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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…

The Next Ten Days

detail 142 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!

detail 72College 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.

Back as One

detail 117Our Bec and Bago campers returned from their Extended Trips to Boston and Montreal and they had a great time! Except for our Super Seniors who return this Sunday, we’re all back as one Laurel Family. It was an incredible last week — in camp and out of camp — and we are all excited for the program-filled week that lies ahead. The weather has been incredible and everyone is energized for the next two weeks of camp.

We have a lot in store these next two weeks. Coming up, we’ll be immersed in activities far and wide — on the Ballfields, on the Hard-Courts, on Echo Lake, in the Adventure Courses and in all our Art Studios — all over camp. Trips and Intercamps are still in full swing. Rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty are in high gear. Sixth Period Specials abound in every area of camp. And everyone is excited for their groups “movie trip” a time for campers and counselors to chill out, relax, and take a break from the heat.detail 118

Take a look around Laurel — its crazy to think how fast the last five weeks have flown by. But as we like to say in Readfield: The very best is yet to come!

Reignited for the Next Three Weeks

detail 106With Visiting Day behind us, we’re reignited for the next three weeks of camp and they are chock-full of program, activity, specials events and trips. Our Bec and Bago campers have all departed on their Extended Trips and are having a blast. These trips are a great way to break up the summer and give our oldest campers a brief “teen travel experience.” They are always a summer highlight.

In Readfield, the four lower campuses have the “run of the place” and are taking advantage of every part of camp. We have an incredible week planned for them including the 2016 Olympics, VIP Nites, Dinner Parties, Twilight Waterskiing, Skills Clinics and more.

detail 127While there’s only three weeks left of camp – there’s still so much to do. In every department around camp, skills are being honed and projects expanded upon. Cabins are functioning at their highest levels and friendships are abundant everywhere!! We love watching the relaxed and comfortable  interactions between cabinmates who reunited four weeks ago after ten months away – or met for the first time in late June. It is, of course, the essence of what makes camp… camp.

Welcome to Visiting Day 2016!

detail 93We’re so happy to welcome you to our summer home. We’re looking forward to a great day!

The Front Gate opens at 9:30AM.  Please plan to arrive by 9:00 so you can park, check-in and be ready to meet your children. The weather is supposed to be hot and a bit stormy — so please dress appropriately, stay hydrated (we’ll have plenty of water) and bring a small umbrella just in case.

Remember we have two Lunch locations for you: The Main Dining Hall and a smaller BBQ location by the Fieldhouse. Help yourselves to either.

We (and of course your kids) cant wait to see you tomorrow in Readfield!!

Intercamps, Trips, Special Events and More!

detail 71What 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. detail 61

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.

Week 4 on the Horizon

detail 55Camp 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.
detail 17
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!

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.

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