable medical skills shadowing a doctor, you won’t gain the versatility you would while working at camp. Working as a camp counselor requires you to be adaptable, flexible, and resourceful. Interviewers don’t just desire employees with these skills, they seek out camp counselors because of them.

Working at Camp Shows Great Management Skills

Being a camp counselor doesn’t just show you are multi-talented, it also shows that you have great management skills. While most internships place you at the “bottom of the totem pole,” as a camp counselor you are instantly thrust into the action. You are responsible for a group of children who are significantly more unpredictable than any coworker you may ever have. In order to manage campers effectively, counselors must hone their management skills, and they must do it quickly as the summer is a relatively short period of time. But it’s not just managing people, counselors also learn to manage their time effectively and work as part of a group for the greater good; skills that are paramount to most employers.

So in a time when the majority of people are getting internships…differentiate yourself and work at camp. Your future employer will thank you!

Resilience

re·sil·ience | rəˈzilyəns | noun | 1.the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Camp has this incredible way of impacting so many people in so many different ways. When campers think they are spending the summer simply having fun, they often have no idea the character, social skills and self-confidence they are building at the same time. Camp helps foster empathy toward others. It makes them responsible, kind and brave. It also makes them resilient.

Campers are pushed (gently) out of their comfort zones every day when they are at camp. They are encouraged to try and new things. Sometimes they make mistakes, but campers are taught that the only time you fail is when you stop trying. Because of this attitude, campers learn to pick themselves up and brush themselves off. They learn to face adversity — a skill they carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Counselors teach campers that being tough doesn’t mean you’re void of emotions. You can be brave and scared at the same time. It’s okay to cry, feel frustrated, even walk away if you need a break. It’s okay to ask for help. Campers face different kinds of challenges all summer, from attempting the ropes course, swimming for the first time, conquering stage fright or just introducing themselves to new people. But every time they face a fear, even if they struggle, they become a little more resilient each time. They learn to embrace stepping out of their comfort zone.

Self-confidence is not something that comes naturally to all campers, but it is something they develop after a summer at camp. They naturally begin to see themselves as capable, smart, brave, athletic, kind, interesting and strong. It sets a solid foundation for the people they are becoming.

Camp helps mold campers into confident and resilient individuals, all disguised as the best summer they’ve ever had.

The Value of Communal Living at a Young Age

We’ve all heard horror stories of not-so-great college roommates; the ones who are dirty, irresponsible, rude or have no self-awareness. It raises the question, if these people would have been exposed to more communal living experiences growing up, would they be better roommates as adults? Living with others is a skill that many children only learn from living with their families. Many children never share a room or living spaces with people other than their family until they go away to college. So, it’s no surprise that these children may struggle when it comes to etiquette and social norms that come with communal living.

Spending a summer at camp is a great way to prepare your child for the realities of living with other people in their adulthood. It helps them become aware of their surroundings and the way they impact others.

Early risers learn to occupy their time quietly and respectfully in the mornings without waking up others. Night owls learn to keep things quiet once it’s time for “lights out.” Children who are used to being disorganized at home learn that their messiness affects others when sharing a cabin, and they begin to learn the importance of organization and cleanliness. Sharing a cabin also teaches campers to respect property that is not theirs, such as the beds in the cabin, the bathrooms, etc. They learn to be aware and careful about how they treat things that are not their own.

From day one at camp, campers are taught about their roles and responsibilities as a member of a specific cabin. Counselors know that this may be a camper’s first time living with others, so they use gentle reminders and guidance to help campers keep their personal spaces tidy, stay organized, and to respect the other campers around them. Every day at camp is a new opportunity to learn valuable life skills and prepares them to be respectful and responsible roommates in the future.

Living together with 8-10 peers gives campers the chance to learn how to deal with different personality styles. It gives them a chance to practice their communication and conflict management skills.

Nobody goes into parenthood with a goal to raise a “nightmare” roommate. All parents want to raise kind, considerate, self-aware human beings who others like being around and, eventually, living with. Gifting your child with a summer away at camp is about more than sports and campfires. It is about learning valuable life lessons that will help them become a more productive member of society.

Your child will thank you. And so will their future college roommates.

That’s So Camp!

According to the American Camp Association, there are about 8,400 overnight camps in the United States. With that many camps, there are obviously numerous differences between one camp and the next. Some camps have lakes while others have a pool; there are full season, 7-week camps and there are multi-session camps. The list of differences could go on forever, but while all camps are different, there are certain aspects that stay the same. These aspects are “perennially camp” and are the reason that summer camp is so important to those who attend. Without these staples, camp just wouldn’t be the same!

Campfires and S’mores

When people think about camp, one of the first things that come to mind is a campfire…and no campfire is complete without s’mores! But campfires and s’mores represent way more than just a mellow night with a delicious treat — they represent bringing people together. At any campfire, campers are surrounded by friends and counselors. There is no need for television, phones or technology of any kind. Instead campers enjoy each other’s company. There is a quaint and quiet simplicity that in today’s world is very hard to find.

Songs and Spirit

If campfires and s’mores are the first thing that comes to mind when people think about camp, songs and spirit are a close second. And similarly to campfires and s’mores, songs and spirit are about bringing people together. The unity that is formed from learning a camp song or from having pride in your camp is unmatched. This unity is not the only benefit of the songs and spirit of camp; they also instill a sense of tradition in campers. Many of the songs sung at camp have been around for decades. They are a great way to connect current campers to alumni and form a bond between generations who might not have had anything in common otherwise.

Campfires and s’mores may bring people together, and songs and spirit may keep traditions alive, but ultimately camp would not be camp without positive energy. No matter what camp you attend, the amount of support, love and camaraderie is unlike anywhere else in the world. While all camps differ for various reasons, perennially camp traditions are alive everywhere.

Being Kinder Than Necessary at Camp

Being nice to others; such a simple act, yet many struggle with it. How often do you hold the door for a stranger, do a favor for someone without a prompt, or give out a compliment just to make a person’s day? These simple endeavors may seem insignificant, but to the recipient they are substantial. The smallest of notions can make the largest of differences. At camp, kindness is a staple; it is embedded in the core values that are taught and practiced daily. But how exactly does camp show the value of being nice to others?

Reinforcing Kindness

At camp, random acts of kindness are not just performed regularly, they are celebrated. Whether a seven-year-old child or a 45-year-old adult, people are constantly being friendly and kind at camp…and they can’t escape the “shout-out” received for doing something nice. All good deeds, no matter how small, are recognized. This recognition helps reinforce the positive behavior and makes people more likely to repeat their actions. This is why camp is very successful at reinforcing kindness; the more good deeds you do, the more recognition you get, the happier you feel and the more likely you are to continue doing good deeds. This continuous cycle allows for a perpetually positive and kind atmosphere, one that keeps people coming back to camp summer after summer.

Kindness is Contagious

Have you ever heard the phrase “laughter is contagious”? At camp it’s not just laughter that’s contagious – kindness is contagious. Because being friendly is the norm, you can look in any direction and you will probably see someone performing a good deed. The constant exposure to good deeds creates a ripple effect. One person is friendly to a second and this second person instantly wants to be friendly to a third. Kindness spreads like wildfire and before you know it, everyone is being nice. In today’s world where kindness is at a premium…what more could one ask?

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