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!
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.
I consider myself very fortunate to spend my summers at Camp Laurel on Echo Lake. I remember thinking the name of the lake was something really special my first summer. Many of my favorite camp memories are traced back to the time spent in the water: jumping on the trampoline, passing a level in swim and waterskiing for the first time all rush through my head.
As I look back on those memories they come into a greater focus. I can picture one of my favorite counselors giving me instructions from the boat while I put on my skis. I can hear the lifeguard reminding my friends and I of the waterfront rules while she strapped on my life vest. I still feel nostalgic about getting out of the lake for the last time as a camper, wishing I had one more summer with the friends I grew up with.
It’s only in looking back now that I realize the magic of Echo Lake is tied to the people as much as it is to the location. The waterski counselors were so excited when I first got up skis. My friends and counselors were always ready to have a great time. As a counselor now, it’s through that lens that I’m reminded of the magic of Echo Lake.
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.
As we approach the mid-point of Week #2, it’s so gratifying to look back and see all we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. The past ten days have been non-stop activity and beautiful weather. It was great to take a break today, head out of camp on day trips, recharge our batteries, decompress, and enjoy the great state of Maine.
After an incredible July 4th cookout and fireworks celebration last night, our youngest Acadians and Apaches ventured to FunTown USA for a day of rides, friends, and splashing around in the wave pools. It’s another warm and sunny Maine day, so the waterpark is a very welcome retreat. Our Junior Baxter and Sequoia campers hit Aquaboggan for their water adventure, while Senior Baxter and Sequoia group toured the seaside town of Boothbay Harbor, and its rocky coast, fishing boats and terrific coastal sights. Bec and Bago are in Old Port at the docks, home of some of the best lobstering in the world. Our Super Seniors enjoyed their day – and encore – at SplashTown.
We hit the regular program stride again tomorrow and it’s a menu of activity from the Ball Fields to the Courts, the Playhouse to the Equestrian Center, the Climbing Towers to the Metals Studio…and more.! And let’s not forget about Sunday night’s annual Ronny Romm Hypnotism Show – a summer highlight! We can’t wait for the weekend and the week ahead.
We’re sailing, climbing, hiking and riding our way to summer one training session at a time. Our full staff arrive tomorrow, but summer is well underway with several Pre-Orientation trainings. We’ve welcomed our Campus Leaders, Athletic and Inter Arts Department Heads, Adventure, Medical, Equestrian and Sailing staff. For returners it’s been a great week re-connecting with colleagues and greeting new staff. First-timers are learning what makes Camp Laurel the wonderful place it is.
These incoming staff groups are always thrilled to arrive at Laurel. Small Crafts staff have extra time on the water to familiarize themselves with Echo Lake and our fleet of boats. Adventure counselors go through specialized training focused on safety and curriculum within their specific programs – outdoor tripping, climbing or aerial park. Our administrative team of Department Heads, Program Area Directors and Campus Leaders is made up of an almost entirely veteran crew and they’re preparing to lead our counselors through Orientation.
For the next week, staff will learn about their job as camp counselors: living and taking care of campers, and teaching at a program area. Everyone is smiling, the Laurel spirit is alive and well around camp and we’re pumped to welcome counselors tomorrow. And, of course, we’re ecstatic for camper arrival on June 26th!
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.
Camp Laurel is the ultimate place to let loose, be comfortable and be yourself. All summer long, campers are rocking face paint, transforming into super heroes, improving at their favorite sports and activities, and letting their imaginations run wild. Counselors let their inner child emerge, too. Everyone at camp feels safe: safe to use their imaginations and safe to be themselves.
Camp Laurel encourages campers to be themselves in a variety of ways. Planned down time allows campers the opportunity to explore and socialize with friends in a way that is supervised, but not overly structured. Campers have a catch, shoot hoops, play ping pong, and explore their interests. During structured activities, children are supported when they speak their minds, share opinions and talk things through. They learn to listen and respect one another. This allows campers to see different sides of a situation. Every summer, campers grow socially and emotionally in a unique way.
Counselors capitalize on their strengths of being fun, relatable, silly and responsible. They take pride in being role models. They help set the tone all summer by calming themselves down when it’s time to be more serious, and campers learn to differentiate times to be silly and times to be focused.
Children are often expected to be focused and serious throughout the school year; at camp, they foster their childlike wonder more often. At camp, children feel safe to show off their relaxed and sometimes silly side.
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.