Camp Laurel Blog

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And So It Begins…

How could it be that so quickly – almost instantly, in fact – old friends reunited and newcomers felt like part of the family? It happened because we have engaging, warm and amazing staff members who greeted your children at the plane or motorcoach departure areas and made sure they were well taken care of on the trip to camp. And it happened because when they arrived at camp, they were met with open arms and embraced like family members who hadn’t seen each other in a year!

 

After arrival and the requisite head checks, we had a great Opening Ceremony and longevity recognition awards. The very next day we took some informal cabin pictures and then fell into regular program and activity for our first A Day of the summer. All areas of camp were humming and the program looked great with campers honing new skills and experimenting in new arenas perhaps not yet tried. What an amazing first few days!

Let’s Go To Camp

One of the best days of Staff Orientation is called “Let’s Go To Camp.” On this day, Acadian and Apache Specialists play the role of campers and attend programs throughout the day while Program Staff run their various activity areas.

 

It’s great to see the Specialists having a ball on the Climbing Towers, on the Lake, Courts, Fields and Arts Activity areas…and even better to watch our Program Staff perform and master their sills!

 

 

After Let’s Go to Camp and a solid week of Orientation, our counselors enjoyed a well-deserved day off, and we spend tomorrow in final preparations for Wednesday’s arrival. Counselor chaperones leave for Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, South Florida, New York City, Westchester and Chicago bright and early tomorrow morning. We know you’re preparing for a final day and family dinner tomorrow, so enjoy these moments. Wednesday can’t come soon enough.

 

And parents: We’re ready for your children! We’ve got you covered and we’re ready to take and care for them as you fully expect and deserve.

Pre-Orientation Trainings

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!

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.

The Perfect Place to Unplug

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.

Teamwork and Independence Go Together at Camp

I fondly remember my summers at camp: living in a cabin with 10 other boys and my counselors, playing sports for sunset to sundown, Intercamp games, College Days, the list goes on. And while I remember those amazing summers like they were yesterday, they were almost 40 years ago! While I enjoyed camp in my time, kids today benefit from the experience more than ever.

Today’s world has become far more competitive when it comes to youth sports. In many cases, the chance to play many sports throughout the year is replaced by the need to focus on one sport. Children no longer play little league baseball until it’s soccer season until it’s basketball season. It seems that, at eight years old, children pick a sport to concentrate on and hope you are good enough to make the neighborhood traveling team. That’s a lot of pressure at a young age.

At Camp Laurel, children play every sport they want. Newcomers to a sport can learn the rules and fundamentals while experienced campers focus on improving skills. Everyone is met at their respective levels by talented coaches who share their passion of the game. Campers can be part of the team, get ample playing time and learn to love the game.

Children today are overly reliant on technology. Time playing outside with friends has been replaced with screen-time. Often times TV, computers and cell phones replace meaningful play time with others. Camp affords children the opportunity to unplug for the summer, enjoying interaction with their peers and counselors.

Campers also gain a new sense of independence and responsibility at camp. They help keep their cabin and area clean during the summer. They learn to make their bed, put away their clothes and work with their friends to keep the whole cabin clean. They learn to communicate with each to problem-solve. Many parents notice their children come home from camp more confident and independent.

All in all, camp allows children to take a deep breath, relax, have fun, grow as a person, foster friendships and create a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime!

Camp Benefits Everyone

Camp is one of the great positive experiences that can truly alter the course of ones’ life.  Campers and counselors are exposed to new ideas, activities and situations that provide eye-opening opportunities. Campers can try a new sport that might become a passion resulting in making a high school sports team. Counselors might realize that working with children is their calling in life.

Campers from different regions are exposed to new programs and activities that may not be widely available in their area… wakeboarding, equestrian, stand-up paddling to name a few. They may discover a passion for cooking in ChefCamp or the wide variety of artistic endeavors beyond painting.

Counselors experience new things as they learn to care for others. They’re afforded the opportunity to instruct and coach in their area of expertise. They meet peers and mentors from all over the world – creating a network of people with shared interests and goals.

Campers and counselors learn about kindness, patience and community as they share time, space and triumphs with their cabinmates and friends. Camp provides a place for all to unplug and mentally recharge. A place where we celebrate achievements and embrace learning opportunities. Everyone plays sports; everyone gets up on waterskis; everyone sings around the campfire. Everyone is challenged at the appropriate level and improves, whether in the arts, athletics, acting or adventure. Everyone has a place at camp.

Thank You

An amazing closing ceremony led by our Super Seniors concluded the final chapter of Laurel 2018. Campers from each campus gave a speech about the moments they’ll cherish forever and there wasn’t a dry eye around the fire by the time Taps played over the east end of Echo Lake.

As everyone is gearing up to head back to school, we wanted to offer our campers, counselors and all our camp families a heartfelt thank you for sharing this past summer with us.

To our incredible counselors:

Thank you for everything you did for your campers this summer. We’re so proud of your hard work and dedication. It’s amazing to think of all the hours you spent teaching, leading, laughing and smiling this summer.

To our amazing families:

Thank you for giving your children the opportunity to experience Camp Laurel. It’s a tremendous honor and responsibility for us to care for your children, and we always aim to give them the best experience possible.

And to our wonderful campers:

We hope you enjoyed summer of 2018 as much as we did! We loved watching you learn new skills, grow and build lasting friendships. More than anything, we loved creating lifelong memories with you.

We appreciate all that each of you did to help write the story of Laurel 2018 — it was an unforgettable season on the shores of Echo Lake. We know you’ll be keeping the Laurel Spirit alive in the winter.

We miss you already!

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