Before my first summer at Camp Laurel I was reminded of all the things my parents used to tell me: brush your teeth, try new things, make friends…As my bus ventured toward Readfield I remembered my tour of the camp the year before. I thought about the activity selection form I completed, all the things we packed and sent, what the cabins were like. I couldn’t help but be excited (and a little bit nervous.) What I wasn’t ready for was how much Laurel was going to impact the rest of life, and how quickly it would feel like my summer home.
Stepping off the bus I noticed the counselors cheering and smiling. It seemed like hundreds of them were there to welcome me! The energy that met the campers on that first day left a lifelong impression on me. Over the summers I spent at Laurel, I realized the most important thing is the people. My summer connections gave me confidence, taught me about myself and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. (Not to mention that my counselors were always there to remind me to brush my teeth and encouraging me to try new things.)
Obviously, the best part of every summer is that camp is FUN! Each day is packed with swimming, songs, tennis, waterskiing, laughing, basketball, art and everything else Laurel has to offer with the amazing backdrop of Echo Lake. I’ll always cherish the memories created, the skills I learned and the friendships gained. And I’ll always love my summer home!
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!!
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!
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.
As the school year progresses, college students are faced with the question of where to work and what to do during the summer. While acquiring an internship can give you experience in your respective field of work, the benefits of working as a camp counselor are too large to ignore. For eight weeks, you’re working in a fast-paced environment with people from all different backgrounds. These eight weeks present rewards, challenges and an ability to maximize skills you may have never realized you had.
Living in a cabin day-in and day-out with campers and co-counselors is a unique experience. As a camp counselor, you’re presented with the task of nurturing each individual camper in order to establish strong relationships and ensure a safe and fun environment for all. The ability to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each individual is a valuable skill in any profession.
The environment at camp allows counselors to discover the best version of themselves. This environment of acceptance fosters the development of each counselor’s confidence and skill set. With higher confidence comes clearer decision making, better communication and stronger performance in many areas of life.
At camp, you’re both a coach and a mentor to the campers in your cabin, but also to the rest of the children at camp. Camp transforms counselors into leaders with the drive to be successful. The confidence established at camp can be carried over to all aspects of life; from going on a job interview to giving a presentation to your boss — having confidence allows for the highest success rate.
Team Building and Problem Solving
Working with co-counselors teaches valuable lessons both in teamwork and problem-solving. Although your co-counselors are close to your age, each individual possesses their own unique skill set. This diversity presents the opportunity for understanding and appreciating different cultures, working with varied experience levels and finding a common ground to resolve conflicts and effectively problem-solve.
Becoming a Leader
The combination of the skills learned as a camp counselor include communication, problem-solving, flexibility, individuality and confidence, all of which are key factors in being successful in any workplace. When faced with the decision to apply for an internship or a counselor at a sleepaway camp, take into consideration that in just eight weeks, skills will be developed that are beneficial for life.
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!
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?
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…