It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Echo Lake over the weekend. Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to have celebrated Independence Day together in Maine. We’re grateful for the fun programs our Department Heads plan like Red, White and Boogie at Dance, Ring the Liberty Bell at Climbing, US Open Tournament at Tennis and countless others. Of course, the special July 4th Cookout and the best fireworks show in Maine cap off an amazing day.
We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.
We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s Independence Day on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Halloween is a blast every fall, and we’re sure our campers loved celebrating last week. Who doesn’t like expressing themselves with a wacky costume? At Camp Laurel we’re fortunate to have so many opportunities to do just that. Camp is always encouraging creativity through crazy hair, stage make up or ridiculous outfits.
Our favorites include the green and white everywhere for Laurel Spirit Day, Super Seniors rocking khakis and polos to mini-golf at Rummels, and the patriotic madness on the 4th of July. But those are just the beginning! Counselors get in the mix with different ideas for theme nights for our youngest campers. College Days, Olympics and Quest are some of the big events, but it’s never out of place to see tutus, bandanas or face paint anywhere around camp.
The best part of dressing up isn’t always being out and about, but the enthusiasm for planning costumes back in the cabin with your closest friends. Camp is a reminder that you’re never too old and never too cool to dress up and be excited for what’s ahead, and that’s an important lesson for everyone!
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!
According to the American Camp Association, there are about 8,400 overnight camps in the United States. With that many camps, there are obviously numerous differences between one camp and the next. Some camps have lakes while others have a pool; there are full season, 7-week camps and there are multi-session camps. The list of differences could go on forever, but while all camps are different, there are certain aspects that stay the same. These aspects are “perennially camp” and are the reason that summer camp is so important to those who attend. Without these staples, camp just wouldn’t be the same!
Campfires and S’mores
When people think about camp, one of the first things that come to mind is a campfire…and no campfire is complete without s’mores! But campfires and s’mores represent way more than just a mellow night with a delicious treat — they represent bringing people together. At any campfire, campers are surrounded by friends and counselors. There is no need for television, phones or technology of any kind. Instead campers enjoy each other’s company. There is a quaint and quiet simplicity that in today’s world is very hard to find.
Songs and Spirit
If campfires and s’mores are the first thing that comes to mind when people think about camp, songs and spirit are a close second. And similarly to campfires and s’mores, songs and spirit are about bringing people together. The unity that is formed from learning a camp song or from having pride in your camp is unmatched. This unity is not the only benefit of the songs and spirit of camp; they also instill a sense of tradition in campers. Many of the songs sung at camp have been around for decades. They are a great way to connect current campers to alumni and form a bond between generations who might not have had anything in common otherwise.
Campfires and s’mores may bring people together, and songs and spirit may keep traditions alive, but ultimately camp would not be camp without positive energy. No matter what camp you attend, the amount of support, love and camaraderie is unlike anywhere else in the world. While all camps differ for various reasons, perennially camp traditions are alive everywhere.