Defining the Laurel Spirit

We’ve heard Jem say it many times. It’s such a simple request, but one that has taken root at Camp Laurel over the years. It’s a staple of the Camp Laurel experience. Be kinder than necessary. It may seem overly simplistic, but when put into action, is one of the cornerstones for the family vibe at Camp Laurel. It reminds everyone that we’re on the same team and have the same goal. At camp, acts of kindness are routinely celebrated. Small acts of goodwill toward others build up, creating the foundation for our culture.

There are so many opportunities to be kinder than necessary every day at camp. At activities, it’s seen through the praise and support we have for one another. Campers and counselors remain competitive and sportsmanlike in athletics. Positive feedback pushes campers toward new literal heights on the climbing wall. Artists find new ways to refine their creative work in InterArts. This attitude is entrenched in our Camp Brother, Camp Sister programs. Prospective families touring Camp Laurel always mention the welcoming smiles and friendly demeanor of everyone around camp.

The message may sound simple: Be kinder than necessary. But it’s a key building block for a successful summer. Campers and counselors go out of their way to look out for each other. It creates a ripple effect, allowing for a perpetually upbeat atmosphere. And that’s what the Laurel Spirit is all about!

Back to School

You may have begun to notice that, ever so slowly, the nights are beginning to turn a bit cooler and the sun is rising a bit later. This could only mean that Fall is upon us, and school is right around the corner. Of course, school will look different for everyone this year.

Whether it’s online, in-person or a hybrid, students and teachers will be together again. Conversations will be had about what we did during our extended break and how different 2020 has been than any year in memory.  We’ve heard over and over how much our campers and counselors missed being at Camp Laurel: missing the routines, missing learning new skills, missing the outdoors, and, mostly, missing camp friends and the chance to be mentored by our amazing staff. We all are yearning for the community and unconditional acceptance we feel at camp.

As our campers head back to school, please know that we missed sharing everything with you, but we’re one step closer to being together on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!

Celebrating Independence Day

It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Echo Lake over the weekend. Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to have celebrated Independence Day together in Maine.  We’re grateful for the fun programs our Department Heads plan like Red, White and Boogie at Dance, Ring the Liberty Bell at Climbing, US Open Tournament at Tennis and countless others. Of course, the special July 4th Cookout and the best fireworks show in Maine cap off an amazing day.

We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.

We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s Independence Day on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!

Camp Activities at Home

We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. We came up with a list of fun Camp Laurel activities that can be done to keep things interesting. We’d also love to hear the at-home ideas our Camp Laurel family is up to in the comments below!

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are one of the many team-building activities we utilize when camp opens to create a great community with awesome communication. Want to make it fun while also being productive? Get your camp duffels out and set up clues for items your campers will bring to camp. The duffel can be home for the clues and items they find around the house. This is a great way to generate excitement for camp.

Backyard or Indoor Camping

Nothing beats being with friends in the great outdoors. And now is a great time to ease into the world of outdoor camping by setting up a tent in the yard or living room. Don’t have a tent? Make a fort with blankets and pillows. A fun activity for parents and children, this can easily be modified by setting up a digital camp hangout with your friends. It’s also the perfect excuse for some Indoor S’mores!

Change the Channel

Change the Channel is a theatre game that’s stood the test of time because it relies on imagination and improvisation. Setup is simple: start with two or more actors and one director. The director gives the actors a scene (like waterskiing on Echo Lake with a boat driver and skier). At any time, the Director yells ‘Freeze!’ and trades places with one of the actors who then becomes the director and sets up a new scene with the frozen actors before calling out ‘Action!’

Write Letters

Camp is the best place for pen pals. And now is the perfect time to reach out to your camp friends, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles as an old school (or digital) pen pal. As a (massive) bonus, this will help your campers get into the habit of writing before camp starts, netting parents some extra letters when the temperature heats up!

Maine and the Great Outdoors

People always ask me about my favorite aspects of summer camp. That list could go on forever: community, independence, friendship, activities, teamwork, facilities, personal growth. Staying unplugged and tuned into the world is a key ingredient for all those benefits. Children (and counselors) spend so much of their year in classrooms and their free time plugged in. One of the things camp people look forward to so much is a change in their environment. And there’s no better place for this switch than Maine.

Camp Laurel is in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked among tall pine trees nestled on gorgeous Echo Lake: Maine is the definition of natural beauty. The views of the surrounding forest are a welcome change to the skyscraper backdrop of the big cities from where our campers come. Breathing in the crisp Maine each summer is an amazing experience. The acres and acres of lush green fields give our campers a connection to the nature around them. Campers are also able to take advantage of day-hikes and camping excursions to state parks, Acadia National Park and local spots we’ve been frequenting to for decades.

When campers reminisce about their time at Camp Laurel they always talk about their “experience” rather than specific activities. They mention that distinct mix of friendship, community and nature. It’s a life-changing experience and one that Maine provides in the best way.

Something’s In The Air…

Everyone knows it’s coming, we just don’t know when. The chants of “Ketchup…Mustard…Mayonnaise, We Want College Days” can be heard everywhere. First, Saturday night’s dinner, “Pizza in the Pavilion” threw everyone for a loop. Then the Super Seniors not attending the Bec and Bago movie trip was another mis-clue. And now, tonight after the Dance Show, everyone is sure it’s happening. Only time will tell!

 

As regular program comes to a close, we slip into Sports Night Championships tomorrow morning and, sometime after that, the beginning of our five-day culminating event: College Days 2019. We’ll have regular updates on social media and daily on “Laurel Today.” For now, stay tuned and enjoy!!

Culminating Program Week

It’s very, very hard to believe there are only four days left of Program (actually, somewhere between 3 and 5 days, but we won’t say exactly lest you figure out when College Days will “break.”  It’s incredibly rewarding to see campers taking incredible advantage of their last regular program days of the summer. Mastering skills; finishing arts projects; dropping a ski for the first time; challenging a group-mate on the Tennis Ladder; challenging themselves in Dance or Fitness; scaling the Climbing Tower; running the Fit Trail; learning a new recipe in ChefCamp. The list goes on and on.

It was an action-packed week highlighted by the Triathlon and Lake Swim.

This weekend will feature great weather, and we’ll continue to play through until our Super Seniors tell us otherwise; after all, it’s they who help mastermind the start of our summer culminating activity. We’ll keep you up-to-date on all the goings-on in Readfield, and hope your weekend at home is going to be as special as ours, here on the eastern shore of our favorite lake!

Sheer Happiness…

During the summer season, many people visit camp while it’s in session. Some are alumni, some are colleagues, but most are families who are looking at which camp to send their children to the following year.

We show them around camp; introduce them to lots of campers and counselors; show them the facilities, cabins, and Lodge; give them a ride in one of our five Mastercrafts ski boats; and give them a snack.

 

Many of the camps these families are touring have really nice Tennis Courts, Fitness Centers, Culinary Centers, Ropes Courses and Lakes. (We’re biased, of course, and think ours are truly special). But the overwhelming comment we receive from these visitors is not at all about the facilities. It’s about the people. Their mood. Their sense of comfort. Their smiles. And the spirit and happiness they exude.

We couldn’t agree more when these visitors tell us they select Laurel for the environment and the community we’ve built here in Readfield. That makes us happy and makes us smile more than anything else!

Super Seniors 2019

One of the things we speak about a lot at camp is “modeling.”  Modeling good behavior, appropriate language, social responsibility, good sportsmanship and so on. We, of course, expect and trust our counselors to be excellent role models. We also except – and appreciate – when good modeling comes from our oldest campers: Super Seniors.

Becoming a Super Senior at Laurel is a right of passage. Some of our Super Seniors have been with us for four or five years, and others have been at camp for seven or eight. Whether a Super Senior grew up with us or started in Readfield later in their camping career, they have united as one group this season and are an incredibly well-respected, energetic and fun group.

It’s been gratifying to watch the Super Senior Class of 2019 emerge the last five weeks and, although they are currently out-of-camp on their seven-day Extended Trip throughout Maine and New Hampshire, we look forward to their return and the leadership and spirit they’ll exhibit during the last two weeks of the summer.

Growing Up at Camp Laurel

Looking back at my first summer at Camp Laurel I fondly and vividly remember getting off the bus to loads and loads of cheering campers and counselors. I met my counselors and my new friends and made my way to my cabin where my bed was neatly made. Arriving at camp for the first time felt like a whirlwind, and then it was calm as I read the letter from my parents that was waiting on my pillow.

Heading into my Super Senior summer, I remember cheering for the same friends – and all the younger campers – as they got off the bus. Some had butterflies – I’m sure – like I hadn’t since my first summer. I watched with excitement as the youngest campers eagerly awaited meeting their counselors and cabinmates. I also felt a twinge of sadness because I knew that even though the summer I’d been looking forward to every year at camp was here, it meant I was that much closer to my final days as a camper.

Experiences at camp summer after summer brought remarkable transformations to my life. Over the years I learned to trust others, build relationships, accept guidance and develop decision-making skills. More than that, the friendships I made and the memories we created will last a lifetime. Spending my summers growing up at Camp Laurel has shaped me in the most positive ways.