You may have begun to notice that, ever so slowly, the nights are beginning to turn a bit cooler and the sun is rising a bit later. This could only mean that Fall is upon us, and school is right around the corner. Of course, school will look different for everyone this year.
Whether it’s online, in-person or a hybrid, students and teachers will be together again. Conversations will be had about what we did during our extended break and how different 2020 has been than any year in memory. We’ve heard over and over how much our campers and counselors missed being at Camp Laurel: missing the routines, missing learning new skills, missing the outdoors, and, mostly, missing camp friends and the chance to be mentored by our amazing staff. We all are yearning for the community and unconditional acceptance we feel at camp.
As our campers head back to school, please know that we missed sharing everything with you, but we’re one step closer to being together on the shores of Echo Lake in 2021!
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.
Going to a sleepaway camp has a profound impact on campers and counselors alike. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you’ll never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, members of the camp community will tell you that camp has changed their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.
Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationships. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which fosters genuine connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your cabinmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed. The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from across the United States and the globe. The bonds made at camp carry over and solidify throughout the year as counselors travel to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.
The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it’s the cheers, the campfires, or the athletic competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished. Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at camp.
The Lessons Learned
The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills. On the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.
My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.
I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.
But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.
I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.
I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.
I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.
Salmon Rushdie once said “Friendships are the family we make – not the ones we inherit.” Mr. Rushdie must have been a camper because no quote better epitomizes the relationship between camp friends. As anyone who went to camp knows, camp friends become your family before you’ve even realized. And similar to your family, your relationships are like a roller coaster ride. You can hang out and laugh in the cabin one minute and argue over some minuscule issue another; yet through it all you know camp friends are there for you, no matter what
Camp friends are unlike any other friends and help shape who you become as a person. Their significance is immense and immeasurable; here are a few reasons why they are so impactful:
Camp Friends Tell It to You Straight
Whether in moments of frustration or moments of merriment, your camp friends are honest. They will tell you the truth without second thought. This is not because they don’t care, it’s actually the opposite. Your camp friends will point out your weaknesses, but always in a constructive way. They aren’t attempting to hurt your feelings, instead they are trying to help you grow. With their assistance you can begin to turn these weaknesses into strengths and become your best possible self.
Camp Friends Are with You Through It All
Your camp friends have seen you at your best and at your worst. They’ve seen you score the winning goal in an intercamp and they’ve seen you with a cold in the Health Center; and through it all they’ve held your hand, cheered you on, and pushed you in the right direction. It’s easy to be there for someone when things are great, but when things are tough is when camp friends thrive. They know how to make you forget the bad and move forward with the good. As stated earlier, camp friends will take you at your worst and help you turn things around so you can become your best possible self. With them in your corner, nothing can keep you down.
Camp Friends Last Forever
Possibly the best thing about camp friends is that they don’t just make an impact and leave. They are with you through your life, even after you time at camp has ended and continue to help you better yourself. Whether you talk once a day, once a month or even once a year, their loyalty is unmatched. Many even evolve to become your college buddies, travel companions, post graduate roommates and everything in between. They continue to help you thrive in different stages of your life, but no matter what they become, they will always be your camp friends first.
We enter the last three days of camp with emotions running high. We’ve just come off a spectacular five days of College Days. It was an incredible culminating special event of the 2016 season. Our Super Seniors did a superb job leading the camp. The Games, Sports, Contests, Songs, Floats, Plaques were as good as ever. Well done Class of 2016!!
Tonight we “dial it down” a bit and start to decompress from the week gone by. Tomorrow we’ll have a Rec Day with fun activities, tennis ladder games, water afternoon and rehearsal for Reprise…a call-back of the finest 2016 acts and performances. We’ll also see a highlights film of the summer produced by our talented Digital Media Department. It will be a great day.
Thursday we begin to pack, reminisce, spend time with friends and counselors, and get ready for the Final Ceremony…a 67 year old Laurel tradition on the shores of Echo Lake.
We can’t believe the seven weeks are coming to an end. We will cherish every minute until we say our final farewell to the summer of 2016…
1. You Want to Play Outside No Matter the Weather The rain-or-shine attitude is something that sets campers apart. Whether you are going rock climbing or waterskiing, you sure aren’t going to miss out on the time of your life because of a little liquid sunshine!!
2. You Always Want to Work as a Team Summer camp is a crash-course in teamwork and quickly turns even those with “quieter” personalities into leaders and team players. From meals to playtime to campfires, campers do everything together and quickly discover that the more you collaborate, the more fun you can have.
3. You’re Always Singing and Clowning Around You can take the camper out of camp, but you can never take the camp songs out of the camper. Repeat-after-me melodies are a tradition as old as camp itself that turn goofy rhymes into songs that get stuck in your head forever…for counselors and campers alike.
4. You Don’t Mind Getting a Little Dirty Summer camp is all about having fun in the great outdoors, and that means running around in the woods, jumping in the lake and getting grass stains on your jeans. Especially for campers coming from the big city, getting comfortable with mud, bugs and insects means getting out of your comfort zone… and having a blast while doing so.
5. You Get Along with People Who are Different than You Diversity is strength, and camp is one of the most diverse places around. You never know who’s going to be in your age group, and no matter where everyone comes from, you all have to work together both in and out of activities.
6. You Love to Send “Snail-Mail” Just like the owl post over breakfast in Harry Potter, mail time at camp is exciting for everyone! Parents love getting updates from camp, and campers love getting a little piece of home. In a world where paper is being used less and less, there’s nothing like getting a post card in the winter from your best camp friend.
7. You Know How to Start a Fire (and Roast a Perfect Marshmallow!) Not everyone knows how to start a fire in the digital era, but as a camper you know a thing or two about getting that tinder to snap, crackle and pop. Chances are you even have a great campfire story and know a thing or two about crafting the perfect s’more!
8. You Want to Be a Counselor When You “Grow Up” The number one sign of a lifelong camper is when you’ve been going to camp for so many seasons that you become too old to be a camper — so you become a counselor! Being a camp counselor is one of the best jobs in the world and a chance to share all your years of camp wisdom with the next generation. You’re more than just a camper…you’re a role model!
You know that “first day of school” feeling? I’m sure you do. Some people love it while others find it quite scary. The chance to explore a new place, try new things, and make new friends can be simultaneously exhilarating and t
How about that “first day of camp” feeling? I’m going to be honest with you, I was a shy kid, and the first day of camp I was worried. So many new faces! So many new activities! You mean we’re staying here for seven weeks?!
Making Friends at Camp is Easy
Well, it turned out my fears were completely unfounded; I quickly learned that it’s practically impossible not to make new friends at camp. From the team games to the intimate campfire circles, sticking to yourself isn’t really an option. There are no TV shows or computer games to distract or isolate you!
But camp doesn’t just teach you how to make friends; it teaches you how to keep them.
Learning to Be a Good Friend
Summer camp is a crash course in socializing. Spending weeks together with the same group teaches campers how to interact with each other in ways that you can’t really learn at school. You aren’t just playing games at camp; you’re learning how to live communally. That means sharing, communicating, and understanding different perspectives. In a sense, camp helps teach kids to be a good friend to their peers.
Learning to be a good friend means learning to give as much as you take. Everyone has rough days, and camp is no exception. Cheering up a friend who doesn’t feel like playing games or joining in the campfire can be tough, but every camper does it. Why? Because they know that their camp friends would gladly lend them the same support.
Friends that Last Forever
The camp experience is as intense as it is fleeting. Similar experiences don’t come around often, so it’s no surprise that campers often become life-long friends. When you find yourself missing summer, your camp friends are always there to remind you that you aren’t alone. Only someone who was there with you can truly understand what the nostalgia is all about — it’s an experience that links you forever.
The one sad part about camp friendships is that when camp is over, you have to say goodbye. While goodbyes may be tough, next summer is always right around the corner!