Camp Laurel Blog

Tag Archives: life at summer camp

Developing Leadership at Camp

 

Traditions, friends, life skills, self-esteem…campers may not realize it all at once, but the benefits of camp go on forever. It’s always a great thrill seeing our teenage campers take on leadership roles at camp. For many of them, it’s their first experience being called on to lead others. Whether it’s spending time with their Camp Little Brother or Camp Little Sister – carrying on traditions or setting the right example – Camp Laurel naturally allows campers to become role models and mentors to younger campers.

 

At Camp Laurel, our oldest campers in Bec and Bago get the best of both worlds. They’re still connecting with friends they’ve grown up with each summer but have the added bonus of passing on camp traditions. Campers remember looking up to older campers from their first summers. For many of them, being a mentor is one of the best aspects of Camp Laurel. The pride of being a leader brings many former campers back to camp as counselors.

Camp is so much more than hanging with friends and being away from home for the summer. Of course, it’s fun and allows campers to unplug, enjoy nature and build lifelong friendships. But it’s also a growing and maturing experience, and naturally develops leadership qualities they’ll use through their life.

Young Professionals Should Work at Camp

Summer is a few months away, and for college students searching for a summer job or internship, it’s right around the corner. Every year students compete for unpaid internships with lofty ambitions that they’re getting a foot in the door for their future careers. While there are great opportunities to be had in corporate settings, few summer gigs are as beneficial as working at camp. Here are some of the best incentives for working at Camp Laurel this summer!

Gaining Leadership Skills

Just like teaching in a classroom, being a camp counselor instantly puts you in a position to lead campers of different ages and skill levels. You’re constantly forging bonds with campers and other counselors, leading activities and communicating. Camp counselors quickly learn how to lead, because they understand the more engaging an activity is, the happier their campers are.

Creativity

We often say that a day at camp is like a week outside of camp, and camp people know that all too well. What’s better than a job where your coaching or instructing in the morning, making up new games during cabin time, and acting out your alter-ego on stage for a laugh in the evening? Camp gets you out of your comfort zone in the best way and allows the creative juices to flow every day.

Make Lifelong Friends

Camp is an immersive experience and there’s nothing else like it. Working alongside your peers is one thing, but living with them 24/7 is an entirely different experience. Campers and counselors alike build some of their truest, deepest friendships at Camp Laurel every summer!

Work Outdoors

Is there anything worse than squandering amazing summer days in an office? At Laurel you’re outside every day. It’s the perfect place to unplug, lace up and explore the beauty of Maine!

Make a Genuine Impact!

Campers are at a time in their lives when they’re looking for mentors, and Laurel is such a natural place to find them. It’s always the little things that count, and being there every day for your campers adds up to a lot of little (and big) moments that make a difference each summer. Counselors often don’t fully realize the impact they’ve made, but campers remember their counselors forever.

The Best Thing About Camp Laurel

Twelve summers ago, I heard about Camp Laurel through one of my college friends. I knew very little about summer camps and Maine. I remember looking at the website and thinking it would be a fun adventure before finding internships for future summers. Back then, very few websites had any videos at all, and I landed in Maine with few expectations.

Now, I tell new counselors how jealous I am that they’re about to experience Laurel for the first time. It’s like the notes of a great song or opening an inspiring book. As soon as it’s over, you want to tell everyone about it. That’s how Laurel is to me. But unlike a song that might get old, working at Laurel is the same rewarding experience every summer.

Each fall, my family and friends that haven’t experienced the joy of Camp Laurel ask me why I keep going back. I always start with the traditions, activities and working outside in beautiful Maine. That’s what they can understand without truly living 10 months for two. They feel my enthusiasm for Laurel. But, beyond the facilities, traditions and Echo Lake, there’s one thing that stands above everything else: the community.

Camp Laurel is special because of the people. From the counselors to the health center to the office and support staff, Camp Laurel is filled with amazing people who are passionate about what they’re doing. Most importantly, everyone has the same goal of giving our campers the best summer possible.

The Perfect Place to Unplug

One thing parents love so much about camp is that it has a unique way of shifting the mindset of campers. A summer at camp is a summer away from social media and texting and a time focused on nature, real relationships, character building and fun!

Camp Laurel immerses campers in a world unlike anything they’re used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.

Camp is a place full of big adventures and big fun. But amidst all that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From the quiet beauty of a bonfire or the thrill of climbing the rock wall, campers learn to look for the little things that add up to make a big difference in their camp experience.

With social media playing such a huge role in the lives of kids and teens, many parents wonder if their child could survive without checking Instagram or taking 20+ snaps on the way to school. Without technology and social media to worry about, kids can focus on what they do best: being kids. They have the entire summer to focus on making friends and having fun and they learn that being in the moment is far more important than finding the perfect filter to capture the moment. Social media has its advantages of course, but at camp, campers learn a valuable lesson: their worth is not defined by how many followers they have or how many likes their pictures get.

Camp changes the way campers see the world. By spending their summers at Camp Laurel, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.

Costumes at Camp

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!

Being Nice

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!

Taking a Breath

As we wind down week #3 and head into Week #4, the program continues to hum at a rapid pace. To be sure we stay on course, we intentionally work hard to ensure campers and counselors are well-rested and energetic. While waterskiing, playing basketball, soccer and tennis, doing gymnastics and scaling the Aerial Park are part of what camp is all about, when we’re at it five or six hours a day, four or five days in a row, its necessary to take a breath and re-charge.

Our weekly schedule automatically alters between A and B program days, with an S-Day (or Special Days) built in every fourth or fifth day. On S-Days, we sleep in bit, have a more relaxed breakfast, and enjoy in-camp events (Carnival, Traditions Day, Gold Rush, Triathlon to name a few).  Every other S-Day, depending on each campers age group, we also leave camp for an out-of-camp S-Day and take in sights along the Maine coast, visit a seacoast town, or hit a waterpark. 

Each night at camp there is a planned and well-executed evening program that is more recreational in nature and less instructional. Other than our weekly Sports Nite where all age groups play in a league under-the-lights, (football, soccer or hockey), we try and take it down a notch before bed. Favorite evening activities are campfires, hypnotist show, egg drop, talent nights, and, of course, weekly socials for our older campers. While every day at camp is programmed and scheduled, some are more relaxed. In today’s fast-paced world – even at camp where we are unplugged – this is an important facet of everyone’s good health.

The Quest

After a full week of non-stop program (hard to believe we’ve been together for almost a week!), we had a rain day yesterday. So we slept in an extra hour and moved our activities to our many indoor locations: Fieldhouse, Playhouse, Arts Centers, Fitness and Dance Studios, Tanager, Lodge and more. After five straight days of great weather, non-stop action on the lake, on the ballfields and on the courts, it was a welcome break! This morning, we awoke to one of Camp Laurel favorite traditions: The Quest!

During Quest, we break into 16 teams split across age groups and have an amazing day of friendly competition. It’s a great way to break up our busy schedule and allows campers from different age groups to get to know each other and bond. Our Super Seniors lead the effort and do a spectacular job running this amazing all-camp event.

With the first week nearly behind us, we look forward to ramping up our summer calendar as camping trips, inter-camps, tournaments, golf trips and special events crank up. We look forward to the weekend ahead with program days and lots of time swimming, waterskiing, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking and even snorkeling!

And We’re Off

And We’re Off…

It was a magical start to camp. After a flawless arrival day Saturday, our camp family was reunited and the action hasn’t stopped since. Following our traditional Opening Campfire, we leapt right into program on Sunday and haven’t stopped since. We met our Camp Sisters and Brothers, hosted open calls for High School Musical, ran through the Bec and Bago Sports Combines, and were everywhere in 72 hours:  from the Lake to the Ballfields, Tennis Courts to the Hockey Arena, Equestrian Center to the Aerial Park.

While the activities and program are running full bore, the part about camp everyone loves best is being with each other. Friends have been reunited. And in short order, the “newcomers” quickly became part of the extended Laurel family. 

Welcome home everyone!  The best lies ahead…

What I Learned at Camp

Summer is winding down. Wait – we just got here!

That’s how fast camp goes. One day a kid boards the bus with nervous anticipation. The next, he heads home on the same bus with a smile and a lifetime of memories.

They don’t even realize that – in addition to having tons of fun – they’ve grown a lot.

The other day, we asked a few of our campers what they learned this summer. Here’s what they shouted – er, said:

  • Counselors are cool. We talked about everything.
  • Before I went to camp, people said the food stinks. It didn’t.
  • I learned I could swim a lot farther than I thought. But the waterfront guys told me I could do it all along.
  • It’s impossible for my counselor to pack everything back up the way my mom did before camp.
  • It’s okay to wake up early if you don’t know what time it is.
  • I’m not sure, but I may ask my parents if I can do yoga when I get home.
  • Sometimes when people say “hurry up, you’ll be late,” they really mean it. Sometimes they don’t.
  • I always thought I liked lacrosse better than soccer. Now I’m not sure.
  • I saw my sister less this summer than I do at home. But it was still nice having her here.
  • No one will clean up your cabin for you, except you.
  • It’s really nice if your parents write a lot, even if they don’t say much in their letters.
  • It’s hard to canoe when your paddle falls in the water.
  • I have eight new best friends.
  • When they tell you to bring a sweatshirt and a blanket, they know what they are talking about.
  • I was positive I couldn’t live without my cell phone. Now I forget where I put it in my room before I left.
  • How come no one ever told me that waterskiing was so much fun?
  • It’s good to go on trips away from camp. And it’s good to come back.
  • I like my new nickname a lot.
  • When I came to camp I missed my dog. When I go home I’m going to miss my horse.
  • Maine is an awesome state!
  • It feels like I grew five inches, but the nurse says only one.
  • I still can’t sing, but our play was amazing anyway.
  • My goal in life is to come back as a counselor.
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