One of the things we talk about in the cabins, at program areas, in the Lodge at meals, at evening activities, and even on trips is: being nice. Sometimes, campers need to be reminded about this, and it’s our job, as caring and responsible adults, to do this in a loving and constructive way.
At the first campfire of the summer, Jem and Debbie talk about being kind and respectful to each other. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s expected here. This is a value we reinforce throughout the summer. Before we leave on our first S-Day trip, Jem reminds everyone they are leaving Camp Laurel and heading into the outside world, and we want our campers to be great citizens so they feel terrific about themselves and they represent Camp Laurel well.
Kindness and respect are key ingredients to a happy cabin life, and therefore a happy summer. It’s a value we speak about regularly, and reinforce when necessary. Fortunately, we have an environment at Camp Laurel that fosters respect and kindness, and we watch random acts of kindness and respect occur all day long.These values are important at camp. They’re important at school. They’re important at home. And, of course, they’re important in life!
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!
Chelsea takes the subway to school every morning. Justin spends his weekends hanging out downtown with his buddies. Evan can walk to movie theaters, restaurants and museums from the apartment where he lives. These city kids spend most of their year surrounded by concrete, honking horns and tall buildings. And that is why they, like so many other kids from big cities, really look forward to coming to camp for a change in their environment.
Camp Laurel is located in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the country. Tucked away amongst tall trees, a gorgeous lake and acres and acres of sprawling green fields, camp is the definition of natural beauty. When you’re here, you can really connect with nature and breathe in fresh Maine air.
The lake is a refreshing place to spend the summer, whether it’s fishing, swimming, stand up paddleboarding, waterskiing or sailing. The view of the lake changes throughout the day and gives off a different feeling depending on the time of day. In the morning, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to wake up to. In the afternoons, it’s an exciting water playground where campers jump, splash and play all day. And then in the evenings, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to reflect and unwind. City kids may not get to experience such natural beauty in their everyday lives, making the beauty of camp even more special.
Waking up to a view of tall forest trees is a nice change for kids who are used to the hustle and bustle of a big city. The natural beauty of camp makes for the perfect backdrop to pictures that campers are sure to treasure forever. Waking up each morning and breathing in the crisp Maine air is good for the heart, mind, and soul!
Being immersed in the beauty of Maine is a welcome and unique experience. Spending the summer unplugged from technology, interacting with others and playing games fosters creativity. Once at home, campers have so many more options than their peers who are accustomed to spending long hours in front of the TV, computers and gaming systems. Campers are more apt to play outside with friends, building true relationships and getting exercise.
Camp exposes campers to things they normally wouldn’t see and experience back home. They learn to find excitement and joy in nature, and it awakens something in them that the city just can’t. Spending time outside has been proven to improve vision, encourage social skills, reduce stress and give kids the vitamin D that they need. Who knew spending all day outside at camp is actually good for kids?!
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?
The next ten days of camp are going to be AWESOME! Now that our older campers have returned from their trips, we’re back as one Laurel Family and getting ready for Lake Swim, Sleeping Beauty, final Camping Trips, final Tournaments and Intercamps and, of course, College Days. Chants of “” are starting to erupt in the Dining Hall and Cove.
While camp is starting to enter its final stretch of the summer, there’s still lots to do and we won’t miss a beat. Full program is running until this weekend when we enter the cherished College Days. At that time, the camp will be evenly broken into two teams for five days of spirited competition and fun. No one knows when it will come…or how it will come…but the anticipation is building!
College Days is a great opportunity to watch our Super Seniors shine for the culmination of their Laurel camp careers. All Super Seniors take a leadership role in College Days and it’s most certainly the most coveted time of their summers with us.
More on College Days later in the week. But for now – it’s back to camp and all the things we love: our Friends, our Counselors, the Activities and so much more.
Ah camp, with all its beautiful sounds — shining stars on a clear night, the whistle of the wind in the trees, the splashing of campers jumping in the lake — one thing you won’t hear: the gentle “ping” of Instagram notifications. A summer at camp means digital detox!
Depending on how technology-dependent a camper or counselor is, that’s either great news or serious cause for concern. Don’t worry — even if you miss checking Instagram every five seconds, you’re bound to benefit from a little analog “me-time”. After all, countless studies have shown that constant social media and internet exposure can have negative effects on things like concentration, memory and even basic happiness.
So here are a few tips for keeping sane without your phone in your pocket.
Keep a Journal
Journaling is your number-one weapon in the fight against digital withdrawal. People have been using journaling as a way of daily reflection long before Facebook’s “what’s on your mind” prompt or Twitter’s “What’s happening?” Think of it as a Facebook update for your future self.
Write Letters or Postcards
We often seem to forget that email isn’t the only way to keep in touch. Receiving a piece of snail mail in the mailbox brings a smile to anyone’s day. Just doodle a picture and throw in a “miss you!” on a postcard and drop it in the camp mail. Done!
Stay in the Moment
Staying in the moment is easier said than done. Being able to “quickly check Instagram” can turn your phone into a social crutch. Camp offers you a chance to let that bad habit go — and when you can’t look at your phone during down time, you’ll find yourself making real connections with the people around you. Next time you want to share “what’s on your mind,” try sharing your thoughts with a person instead of your Facebook.
Social media can be great and there’s a time and place for it; but you’ll be surprised at how great you feel when you take a little digital detox.