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.
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!
We had an incredible summer, amazing College Days, and we look forward with great anticipation to tonight’s Lakeside Final Ceremony.
This Final Ceremony has been the closing hallmark of Camp Laurel since 1947.
In addition to the traditional march, group songs and group fires, each group will feature a fire starter and speaker representing their campuses.
As your campers return home, we hope you will allow them the time and space to recount and process their experiences. They may appear hoarse from cheering, exhausted from College Days, and slow to readapt to the norms of family life. Given the opportunity over the coming days and weeks, however, even normally tight-lipped kids may let you in on the summers many triumphs and adventures.
Have a wonderful, safe and happy year. We miss your kids already!
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!!
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.
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!
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!
Our Junior and Senior Bec and Bago campers returned from their Boston and Montreal extended trips and had amazing time. As they came back into camp, Jem hopped on each motorcoach to welcome everyone home and remind the campers they are now back at camp and out of the “real world.” This quick reminder is a good time to re-set the campers as they head back into camp for the next two weeks of activities, program and fun. Super Seniors are, of course, still out on their trip and having a blast. This is their time to unplug together as a group before they come back into camp Sunday and enter their final 12 days as Laurel campers.
Back in Readfield, our program continues to hum along as we head into Week #6 with the Lion King Musical, Sports Night Championships, Dance Showcase, Camper Talent Night, and final rounds of intercamps and tournaments. As with most camps, early in Week #7, we slide into culminating special events and programs. While the calendar turns soon to August, and it’s starting to feel like College Days may be upon us…there’s still so much more to do! And as we tell everyone – campers and staff – take advantage of your time now!
As we wind down week #3 and head into Week #4, the program continues to hum at a rapid pace. To be sure we stay on course, we intentionally work hard to ensure campers and counselors are well-rested and energetic. While waterskiing, playing basketball, soccer and tennis, doing gymnastics and scaling the Aerial Park are part of what camp is all about, when we’re at it five or six hours a day, four or five days in a row, its necessary to take a breath and re-charge.
Our weekly schedule automatically alters between A and B program days, with an S-Day (or Special Days) built in every fourth or fifth day. On S-Days, we sleep in bit, have a more relaxed breakfast, and enjoy in-camp events (Carnival, Traditions Day, Gold Rush, Triathlon to name a few).Every other S-Day, depending on each campers age group, we also leave camp for an out-of-camp S-Day and take in sights along the Maine coast, visit a seacoast town, or hit a waterpark.
Each night at camp there is a planned and well-executed evening program that is more recreational in nature and less instructional. Other than our weekly Sports Nite where all age groups play in a league under-the-lights, (football, soccer or hockey), we try and take it down a notch before bed. Favorite evening activities are campfires, hypnotist show, egg drop, talent nights, and, of course, weekly socials for our older campers. While every day at camp is programmed and scheduled, some are more relaxed. In today’s fast-paced world – even at camp where we are unplugged – this is an important facet of everyone’s good health.
When camp comes to an end, you pack up your duffels and head home to get ready for another busy school year. When you leave, you leave with a lot more than you came with. Your journal’s full of memories, your phone (which stayed at home) is full of new numbers from all of your new friends, and you leave with a new sense of confidence and independence that you only get when you spend a summer at camp.
There are different ways campers bring a little piece of camp spirit home with them. You may find yourself humming one of the whacky camp tunes as you clean your room, which will bring back memories of campfires and canoeing on the lake.
You may find yourself digging through your laundry bag to find your super comfortable camp t-shirt, the one that reminds you of scoring the winning goal or laughing until you cry alongside your best camp friends. You may search your room for your beloved camp hat or sweatshirt, as the perfectly worn-in feeling brings back warm memories of summer adventures.
Your family members may notice that you come back with a new sense of confidence, a new passion for sports or the arts, or a brand new sense of independence. They may notice that you came home with the camp spirit still dancing inside of you. They may notice you are happier, more active, and more willing to try new things. A lot happens at camp that causes changes and shifts within you, and it’s impossible not to take those experiences and lessons back home. Shy campers may find it easier to make new friends, outgoing campers may learn to find comfort in quiet time and connecting with nature. Camp has this special way of exposing campers to a side of themselves that they may not normally see. This is the spirit of camp that comes home with each and every camper.
And next summer, when you come back, you’ll be amazed at all of the new things you take home. Year after year, even after you think you’ve experienced everything camp has to offer, you still come home with something new each summer. You may learn that you don’t need to be constantly connected to Wifi to feel connected. You may learn that there is something special about spending time on a great lake in Maine. Every summer, campers take a little something extra home with them that stays with them for the rest of their life.
Lucky for you, a lot of the camp spirit that you take home with you, and carry with you for the rest of your life, won’t take up any extra space in that camp duffel.