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!
The next ten days of camp are going to be AWESOME! Now that our older campers have returned from their trips, we’re back as one Laurel Family and getting ready for Lake Swim, Sleeping Beauty, final Camping Trips, final Tournaments and Intercamps and, of course, College Days. Chants of “” are starting to erupt in the Dining Hall and Cove.
While camp is starting to enter its final stretch of the summer, there’s still lots to do and we won’t miss a beat. Full program is running until this weekend when we enter the cherished College Days. At that time, the camp will be evenly broken into two teams for five days of spirited competition and fun. No one knows when it will come…or how it will come…but the anticipation is building!
College Days is a great opportunity to watch our Super Seniors shine for the culmination of their Laurel camp careers. All Super Seniors take a leadership role in College Days and it’s most certainly the most coveted time of their summers with us.
More on College Days later in the week. But for now – it’s back to camp and all the things we love: our Friends, our Counselors, the Activities and so much more.
What a week gone by with so much more to look forward to.
We started our Second Rotation of the summer Saturday and we’re off and running. All program areas are in high gear and the skill progression in every facet of camp is evident and noticeable. From the Tennis Courts to the Lacrosse Fields, the Aerial park to Mountain Biking, and the Fitness Center and Dance Studio to the Soccer Pitch, it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished in just under four weeks.
This week we have more instructional days and some great special events at night. Eric the Amazing Illusionist delighted and dazzled us last night and tonight Laurel Theatre presents High School Musical 2 as performed by our four older campuses. Our older campers have been rehearsing for three weeks in anticipation of tonight’s extravaganza. Thursday is the annual Group Sing and we’re psyched to see who will wear this summer’s crown! Group Sing is always a summer highlight.
Intercamps and Tournaments are in full swing…campers are loving their overnight excursions all over Maine…and, of course, we’re getting excited for Visiting Weekend coming up this Saturday.
Camp Laurel is a virtual city in itself. And the cabins are the campers’ summer homes. While Camp Laurel has great facilities – on the water and on land – it’s the cabins that really make camp a homey, warm and comfortable environment for each camper.
While the Camp Laurel day starts with wake-up at 7:45 AM (or 8:15 AM for older campers) we are “on the move” all day long. The cabin is a special place where each child’s summer family (campers and counselors) comes together to share the day, spend quality time and, of course, sleep. In addition to each child’s cabin, campers are also a member of a “campus.” That’s the area of camp where children live, hang out, play ping pong and pop-a-shot, spend their free time and bond with not just their cabin – but 35-45 campers in their own age group. While the camp day is frenetic, the campus is a great place to relax, unwind, play some cards, tell stories, share a joke and chill.
We’re so pumped for Week 4 coming up. The summer is literally flying by but there’s lots more to come, including the beginning of Second Rotation Activities which start tomorrow. We’re psyched!
We talk about “participation” a lot at Camp Laurel. We offer an incredibly diverse program and one of our camp requirements is that campers participate fully in our active and healthy program. In addition to required swim instruction, tennis instruction and core team sports (baseball/softball, soccer, basketball and lacrosse), campers have an opportunity to select a handful of their other activities.
This week, while our drone was flying overhead, Laurel was a beehive of action-packed activity and fun. There was basketball, hockey and outdoor fitness. There was equestrian, golf and mountain biking. And, we were even able to peak through the windows of Rockport (our digital recording studio) ChefCamp, radio and ceramics.
Off camp this week we participated in more than 30 different games and tournaments with Androscoggin, Takajo, Winnebago, Matoaka, Caribou, Cobbossee, Vega and Manitou. We traveled throughout Maine on camping trips to our state and national parks. And, campers took a break from the heat and enjoyed the fun of an S Day at Funtown Splashtown, Aquaboggan and Old Port.
While two weeks have already passed, there’s a whole summer still in front of us. And we can’t wait ’til Monday’s annual Camp Laurel Carnival!
We 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.
Beautiful 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.
Most children step off the bus and get their first glance of summer camp as eager, excited, and slightly nervous seven or eight year olds. It’s their first time away from home and they’re not quite sure what to expect. Few register those first moments as the first of a seven year adventure. It’s just the first summer, after all. Even parents sometimes forget that summer camp isn’t just one summer and, in that regard, is much more than a campus. It is a place where children grow up, and it should be a place where campers are every bit as enthusiastic about stepping off the bus their seventh year as they are their first. It should be a place where they feel an integral part of something larger.
Relationships form early at camp. The friends campers make their first year are often their closest throughout their camp careers. The adrenaline filled first meeting is the beginning of several years in the making. But the accepting environment of camp that encourages children to try new things also facilitates the promise of new friendships each summer. What campers learn as they progress through summers is that at “their camp,” no two summers are quite the same.
There is always the element of the unexpected at camp. Anticipation throughout the winter to return to camp is driven by the mystery of how the next summer will be different than the last. The ability to envision the campus as pretty much the same way they left it (with maybe a few upgrades or improvements) eliminates the element of fear in change for children. The stability of the campus itself makes change something to which campers can look forward. Boating docks, dining halls and arts and crafts studios become favorite spots as the settings of memories from summer to summer. Although they are the same places they were the summer before, the memories campers associate with them make them slightly different.
That first exploratory summer, young campers are also able to observe and begin to anticipate the various rites that occur as they age. They look forward each summer to special trips and activities that are exclusive to their second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh summer. In the end, summer camp isn’t a singular experience. It’s the sum total of many summers and a culmination of friends, activities, traditions and memories that builds from that first welcome on the first day of camp that first summer.
Stem is a popular buzzword—or, more appropriately, acronym–circulating among educational circles, but it might not be a term one might expect to hear within summer camp circles. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, four subject areas to which educators are increasingly striving to give students additional exposure, and summer camps are hopping on the bandwagon. According to the American Camp Association, STEM related activities have been among the most popular additions to summer camp programs over the past five years and for good reason. Summer camp provides campers with an alternative venue to learn in ways that are fun. Classrooms are replaced with the outdoors or facilities designed exclusively for individual programs and class size is vastly reduced allowing campers to be able to take a more intricate, hands on approach to exploring STEM areas through related camp activities. According to the New York Daily News, the average class size in New York, an area in which summer camp is particularly popular, is 25 students. In some schools, class sizes exceed 30 students. STEM related camp programs such as Nature, Rocketry and Radio, are often capped at fewer than a dozen campers per activity period. STEM related programs increasingly prove to be among the most popular with campers. So why are children flocking to educational niche programs? There are likely several reasons.
First, summer camp provides an informal, laid back setting. There is no homework. There is no syllabus. There are no lectures. There are no deadlines. There are no exams. It’s completely a ‘participate to the level of your comfort’ environment. All campers are encouraged to try camp STEM related programs at least once during the summer, but some find a new interest or passion and return several times. The ‘participate as you wish’ approach also allows campers to choose how to focus their interests. Counselors, often college majors or professionals in the area that they lead, are facilitators. They are there to encourage and assist campers in channeling their efforts into particular aspect of a STEM related activity if they so desire.
Second, the whole point of summer camp is for campers to have fun. So it goes without saying that camp activities are designed to emphasize fun, even those related to subject areas in which students are traditionally less than enthusiastic during the school year. In that regard, educational niche programs at sleepaway camp aren’t intended to compete with or replace the learning that takes place during the school year, but to enhance it.
Third, there is a healthy mixture of activity. Unlike a school setting in which students move through subjects throughout the day typically in a lecture setting, at least half of the day at a traditional summer camp is spent outside where campers take part in sports and water activities. Many camps also incorporate a designated time to rest into their programming day in order to give campers and staff the opportunity to recharge. So those program activities that could be perceived as educational are mixed in with healthy doses of physical activity and relaxation. This allows campers proper time and space to both process the activities in which they take part throughout the day and to approach future activities with a fresh mind.
Although traditional summer camp STEM related programs are not intended to replace those offered in schools, they may ultimately be equally attributable to inspiring future scientists, technologists, engineers, or mathematicians by encouraging campers to explore these subjects in ways and to a level that they might not get to do during the school year. Some campers may carry a new found interest in these subject areas home and take on a new enthusiasm at school, making summer camp STEM related programs an invaluable addition to their program lineup.
Elasticity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality of being adaptable.” By definition, elasticity is not merely a description of successful campers and staff, but a description of summer camp itself. Summer camps have existed for over a century and are generally considered a piece of Americana. With well over 12,000 summer camps across the United States (and a collective enrollment in the tens of millions), however, summer camp is anything but a thing of the past. It’s a strong “tradition” that continues to attract families from all over the world.
One might be tempted to ask what quality of summer camp enables it to continue to thrive. Undoubtedly, that quality its elasticity. While summer camps are rooted in tradition, they’re also in tune with the contemporary needs of children. Summer camp was originally a place where parents sent their children to escape from the health hazards posed by the increasing industrialization of cities. Now, it’s a place where children are sent to escape the automation of society. Camp is no longer merely a place to reconnect with nature but with each other as well. Summer camps have expanded their activities to reflect this evolution. In addition to sports, camps offer activities such as outdoor adventure, which include rope and obstacle courses designed for team building.
Summer camps have also tapped into the rising de-emphasis of the arts in public schools and embraced programs that encourage campers to explore their creative sides. In addition to traditional arts & crafts, many camps now provide campers with options in cooking, music, magic, and even circus arts. The generous availability of these programs attracts families who want their children to have the opportunity to explore their artistic sides.
In demonstrating a clear understanding of how campers benefit from attending camp, summer camps have been able to adapt by translating the voids created by advancements in society into meaningful and timeless activities.
A joke telling session in the cabin during a rainy morning, lying in the cabin during rest hour, or sitting by the waterfront and talking with friends as the sun goes down are what we call downtime at summer camp. Children need downtime to process learning experiences and recharge their creative juices, notes parenting expert Michael Grose. He believes downtime is an important life skill that every child should learn to enjoy and appreciate. Yes, sleepaway camps like to keep campers busy. After all, that’s what they come for. But camps also place emphasis on the value of the summer camp experience as a way to get out of the routine of everyday life, which is what makes summer camp the perfect place for children to learn downtime.
At home, it’s easy to get lost in the constant “go” routine to which so many children are accustomed. Many of them go straight from school to sports rehearsals or music lessons, sometimes both or several in one night. Then there is the inevitable stack of homework waiting when they finally get a few moments in the evening. They also see their parents constantly on the move. In such an environment, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that one should always be operating at full speed. At camp, however, the environment is decidedly one that is about slowing down and appreciating individual moments and accomplishments.
Camp is also contained. Campers have only a few weeks each summer to maximize their camp experience. They can’t look too far ahead without looking beyond camp, which no camper wants to do. That’s why campers like to take advantage of that brief rain shower, an hour of rest in the afternoon, or a few moments after dinner to enjoy the camp environment and bond with friends.
Says Grose, “Free, child-initiated play is the ultimate in relaxation. Fun games, games with few rules and games that kids control help them to unwind.” And learning to unwind is what camp is all about.