Camp is right around the corner. Eighteen days to be exact. Our first set of staff arrived and are busy getting everything ready for arrival day!! Our pre-camp crew is made up of about 30 counselors from all over the country. They spend the morning and afternoon mowing, painting, weed-whacking, setting up docks, moving ping pong tables and generally turning camp into our summer home.
But pre-camp is so much more than that. For the 2018 staff experiencing pre-camp for the first time, it’s about getting acclimated to Laurel, exploring Maine during time off and forming some of the best friendships they’ll ever know. The confidence the pre-camp staff gain from being here early is noticeable. They’ve already made Laurel their summer home. When the balance of the staff arrive by June 15th, they’ll see this crop of pre-camp staff and assume they’ve each been at Laurel for many summers. They instantly become a pre-formed welcoming committee.
The anticipation for camper arrival continues to build with each passing day, and this pre-camp season has already proved that Summer 2018 will be one for the record books. We can’t wait to greet all of you very soon!
The last thing children are thinking about as they are running, dancing, jumping, singing and playing at camp is what they want to be when they grow up. But parents of Camp Laurel know the things campers experience and learn can directly impact the adults that they become. Spending a summer at camp fosters valuable life skills in campers that prepare them to enter the professional world.
One of the biggest benefits of camp is that campers learn how to work together as a team. Counselors lead by example and demonstrate practical communication skills, compromise, and listening skills. Campers learn to trust and encourage each other. Campers who feel confident working with others at camp build a solid foundation for teamwork in the workplace.
Time management is another important skill campers learn without even realizing it. With a variety of activities available for them to try, campers are responsible for planning their day so they get the most out of each activity. Campers – with a counselor’s help – learn to factor in things like travel time between activities or how much prep time is required between events. Learning the importance of being on time or early will help campers be successful in the real world. They’re also given opportunities to extend grace and courtesy to those who are running behind, and taught to exercise patience when things don’t always go according to plan. Campers learn to be flexible and understanding, while also learning how to prioritize important events during their daily routine.
For many campers, camp is the first time they share a private space with a group of people they don’t know. They quickly learn to organize their personal belongings in a way that makes them easily accessible and out of the way of others. Campers keep their personal space neat and tidy, and are respectful of the people who share their space. Learning how to be organized at camp can directly transfer over to being organized at home and in future professional environments.
Spending a summer at camp is one of the best things you can do for the future of your child. It’s a fun way to build character and prepare children for the real world. Campers learn valuable life lessons on a daily basis at camp, all while having the best summer of their lives. Camp counselors focus on developing the whole camper, and embrace the opportunity to prepare each camper for success. When they eventually enter the workforce, campers will be prepared with the confidence and skills required to be successful.
Camp is the perfect place to be wacky, goofy and enthusiastic about everything. No one ever wants to “kind of” do something at camp. Camp is an all-in environment. Here’s a list showing there’s no such thing as “too much” at camp:
While it’s always impossible to laugh too much, this especially rings true at camp. Whether it’s over an inside joke with your cabinmates or one of your favorite counselors doing something goofy on stage in front of the whole camp, laughter’s a camp constant.
Cheering and Singing
There’s no place where cheering is more prevalent than camp. Cheers are heard at sporting events, as a show of camp unity, at meals (Go Bananas!), even when Dirt Cups are rolled out. At camp, even the smallest moments are immortalized in song and cheer!
The Laurel spirit goes beyond giving it our best effort on the field. Camp spirit is about community; from the friends in your cabin, to the counselors and Campus Leaders, all the way to Jem and Debbie and the rest of the administration. Enthusiasm and spirit can be seen on the basketball court, but it’s equally tangible at a rocket launch, theatre show, birthday party, and more.
At Camp Laurel, there is no such thing as too much “camp.” That’s why most campers and counselors can’t help themselves from telling camp stories during the off-season. Campers and counselors agree life would be so much better if “10 for 2” was actually “2 for 10.”
Kids today have so much going on. The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. Maneuvering between school and team practices and recitals – their schedules keep them constantly on the go! Each setting has different expectations and before they know it, the days have turned to months. Camp is different. We want campers to enjoy every moment.
Camp strives to meet kids right where they are. It’s a safe place for kids to act like kids. Camp Laurel is serious about fun, and is a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. They’re playing sports, laughing, chasing lightning bugs, playing games in the cabins, singing songs around a fire and putting on shows. Campers are being exactly who they are meant to be – kids.
Counselors join in on the fun as well: Mature enough to be caring and responsible, but not too old to have lost their childlike wonder. Counselors utilize their summers to embrace their inner child. They engage with campers every day.
The summer is a time where kids can relax and enjoy this fleeting time in their lives, so vital for their growing minds. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, trying new things and being with their friends. And that is exactly what Camp Laurel aims to offer every camper each and every summer.
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!
Every summer, millions of students close their books, say goodbye to homework and depart for summer camp. For a month or two, they stay busy doing activities, exploring nature and making new friends. All that anybody hears from them is the occasional cheery postcard dropped in the mail between activities.
Weeks later, they return home smiling, suntanned and filled with enthusiasm, leaving everyone that stayed home wondering: what happened out there that was such a blast? Their peers who don’t attend summer camp are sure to look up from their phones when everybody gets back to school and ask two questions summer campers know well: “Where have you been? And, why do you look so happy?”
Challenge by Choice Helps You Believe in Yourself
Contrary to popular belief, the real attraction of camp isn’t that it’s easy, or “all fun and games.” The real attraction of summer camp is that it teaches you the rewards that come from new experiences and meeting new challenges. When you realize that challenging things can also be fun, difficulties like homework and making friends at school that used to seem scary and difficult become easy and engaging. You realize that just like any game, the secret is to enjoy playing win or lose. This is an important life lesson and a main reason campers tend to seem happy and energetic.
Learning that Exercise Can Be Fun
Another reason for all the post-camp smiling might seem obvious to some: physical activity. Endless scientific studies have shown the negative effects that getting too little physical exercise can have on people, particularly young people who are still growing. So, it’s a good thing that summer camp is basically a crash course in exercise, introducing campers to tons of high-energy sports and activities.
Campers don’t just do activities at camp — they take skills home and pursue their passions independently, whether it’s playing for their school sports teams, joining a climbing gym or working on their tennis game.
In short: at camp, the endorphins are flowing!
Digital Detox Works Wonders
Technology isn’t all bad, but most parents agree that spending too much time playing SnapChat stories and scanning Instagram can have a negative social effect on children and teens. After all, can you imagine how different your childhood would be if you hadn’t spent most of it outside, making your own fun with your siblings and friends?
In our digital age kids feel a lot of pressure to stay “active” with a wide range of social media activities, and that can become incredibly stressful, not to mention invite bullying. Camp is a chance for campers to cut their ties to technology and concentrate on the things that make childhood fun. Namely, making new friends, discovering new things, and getting back in touch with nature.
What it All Means
Summer camp has a lot of fun activities, yet when people reminisce about summer camp they aren’t usually talking specifically about sailing, or basketball, or ceramics, or campfires. No, they always talk about “the summer camp experience” — that unmistakable mix of nature, friendship and activities that somehow turns fun and games into a chance for growth and self-discovery.
When you look through photos from time spent at camp, it’s always bittersweet; these are times that go by quickly and are memories that will last forever.
No matter their background, campers will all tell you that camp is a life-changing experience. Campers are introduced to life-long friends, given a chance to practice their real-world social skills, taught the value of unplugging from the digital world and focus on being present in the moment.
With all that summer camp offers, why wouldn’t you look happy when you come home?
Camp may be continually changing, but the traditional campfire has remained a constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a campfire brings back a flood of memories for many campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome and a carefree time. Nothing captures the spirit of the camp experience quite like the “snap-crackle-pop” of a hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without campfires. After all, the traditional campfire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night, it represents tradition, togetherness and so much more.
For as long as anyone can remember, friends and family have gathered around fires to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. It’s a way to connect you to the past, and to enjoy the present. Not only is sitting and enjoying a fire a great tradition, but building the fire is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, flashlights or smartphones. In an ever-changing world, this connection to the past is invaluable.
And of course, no mention of campfires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. Even if everybody sings ou t of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.
Another concept campfires represent is togetherness. Campfires are a time for winding down through songs, skits and stories. Many campers feel tired after a long day of activities, but you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight.
…And of Course – S’mores!
Almost everyone’s favorite part of a campfire: S’mores! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes a bit of work and commitment. Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and Hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe, roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring campfire is something nobody forgets.
Surely, many of you have seen “The Hunger Games” films or read the books. For those who haven’t – imagine a post-apocalyptic world where 16 citizens are pitted against each other in a battle to the end. Everyone who has heard of “The Hunger Games” has surely thought about their own strategy and technique they would use when participating…but how would campers fare? From archery to camping skills, here are 5 reasons campers would definitely win:
1. They Use Teamwork
Campers know better than anybody that teamwork increases the odds of success no matter what you’re doing. Being comfortable working on a team and trusting in others to do their part takes guts; whether you’re fighting for your family in the Hunger Games or coming up with an act for the next campfire.
2. They Know How to Hit a Bullseye
What do medieval knights, Hawkeye and summer campers all have in common? That’s right — unbeatable archery skills! Katniss might get a run for her money if she participated in a camp archery competition — some campers are seriously sharp shooters. Knowing how to use a bow and arrow is a rare skill in this day and age, but it’s no mystery to anyone who has gone to camp.
3. They’re Resourceful
One of the biggest challenges of “The Hunger Games” is making do with what you have, and using creativity to solve problems. Campers use their imaginations all the time; whether in theatre, crafts or in the cabin — creativity is abundant. Needless to say, being resourceful would be no problem for campers.
4. They Know How to Camp Out
As if being on the run and fighting defying odds weren’t enough, the contestants of the Hunger Games also have to survive for days on end in the wilderness — sleeping under the stars, making shelters out of branches, and always planning ahead so they have access to their basic necessities. Luckily there’s no real risk at summer camp, but campers still get to practice the fun side of wilderness survival skills. From learning to start campfires to exploring nature and wildlife, exposure to the skills needed to have a blast in the great outdoors is a huge part of camp life.
5. They’re Loyal to Their Friends
Last but not least, the biggest and best part of camp life: friendship. It’s friendship that saves Katniss at the end of the film (spoiler alert!), and it’s friendship that brings campers back to summer camp year after year. Katniss shows that she’s willing to give up everything for her friends and family. Campers learn that friendship isn’t just about taking — it’s also about giving back, volunteering, and always being ready to help others.
Summer camp isn’t just about campfires, sports and jumping in the lake. From ceramics to theater; jewelry making to painting and drawing, camp has activities available for anyone and everyone!
Art Offers Variety
Camp is a hands-on place, so it makes sense that the hands-on approach applies to all camp activities. Painting, ceramics and other studio arts give campers a chance to slow down, zone in and get their hands dirty in a creative environment. Camp is full of creative outlets and everybody gets a chance to try out different mediums until they find the one that speaks to them.
Theater Brings People Together
Theater is a great way for campers to practice team organization outside of a sports environment. The end product is usually a little on the goofy side (this is camp after all, not Shakespeare), but what’s really valuable about the activity is applying those team-building skills to everyday camp life.
The Arts Foster Creativity
No two campers are the same and thus it makes sense that no two pieces of art are the same. Whether drawing a picture, creating a necklace or molding a bowl, creativity is at work. There is something special about following the same instructions as the person next to you, but ending up with something completely different. This self-expression allows for campers to think “outside the box”.
Self-Expression Builds Confidence
Ultimately, the goal of creative activities at camp is to build confidence through self-expression. The arts have always been a safe place for campers to express what they have on their minds. No matter the discipline, every camper gets a chance to show their own unique creative spark.
Camp isn’t just a fun place — it’s a creative place too! So get creative in the arts. There’s no better time than summer to make something spectacular!
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd!
Baseball…generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game. Much like camp, baseball is something that many take for granted as a part of our childhood. It should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most anticipated activities, but what is it that makes baseball so special?The Thinking Person’s Sport
Everyone has their theories, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, requires a good amount of thought. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the game is a series of split second decisions. Baseball requires more planning for the future and half the game is spent between plays. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead. As it turns out, the anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.
Taking the Time to Learn
The leisurely pace of baseball makes it well-suited for players of all abilities. While the sport requires concentration and focus, it’s also a slower game, allowing for a better learning curve. Beginners can take their time and learn all the game’s nuances, while experts can continue to perfect their craft. Everyone has the ability to enjoy.
Room to Breath
Everyone needs a little room to breathe playing sports or in everyday life. While at camp you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Baseball is very similar. Sometimes the game is action-packed, but sometimes it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. Not only are you going to be able to cheer on your teammate, but you’ll be able to use that time to get ready for your turn.
…and when your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!