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Being a Camp Counselor: Learning Skills That Help in Every Profession

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.

Recognizing Individuality

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.

Building Confidence

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.

The Energy of Camp Laurel

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!

The Beauty of Camp

detail-16Chelsea 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.

detail-172Waking 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?!

Where I Go All Summer and Why I Look so Happy When I Come Back

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?

Final Week 2016

detail 2We 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.

detailThursday 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…

All Camp Events

Carnival-1-2While the daily program at Camp Laurel consists of six periods and is highly structured, we’re also a camp which loves spirit, spontaneity and flexibility. Once every five days or so, we take a break from our active program for S Days (Special Days.) S Days are trips days, special events days or tradition days. And at least once a week, we have an all-camp event when, regardless of campus, we come together for a fun, recreational and exciting event that breaks up the camp week and brings the whole Laurel Family together. Often, siblings, cousins, friends and neighbors across campuses join together for a special activity. Yesterday, it was our Carnival.

Carnival best-Sam-5Carnival has been a camp tradition for 40 Camp Laurel years. Our annual Carnival starts at 4:30 in the afternoon and goes until 8:30 at night. We start with a great lakeside cookout (burgers, corn dogs, chicken, salad, pizza, fresh fruit and watermelon) and then we head up to the Blast Bounce Rides.

In addition to the rides, there are booths and games with everything imaginable: Face Painting, Mime, Photo Boots, Fortune Telling, Human Slot Machine, Smack The Rat, Plinko, Marriage Booth, Mini Golf and more. There are dressed up characters  and “carnies,”  And this year, we had a special treat of bronzed, moving statues.

Of course, there’s the ever-famous Fried Dough truck with all kinds of toppings and plenty of water and Powerade to wash it down.

We love Carnival…and we love the fun and games of our weekly S Days.

Off And Running…

detailWe couldn’t have asked for a more incredible opening to the Summer of 2016. After a flawless arrival of campers from throughout the country, we were off and running. Campers met and reacquainted with friends and cabinmates. Counselors immediately integrated returning and new campers with each other and summer cabin families were formed. After a morning of Group Day, we burst right into activity and program and its been non-stop ever since.

detail 2Beautiful Maine weather made for a fabulous first four days of camp. After campers were skill-tested in Swimming, Tennis and Team Sports, it was all-systems go. Busy and active days under the bright sun turned into fun and exciting evening programs under the clear nighttime sky.

Camp is a beehive of activity and we’re all-in for the amazing summer ahead.

Baseball Fever at Camp

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?P36-37 (6)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!

Tips for Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

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Thinking about what you’ll be doing this summer? If you loved camp as a kid and are too old to be a camper, think about applying to be a counselor! Afterall, a successful camp depends greatly on its staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to connect with campers and fellow counselors…form friendships and make memories!
  1. Get ready to be excited about everything!Campers will feed off of your energy! You’re their role model for the summer, so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!
  1. At camp, time moves quickly! When you arrive for Staff Orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away…I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the end of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!
  1. Prepare to be enthusiastic about everything! From making the best friendship bracelets to playing others in Ping Pong, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Enjoy it as this is one of the ways your group shows pride!
  1. Expect to leave camp a changed person in some way! The summer will have a profound impact on you; the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but a summer at camp will change you for the better!

Living in the moment at Camp Laurel: A Counselors Perspective.

 

It was midway through the fifth week of summer camp when I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.

…Or what week it was.

You know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy in months.

After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?Scott-164

Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.

After a long school year of classes, homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.

“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.

…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — keeping my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.

Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. It’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.

So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!Scott-50

However, this isn’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the activity you’re rushing to that’s so much fun!

There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!

Honestly, the only date any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!

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