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!
The sun is setting earlier, the nights are a bit cooler and camp is over. After living, playing, learning, laughing and growing together for seven weeks, we now reflect on another incredible season. The bonds that were forged at Camp Laurel are remarkably strong. Camp is a unique place where children and counselors wake up, eat, play and spend the days together with friends all summer long.
The magical thing about summer camp is that it goes far beyond seven weeks. Memories last a lifetime, and everything is more than it seems. Playing basketball isn’t just about gaining and improving skills, but also about learning to be a good sport and teammate. Finishing a ceramics project is about following directions and unlocking creativity. Campers conquer their fears and step out of their comfort zones at the Aerial Park. In the cabin they build confidence by celebrating each other’s achievements, supporting one another and living together.
The lessons learned at camp translate in the real world. Whether in the classroom, at extracurricular activities or in the community, camp helps us become better students, teammates and friends. Parents: We know you’ll have the chance to talk with your camper about what they learned this summer. As always, we want to thank our campers, camp parents and counselors for another amazing summer!
How could it be that so quickly – almost instantly, in fact – old friends reunited and newcomers felt like part of the family? It happened because we have engaging, warm and amazing staff members who greeted your children at the plane or motorcoach departure areas and made sure they were well taken care of on the trip to camp. And it happened because when they arrived at camp, they were met with open arms and embraced like family members who hadn’t seen each other in a year!
After arrival and the requisite head checks, we had a great Opening Ceremony and longevity recognition awards. The very next day we took some informal cabin pictures and then fell into regular program and activity for our first A Day of the summer. All areas of camp were humming and the program looked great with campers honing new skills and experimenting in new arenas perhaps not yet tried. What an amazing first few days!
One of the best days of Staff Orientation is called “Let’s Go To Camp.” On this day, Acadian and Apache Specialists play the role of campers and attend programs throughout the day while Program Staff run their various activity areas.
It’s great to see the Specialists having a ball on the Climbing Towers, on the Lake, Courts, Fields and Arts Activity areas…and even better to watch our Program Staff perform and master their sills!
After Let’s Go to Camp and a solid week of Orientation, our counselors enjoyed a well-deserved day off, and we spend tomorrow in final preparations for Wednesday’s arrival. Counselor chaperones leave for Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, South Florida, New York City, Westchester and Chicago bright and early tomorrow morning. We know you’re preparing for a final day and family dinner tomorrow, so enjoy these moments. Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
And parents: We’re ready for your children! We’ve got you covered and we’re ready to take and care for them as you fully expect and deserve.
We’re sailing, climbing, hiking and riding our way to summer one training session at a time. Our full staff arrive tomorrow, but summer is well underway with several Pre-Orientation trainings. We’ve welcomed our Campus Leaders, Athletic and Inter Arts Department Heads, Adventure, Medical, Equestrian and Sailing staff. For returners it’s been a great week re-connecting with colleagues and greeting new staff. First-timers are learning what makes Camp Laurel the wonderful place it is.
These incoming staff groups are always thrilled to arrive at Laurel. Small Crafts staff have extra time on the water to familiarize themselves with Echo Lake and our fleet of boats. Adventure counselors go through specialized training focused on safety and curriculum within their specific programs – outdoor tripping, climbing or aerial park. Our administrative team of Department Heads, Program Area Directors and Campus Leaders is made up of an almost entirely veteran crew and they’re preparing to lead our counselors through Orientation.
For the next week, staff will learn about their job as camp counselors: living and taking care of campers, and teaching at a program area. Everyone is smiling, the Laurel spirit is alive and well around camp and we’re pumped to welcome counselors tomorrow. And, of course, we’re ecstatic for camper arrival on June 26th!
Looking back at my first summer at Camp Laurel I fondly and vividly remember getting off the bus to loads and loads of cheering campers and counselors. I met my counselors and my new friends and made my way to my cabin where my bed was neatly made. Arriving at camp for the first time felt like a whirlwind, and then it was calm as I read the letter from my parents that was waiting on my pillow.
Heading into my Super Senior summer, I remember cheering for the same friends – and all the younger campers – as they got off the bus. Some had butterflies – I’m sure – like I hadn’t since my first summer. I watched with excitement as the youngest campers eagerly awaited meeting their counselors and cabinmates. I also felt a twinge of sadness because I knew that even though the summer I’d been looking forward to every year at camp was here, it meant I was that much closer to my final days as a camper.
Experiences at camp summer after summer brought remarkable transformations to my life. Over the years I learned to trust others, build relationships, accept guidance and develop decision-making skills. More than that, the friendships I made and the memories we created will last a lifetime. Spending my summers growing up at Camp Laurel has shaped me in the most positive ways.
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.
Camp is one of the great positive experiences that can truly alter the course of ones’ life. Campers and counselors are exposed to new ideas, activities and situations that provide eye-opening opportunities. Campers can try a new sport that might become a passion resulting in making a high school sports team. Counselors might realize that working with children is their calling in life.
Campers from different regions are exposed to new programs and activities that may not be widely available in their area… wakeboarding, equestrian, stand-up paddling to name a few. They may discover a passion for cooking in ChefCamp or the wide variety of artistic endeavors beyond painting.
Counselors experience new things as they learn to care for others. They’re afforded the opportunity to instruct and coach in their area of expertise. They meet peers and mentors from all over the world – creating a network of people with shared interests and goals.
Campers and counselors learn about kindness, patience and community as they share time, space and triumphs with their cabinmates and friends. Camp provides a place for all to unplug and mentally recharge. A place where we celebrate achievements and embrace learning opportunities. Everyone plays sports; everyone gets up on waterskis; everyone sings around the campfire. Everyone is challenged at the appropriate level and improves, whether in the arts, athletics, acting or adventure. Everyone has a place at camp.
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.
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.