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.
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.
Traditions, friends, life skills, self-esteem…campers may not realize it all at once, but the benefits of camp go on forever. It’s always a great thrill seeing our teenage campers take on leadership roles at camp. For many of them, it’s their first experience being called on to lead others. Whether it’s spending time with their Camp Little Brother or Camp Little Sister – carrying on traditions or setting the right example – Camp Laurel naturally allows campers to become role models and mentors to younger campers.
At Camp Laurel, our oldest campers in Bec and Bago get the best of both worlds. They’re still connecting with friends they’ve grown up with each summer but have the added bonus of passing on camp traditions. Campers remember looking up to older campers from their first summers. For many of them, being a mentor is one of the best aspects of Camp Laurel. The pride of being a leader brings many former campers back to camp as counselors.
Camp is so much more than hanging with friends and being away from home for the summer. Of course, it’s fun and allows campers to unplug, enjoy nature and build lifelong friendships. But it’s also a growing and maturing experience, and naturally develops leadership qualities they’ll use through their life.
Summer is a few months away, and for college students searching for a summer job or internship, it’s right around the corner. Every year students compete for unpaid internships with lofty ambitions that they’re getting a foot in the door for their future careers. While there are great opportunities to be had in corporate settings, few summer gigs are as beneficial as working at camp. Here are some of the best incentives for working at Camp Laurel this summer!
Gaining Leadership Skills
Just like teaching in a classroom, being a camp counselor instantly puts you in a position to lead campers of different ages and skill levels. You’re constantly forging bonds with campers and other counselors, leading activities and communicating. Camp counselors quickly learn how to lead, because they understand the more engaging an activity is, the happier their campers are.
We often say that a day at camp is like a week outside of camp, and camp people know that all too well. What’s better than a job where your coaching or instructing in the morning, making up new games during cabin time, and acting out your alter-ego on stage for a laugh in the evening? Camp gets you out of your comfort zone in the best way and allows the creative juices to flow every day.
Make Lifelong Friends
Camp is an immersive experience and there’s nothing else like it. Working alongside your peers is one thing, but living with them 24/7 is an entirely different experience. Campers and counselors alike build some of their truest, deepest friendships at Camp Laurel every summer!
Is there anything worse than squandering amazing summer days in an office? At Laurel you’re outside every day. It’s the perfect place to unplug, lace up and explore the beauty of Maine!
Make a Genuine Impact!
Campers are at a time in their lives when they’re looking for mentors, and Laurel is such a natural place to find them. It’s always the little things that count, and being there every day for your campers adds up to a lot of little (and big) moments that make a difference each summer. Counselors often don’t fully realize the impact they’ve made, but campers remember their counselors forever.
Twelve summers ago, I heard about Camp Laurel through one of my college friends. I knew very little about summer camps and Maine. I remember looking at the website and thinking it would be a fun adventure before finding internships for future summers. Back then, very few websites had any videos at all, and I landed in Maine with few expectations.
Now, I tell new counselors how jealous I am that they’re about to experience Laurel for the first time. It’s like the notes of a great song or opening an inspiring book. As soon as it’s over, you want to tell everyone about it. That’s how Laurel is to me. But unlike a song that might get old, working at Laurel is the same rewarding experience every summer.
Each fall, my family and friends that haven’t experienced the joy of Camp Laurel ask me why I keep going back. I always start with the traditions, activities and working outside in beautiful Maine. That’s what they can understand without truly living 10 months for two. They feel my enthusiasm for Laurel. But, beyond the facilities, traditions and Echo Lake, there’s one thing that stands above everything else: the community.
Camp Laurel is special because of the people. From the counselors to the health center to the office and support staff, Camp Laurel is filled with amazing people who are passionate about what they’re doing. Most importantly, everyone has the same goal of giving our campers the best summer possible.
One thing parents love so much about camp is that it has a unique way of shifting the mindset of campers. A summer at camp is a summer away from social media and texting and a time focused on nature, real relationships, character building and fun!
Camp Laurel immerses campers in a world unlike anything they’re used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.
Camp is a place full of big adventures and big fun. But amidst all that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From the quiet beauty of a bonfire or the thrill of climbing the rock wall, campers learn to look for the little things that add up to make a big difference in their camp experience.
With social media playing such a huge role in the lives of kids and teens, many parents wonder if their child could survive without checking Instagram or taking 20+ snaps on the way to school. Without technology and social media to worry about, kids can focus on what they do best: being kids. They have the entire summer to focus on making friends and having fun and they learn that being in the moment is far more important than finding the perfect filter to capture the moment. Social media has its advantages of course, but at camp, campers learn a valuable lesson: their worth is not defined by how many followers they have or how many likes their pictures get.
Camp changes the way campers see the world. By spending their summers at Camp Laurel, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.
What a week gone by with so much more to look forward to.
We started our Second Rotation of the summer Saturday and we’re off and running. All program areas are in high gear and the skill progression in every facet of camp is evident and noticeable. From the Tennis Courts to the Lacrosse Fields, the Aerial park to Mountain Biking, and the Fitness Center and Dance Studio to the Soccer Pitch, it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished in just under four weeks.
This week we have more instructional days and some great special events at night. Eric the Amazing Illusionist delighted and dazzled us last night and tonight Laurel Theatre presents High School Musical 2 as performed by our four older campuses. Our older campers have been rehearsing for three weeks in anticipation of tonight’s extravaganza. Thursday is the annual Group Sing and we’re psyched to see who will wear this summer’s crown! Group Sing is always a summer highlight.
Intercamps and Tournaments are in full swing…campers are loving their overnight excursions all over Maine…and, of course, we’re getting excited for Visiting Weekend coming up this Saturday.
Camp Laurel is a virtual city in itself. And the cabins are the campers’ summer homes. While Camp Laurel has great facilities – on the water and on land – it’s the cabins that really make camp a homey, warm and comfortable environment for each camper.
While the Camp Laurel day starts with wake-up at 7:45 AM (or 8:15 AM for older campers) we are “on the move” all day long. The cabin is a special place where each child’s summer family (campers and counselors) comes together to share the day, spend quality time and, of course, sleep. In addition to each child’s cabin, campers are also a member of a “campus.” That’s the area of camp where children live, hang out, play ping pong and pop-a-shot, spend their free time and bond with not just their cabin – but 35-45 campers in their own age group. While the camp day is frenetic, the campus is a great place to relax, unwind, play some cards, tell stories, share a joke and chill.
We’re so pumped for Week 4 coming up. The summer is literally flying by but there’s lots more to come, including the beginning of Second Rotation Activities which start tomorrow. We’re psyched!
We recently listened to a man who has spent many, many years studying the effects of play on humans. While it sounds a lot like our job as camp directors, he’s got the Ph.D. so we thought to give him our attention. We are glad we did.
Dr. Stuart Brown said several fascinating things about Play:
It overrides what is sometimes fixed in our natures – it brings individuals together in ways which allow them to expand their knowledge of others and the world around them.
If the purpose is more important than the act of doing it, it’s probably not play.
People who have not played with their hands (fixing and building) do not solve problems as well.
The basis of human trust is established through play signals. We begin to lose those signals as we age.
When you look at camp through the prism of these statements on play, you encounter a big ‘duh!’ moment. Watching our campers play together shows you how the common act of laughing together, or playing gaga, or chase, or different table games allows the kids to spread their wings and learn.
While we have a good bit of unstructured play at camp but, there is also a great deal of play within teams such as soccer, basketball, baseball, dance teams, and more. Campers build trust with their teammates, learn from mistakes, and are taught to keep a great attitude throughout their time at camp.
In woodworking, robotics, and ceramics, we give kids a great opportunity to explore with their hands and make, fix, and tear apart things they don’t normally at home. These experiences lead to wonderful outcomes both over the short and the long term.
Thankfully, Dr. Brown reminds us that we, as humans, are designed to play throughout our lifetimes. We couldn’t agree more. And, since play signals help build trust, we hire camp counselors who show the right mix of maturity and experience while keeping playfulness close to the surface.
We are excited to remain a place where play leads to several much needed outcomes: relationship formation, the development of confidence and independence, and a community in which campers know they are accepted. Whether through our traditions, choice based program, evening activities or during free time, our campers laugh and learn while playing!
The big day is near. Soon, your child leaves home for a summer of fun, excitement and growth.
Scary, isn’t it?
Sure. New experiences usually are. But we’ve got some ideas to help.
Talk with your child. And we mean “talk honestly.” It’s great to chirp about the wonderful days ahead. But be sure to acknowledge that fears and worries are okay. They’re normal. Let your son or daughter know that everyone – even you! – gets nervous before doing something different. Remind your child that directors, campus leaders, counselors and staff members know about nerves – and they’ll be there to talk, day or night.
Don’t say, “And if you get homesick, you can come home!” Though reassuring, it sends the wrong message. It focuses on the negative – and undermines the idea that you’ve selected that camp because you trust the directors and counselors so much. Emphasize instead that while homesickness is normal, it goes away – and everyone at camp will help make it disappear. (It’s also a good idea to not say too much how much you’ll miss your child – or how badly everyone will feel that they’re not at the annual 4th of July fireworks or family reunion.)
Prepare together. Read the packing list with your child. Go shopping with him or her. Your child will pick out items he or she really likes – while at the same time sharing a quiet, unhurried conversation about camp.
Reinforce camp policies on things like cell phones. You may want to give your child a phone to call home “just in case” — but that’s the wrong “call.” For one thing, it contradicts what you’re saying about the counselors’ and directors’ ability to help. For another, it encourages “bending the rules.” For a third, it shifts your child’s focus from having fun and making new friends, to sneaking off and being alone.
Don’t let your own anxieties affect your child. As a parent, you may feel trepidation too. You’ll miss your child – and fear you’ll miss out on his or her growth. That’s natural. But don’t burden your kid with those thoughts. Tell your spouse and friends instead!
Camp is a time of independence. Of spreading wings. Of making new friends, forming strong bonds and creating vivid memories in a non-family, out-of-school environment. The days leading up to camp may be anxious – for campers and their parents. But the rewards will be well worth a week or two of very normal nerves.
We can’t wait to see your son or daughter at camp!!!