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Another Successful Summer

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!

Culminating Program Week

It’s very, very hard to believe there are only four days left of Program (actually, somewhere between 3 and 5 days, but we won’t say exactly lest you figure out when College Days will “break.”  It’s incredibly rewarding to see campers taking incredible advantage of their last regular program days of the summer. Mastering skills; finishing arts projects; dropping a ski for the first time; challenging a group-mate on the Tennis Ladder; challenging themselves in Dance or Fitness; scaling the Climbing Tower; running the Fit Trail; learning a new recipe in ChefCamp. The list goes on and on.

It was an action-packed week highlighted by the Triathlon and Lake Swim.

This weekend will feature great weather, and we’ll continue to play through until our Super Seniors tell us otherwise; after all, it’s they who help mastermind the start of our summer culminating activity. We’ll keep you up-to-date on all the goings-on in Readfield, and hope your weekend at home is going to be as special as ours, here on the eastern shore of our favorite lake!

Sheer Happiness…

During the summer season, many people visit camp while it’s in session. Some are alumni, some are colleagues, but most are families who are looking at which camp to send their children to the following year.

We show them around camp; introduce them to lots of campers and counselors; show them the facilities, cabins, and Lodge; give them a ride in one of our five Mastercrafts ski boats; and give them a snack.

 

Many of the camps these families are touring have really nice Tennis Courts, Fitness Centers, Culinary Centers, Ropes Courses and Lakes. (We’re biased, of course, and think ours are truly special). But the overwhelming comment we receive from these visitors is not at all about the facilities. It’s about the people. Their mood. Their sense of comfort. Their smiles. And the spirit and happiness they exude.

We couldn’t agree more when these visitors tell us they select Laurel for the environment and the community we’ve built here in Readfield. That makes us happy and makes us smile more than anything else!

Super Seniors 2019

One of the things we speak about a lot at camp is “modeling.”  Modeling good behavior, appropriate language, social responsibility, good sportsmanship and so on. We, of course, expect and trust our counselors to be excellent role models. We also except – and appreciate – when good modeling comes from our oldest campers: Super Seniors.

Becoming a Super Senior at Laurel is a right of passage. Some of our Super Seniors have been with us for four or five years, and others have been at camp for seven or eight. Whether a Super Senior grew up with us or started in Readfield later in their camping career, they have united as one group this season and are an incredibly well-respected, energetic and fun group.

It’s been gratifying to watch the Super Senior Class of 2019 emerge the last five weeks and, although they are currently out-of-camp on their seven-day Extended Trip throughout Maine and New Hampshire, we look forward to their return and the leadership and spirit they’ll exhibit during the last two weeks of the summer.

Week #2

As we approach the mid-point of Week #2, it’s so gratifying to look back and see all we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. The past ten days have been non-stop activity and beautiful weather.  It was great to take a break today, head out of camp on day trips, recharge our batteries, decompress, and enjoy the great state of Maine.

After an incredible July 4th cookout and fireworks celebration last night, our youngest Acadians and Apaches ventured to FunTown USA for a day of rides, friends, and splashing around in the wave pools. It’s another warm and sunny Maine day, so the waterpark is a very welcome retreat. Our Junior Baxter and Sequoia campers hit Aquaboggan for their water adventure, while Senior Baxter and Sequoia group toured the seaside town of Boothbay Harbor, and its rocky coast, fishing boats and terrific coastal sights. Bec and Bago are in Old Port at the docks, home of some of the best lobstering in the world.  Our Super Seniors enjoyed their day – and encore – at SplashTown.

We hit the regular program stride again tomorrow and it’s a menu of activity from the Ball Fields to the Courts, the Playhouse to the Equestrian Center, the Climbing Towers to the Metals Studio…and more.! And let’s not forget about Sunday night’s annual Ronny Romm Hypnotism Show – a summer highlight!  We can’t wait for the weekend and the week ahead.

And So It Begins…

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!

Pre-Orientation Trainings

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!

Growing Up at Camp Laurel

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.

 

The Place To Be Yourself

Camp Laurel is the ultimate place to let loose, be comfortable and be yourself. All summer long, campers are rocking face paint, transforming into super heroes, improving at their favorite sports and activities, and letting their imaginations run wild. Counselors let their inner child emerge, too. Everyone at camp feels safe: safe to use their imaginations and safe to be themselves.

Camp Laurel encourages campers to be themselves in a variety of ways. Planned down time allows campers the opportunity to explore and socialize with friends in a way that is supervised, but not overly structured. Campers have a catch, shoot hoops, play ping pong, and explore their interests. During structured activities, children are supported when they speak their minds, share opinions and talk things through. They learn to listen and respect one another. This allows campers to see different sides of a situation. Every summer, campers grow socially and emotionally in a unique way.

Counselors capitalize on their strengths of being fun, relatable, silly and responsible. They take pride in being role models. They help set the tone all summer by calming themselves down when it’s time to be more serious, and campers learn to differentiate times to be silly and times to be focused.

Children are often expected to be focused and serious throughout the school year; at camp, they foster their childlike wonder more often.  At camp, children feel safe to show off their relaxed and sometimes silly side.

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.

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