Kid Tales — Stories of Camp

Summer Camp is a time of firsts. The first time you try to catch a ball with a lacrosse stick (and realize you can!). The first time you get on on water-skis. The first time you serve an ace in tennis. The first time you get up on stage in front of hundreds of kids your age. The first time you scale the climbing tower…trot with your very own horse…..Now that camp has ended for the summer, we thought we’d share some tales from camp. What have the kids taken home with them to last the next 9 months, until camp starts again?

Many families are surprised at the sheer amount of first-time experiences their kids have at summer camp. When Justin, a 12 year old who attended camp this year, was asked to list things he did for the first time at camp, he had quite the list. “I learned how to play guitar, archery, and golf,” he said. During our conversation, it also came out that he also learned new baseball skills and got to play tennis. He also experienced the camp evening programs for the first time, which he raved about as being “fun and creative.” Justin’s going to be talking to a lot of people about camp when he goes back to school. And what is he going to tell them? “I made a lot of new friends and tried a lot of new things. I had the best time!”

My own summer camp experiences – way back in the 80s – were largely defined by a feeling of the summer camp community diffusing at the end of the summer. Of course, we would often promise to write letters we never sent or make long distance calls our parents wouldn’t pay for, but when summer was over, camp was tucked firmly behind us for another year.

With today’s technology, however, the summer camp community can stay together all year, even when they return to the home cities, states and countries. We have an active Facebook community where current campers, families and alumni can connect, share stories and keep up to date with the staff and the current session. Much of the chatter is about how much everyone misses camp and wishes they were back on the lake, riding the horses, singing in the dining hall, etc. For those who’ve connected to Camp Laurel through Facebook and other new social networks (Twitter anyone?), the camp experience doesn’t end with teary good-byes in August. So when will we meet again?


The Action Never Stops….

Another wonderful weekend at Laurel. Friday night was our annual Carnival and everyone had a blast with rides galore, fried dough and ice-cream cones, games, face painting and so much more! Saturday was busy as usual with seven different intercamps and tournaments going on and two camping trips out. The older campers danced the evening away at our weekly Saturday night social while the younger campers hit the fields for Sports Night. On Sunday, Senior Bec and Bago left on their overnight whitewater rafting trip down the Kennebec River and we hear they’re having the time of their lives! Sunday night was Festivus—the celebration of all holidays at once. Today, we sent out trips all over the state of Maine. Senior Acadia and Apache went out to Aquaboggin and Bec and Bago stopped by Funtown/Splashtown to beat the heat at a couple of Maine’s finest water parks. Baxter and Sequoia hit the shops and sights of Boothbay Harbor, while Frosh and Junior Acadia and Apache went to Rummels for some afternoon ice cream and mini golf.

Program in High Gear!

What an awesome week of camp with nearly perfect weather every day – low 80s and sunny. On Tuesday, we sent the whole camp to the Maine Waterparks because it got really hot. A great time was had by all!! We had an incredibly busy week with great programs and activities. More than 25 intercamps and tournaments…flag football, basketball, baseball, 6 v 6 soccer at Manitou…girls softball at Vega….soccer at Andro and the list goes on. It’s the Laurel Boys Tennis Tournament today with seven visiting camps on site. More than 40 campers were on Adventure overnight camping trips…Super Seniors began their first community service initiative at Camp Sunshine…and the new hypnotism show was a huge success with 20 staff members doing hilarious acts under a trance for nearly an hour!! It was unbelievable. Tonight is one of the most exciting nights of the summer—our annual Carnival! We have bouncy rides, face painting, fried dough, ice cream, and tons of other carnival games. We can’t wait!

Fireworks…Baseball…Tennis…Sailing…Intercamps…Non Stop Fun!

It was amazing weekend at camp. The weather has been magnificent and activities are in full swing. Adventure trips are out…our new Gourmet Cooking program is all the rage…Golf Plus is awesome…we’ve participated in more than 12 intercamps and tournaments already….and last nights Patriot Games and then fireworks on Echo Lake were unreal with the finale culminating in the lighting of the Moose! Today all campers and staff venture out on our first S- Day Out for 2010. Because of the great weather, we’re sending Acadia, Apache, Baxter and Sequoia to waterparks all over Maine…while Bec and Bago campers are headed to Boothbay Harbor and Old Port. It’s been a great first 10-days of camp!!

Off and Running…

What an incredible start to the summer! Our campers are finally here and we’ve jumped right into full activity. Everyone arrived safely on Saturday and met their counselors and cabinmates. Saturday night we had a relaxing and fun opening campfire where members of the Camp Laurel family shared stories and played music. On Sunday, we distributed everyone’s schedules and dove into camp! By Monday, camp was buzzing with activity from waterskiing in the lake to throwing pots in ceramics to playing soccer on the fields. It sure is great to be back!

We Can’t Wait to Welcome Campers!

Wow this week of orientation just flew by! Our staff spent the last week getting to know one another and learning what being a Camp Laurel counselor is all about. What a great time it’s been! The staff campfire showed us what incredible talent we have with us this summer. The ladies of Kennebec took home the trophy in the annual Campus Competes where we played Captain’s Coming, Flashlight Sing and other great camp games. Well done ladies! We spent all day yesterday unpacking camper bags and making the cabins look great so everyone will feel right at home when they arrive. Today, our staff had the day off so they’ll be nice and rested when the campers arrive tomorrow. Only one more day! We can’t wait!

Staff Orientation is in Full Swing!

The summer is just around the corner! Staff Orientation is in full swing and our staff is having a blast. We couldn’t be more excited about our new staff members…plenty of familiar faces around as well. Yesterday we went wild for Staff Chaos and we got some great photos for Laurel Today. Field night was a blast as well. Last night we had a professional square dance caller come in and we had ourselves a little Hoe Down. The weather’s been amazing — 80s and sunny almost every day. Still plenty of fun events going on the next few days. Tonight is the Orientation campfire. We can’t wait for the campers to arrive Saturday!!

Camp is … just around the corner!

We’re so excited to begin the May countdown to camp. The staff is hired…the fields are green…the new Hockey Arena is just about finished….and we are ready to start moving beds and cubbies getting everything set for arrival day. Believe it or not, our first group of “Pre Camp Staff” heads to Maine this week to work on opening preparations.

Claire has been busy in the Westport office communicating with the 250 plus counselors and staff members who begin their journey soon from all over the country…and the world…to Readfield. We have counselors coming from more than 50 colleges throughout the United States. In early June, the Campus Leaders come to work with myself, Debbie, Peter and Claire for a 6 day “Campus Leader Workshop.” They are followed by the entire Adventure Staff (those are the folks who lead our outdoor tripping, ropes, climbing and mountain biking programs) for their orientation program with Inner Quest and SOLO Wilderness Expeditions (these are two groups from Virginia and New Hampshire which have been leading our adventure Orientation programs for 15 years!). Next to arrive is the smallcrafts staff (sailing and windsurfing) who will jump right into their training with Warren, Holly and Geoff….and then the Department Heads come on June 14 before all counselors hit the scene on June 17.

We’ll check in from time to time to keep you updated with news from camp.

Back in Connecticut, we’re so thrilled to announce the arrival and new addition to our family — Tess Alexandra Sollinger. Tess will, of course, be with us at camp this summer. Tess was born on April 22nd and she and Debbie are doing GREAT! She can’t wait to meet everyone (camper and counselors). Needless to say, Anabel and Madeline are thrilled to have another Sollinger girl in the family and can’t wait to show her Camp Laurel in action come June.

As always, Debbie joins me in sending her warmest and best regards.