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Echo Lake: Like Nothing Else

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.

Keeping the Laurel Spirit Alive

When camp comes to an end, we pack-up your duffels before you head home to get ready for another school year. You leave camp with a lot more than you came with (like ceramics projects and bracelets — and more bracelets!) But more importantly, you leave with a treasure-trove of memories, lifelong friendships and a renewed sense of confidence and independence that camp fosters.

There are different ways campers bring the Laurel Spirit home with them. Humming camp tunes, exploring a new athletic or artistic passion, a newfound ease when making new friends…there are many ways that camp affords us the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves.

Camp Laurel has a special way of revealing a new side of campers even they may not normally have seen or even knew existed. Even campers who return year after year come home with something new each summer. They understand how fortunate they are to spend seven weeks on Echo Lake. They feel a profound connection to Maine. They realize they don’t need to be “plugged in” to feel connected. Campers take something extra home with them: the stories, shared experiences, inside jokes and memories. Luckily, the Laurel Spirit won’t take up any space in your duffel. And that will stay with you for life!

Another Successful Summer

The sun is setting earlier, the nights are a bit cooler and camp is over. After living, playing, learning, laughing and growing together for seven weeks, we now reflect on another incredible season. The bonds that were forged at Camp Laurel are remarkably strong. Camp is a unique place where children and counselors wake up, eat, play and spend the days together with friends all summer long.

The magical thing about summer camp is that it goes far beyond seven weeks. Memories last a lifetime, and everything is more than it seems. Playing basketball isn’t just about gaining and improving skills, but also about learning to be a good sport and teammate. Finishing a ceramics project is about following directions and unlocking creativity. Campers conquer their fears and step out of their comfort zones at the Aerial Park. In the cabin they build confidence by celebrating each other’s achievements, supporting one another and living together.

The lessons learned at camp translate in the real world. Whether in the classroom, at extracurricular activities or in the community, camp helps us become better students, teammates and friends. Parents: We know you’ll have the chance to talk with your camper about what they learned this summer. As always, we want to thank our campers, camp parents and counselors for another amazing summer!

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!

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.

 

The Place To Be Yourself

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.

The Best Thing About Camp Laurel

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.

Camp Brothers and Sisters

…More than tradition…

How do people develop into good role models? Are they easy to pick out? What character traits make them up? Like everything in life, being a good role model takes practice. It’s rarely a responsibility that anyone is initially prepared for, but Laurel provides campers an experience that will help tremendously.

Campers in Bec and Bago (7th to 9th graders) have the opportunity to be Camp Big Brothers and Sisters. Their “little” will be their biggest fan! The relationship between camp brothers or sisters is more than just a tradition. It’s one of the first chances at making a difference in someone’s life.  And to be completely honest, it feels really good to have others look up to you!

Building the relationship is the first step in the process. Something as simple as going out of your way to say hi and ask them how they are doing is a great way to start. You could stop by their table at lunch to check in. Or seek them out during all-camp events. It only takes a few of these interactions before they feel connected and ready to be led in the right direction.

Being a role model at camp is so much more than being a good friend. It’s about following Camp Laurel’s philosophy of being “kinder than necessary”, choosing your attitude even when things may not go your way, and of course, having fun!

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