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The Energy of Camp Laurel

There is a buzz in the air every morning at camp; a feeling that puts an extra pep in our step even before our feet hit the floor. Counselors wake up with a sense of excitement and readiness for the day. The energy of camp is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Being surrounded by positive people is a natural stimulant that gives campers and staff a boost of energy every day.

It’s easy to be in a good mood when nature is everywhere. There’s the beauty of Echo Lake, the forest and sprawling fields. It’s the soft breeze between the trees in the morning and the glow of the campfire at night. The beauty of camp is refreshing, and spending a few minutes appreciating the vast beauty is usually enough to get anyone going.

There’s also a beauty and energy in the people of camp. The relationships, activities and memories create a unique sense of contagious positivity. Campers can’t help but run freely across camp because there’s so much excitement surrounding them! Of course, not every moment is rainbows and butterflies, but campers feel upbeat, encouraged and excited for the majority of their time at camp.

Campers and counselors feed off the genuine energy and positive vibes of each other. There is something about camp that keeps the energy alive from sunrise to sunset. Spend a summer at Laurel so you can feel it for yourself!

Why Kids Need Camp Now More Than Ever

Take a moment and look around. Whether it’s at a restaurant, the movies, a park, or in your own home, there is one constant – a mobile device. Phones, iPads, and other forms of technology have taken over daily life. It has become impossible to have a simple meal with family or friends without the distraction of technology.

Before the influx of technology, children asked for hands-on presents that fostered creativity and adventure for holidays and birthdays. Remember the excitement when you received your first bicycle? Today, children receive iPhone Xs for their birthdays. While technology has a lot to offer individuals, it can have a negative impact on youth development. Creative impulses and a sense of adventure are diminished as children plug in their headphones and sit inside for hours at a time exploring their latest technology.

This is why kids need camp more than ever. Camp offers children a seven-week experience they will never forget. In one summer, concrete memories are made and lifelong skills acquired. Time spent outside in the fresh air with friends teaches children to appreciate the outdoors and the joy of unplugging.

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace. Soon, our world will be filled with artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. The need to be independent will be diminished but the inherit independence that camp teaches will always be present.

Building Character

The seven weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It’s an opportunity to build character and boost confidence. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. In today’s world, the pressure to succeed at all costs seems to have become the focus, more so than the ideals that promote kindness, empathy, moral compass and self-assuredness.

At camp, children are guided to solve conflict through understanding and compromise. They learn that differences of opinion can be discussed without resentment or anger. Campers learn to talk about their feelings and truly understand the feelings of others. We tell our campers that not everyone will be your best friend, yet we treat everyone with kindness and respect. These are values that will serve them well throughout their school years, in the workplace and in their communities.

At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended), fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they all are, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. We are intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.

Campers return home with more friends, improved skill-sets and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves camp with stronger character, and that we can instill basic morals and ideals that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families each summer.

The Camp Community

Going to a sleepaway camp has a profound impact on campers and counselors alike. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you’ll never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, members of the camp community will tell you that camp has changed their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationships. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which fosters genuine connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your cabinmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed. The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from across the United States and the globe. The bonds made at camp carry over and solidify throughout the year as counselors travel to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it’s the cheers, the campfires, or the athletic competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished. Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills. On the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.

Keeping Active After Camp

Unless you live on 100+ acres of grassy fields, on a lake complete with tennis courts, an equestrian center and hundreds of your closest friends, then it may be hard to stay as busy and active at home as you do when you’re at camp. When you spend your summer at camp, you’re surrounded by nature; you have access to almost every sport and activity you could imagine, and; it’s easy to spend your days — literally — running from one adventure to the next.

When it’s time to come home from camp, some campers find it easy to fall back into more laid-back routines, consisting of computer time, TV time and video games. However, it’s easy to take some of the things you learned at camp and apply them to your normal routine at home. You may not live on a lake, but you can still get outside and enjoy the sunshine. You may not have access to a soccer field, but you can still get outside with friends and kick the ball around. You can still go for a run, start a pick up game of baseball with other kids in the neighborhood, or put together a dance routine to impress your family after dinner. There are many ways to stay active while you’re at home, and you don’t need 100+ acres or counselors to help you do it.

Staying active during the fall and winter months is very important to your overall health. When you feel good physically, other aspects of your life seem to follow. Your confidence improves, which helps you build healthy and strong relationships. Exercise has been scientifically proven to release hormones that help you focus in school, help you sleep well, and help promote strong bones and muscles. It’s great for your heart, and the endorphins released when you exercise gives you an overall sense of happiness.

Many campers are introduced to a sport while at camp, and then choose to continue pursuing that sport throughout the school year. If you loved soccer at camp, why not try out for the school team? If you really loved gymnastics at camp, why not look into joining the competitive after-school team? By staying active during the school year, you give yourself months of practice before returning to the sport at camp over the summer. You will be amazed at the progress you can make from one summer to the next.

Staying active at home can help improve all areas of your life. Being active makes you happier and healthier, and is something all campers can do to boost their confidence in the months when they aren’t at camp.

What I Learned from a Summer at Camp

My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.

Camp Laurel on Echo Lake

Going to camp in Maine means spending your summer on an incredible lake. Maine lakes are among the cleanest, biggest and most beautiful in the country.

At Camp Laurel, we are fortunate to be situated on Echo lake, which is 9 miles around and a mile wide.

Echo Lake is home to Camp Laurel and two other camps —  Vega and Winnebago. We are part of the Echo Lake Association and take an active role in keeping the quality of the lake extraordinarily high. We are also part of the 30-mile Watershed Association, which monitors the activity of the 7 interconnected lakes around Readfield, Maine.

Every water sport is available to our campers:. Swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, sailing, waterskiing – and campers take advantage of the lake every day. Many – multiple times per day.

Many camps around the country have pools – but very few private camps in Maine have them. They’re not necessary because of the quality of our lakes. It’s been said that because Echo Lake is so clear – you can play cards at the bottom.

While we love all the activities and programs at camp – we particularly love the beauty and recreational opportunities that Echo Lake affords all of us.

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.

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