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.
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.
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.
Summer is a few months away, and for college students searching for a summer job or internship, it’s right around the corner. Every year students compete for unpaid internships with lofty ambitions that they’re getting a foot in the door for their future careers. While there are great opportunities to be had in corporate settings, few summer gigs are as beneficial as working at camp. Here are some of the best incentives for working at Camp Laurel this summer!
Gaining Leadership Skills
Just like teaching in a classroom, being a camp counselor instantly puts you in a position to lead campers of different ages and skill levels. You’re constantly forging bonds with campers and other counselors, leading activities and communicating. Camp counselors quickly learn how to lead, because they understand the more engaging an activity is, the happier their campers are.
We often say that a day at camp is like a week outside of camp, and camp people know that all too well. What’s better than a job where your coaching or instructing in the morning, making up new games during cabin time, and acting out your alter-ego on stage for a laugh in the evening? Camp gets you out of your comfort zone in the best way and allows the creative juices to flow every day.
Make Lifelong Friends
Camp is an immersive experience and there’s nothing else like it. Working alongside your peers is one thing, but living with them 24/7 is an entirely different experience. Campers and counselors alike build some of their truest, deepest friendships at Camp Laurel every summer!
Is there anything worse than squandering amazing summer days in an office? At Laurel you’re outside every day. It’s the perfect place to unplug, lace up and explore the beauty of Maine!
Make a Genuine Impact!
Campers are at a time in their lives when they’re looking for mentors, and Laurel is such a natural place to find them. It’s always the little things that count, and being there every day for your campers adds up to a lot of little (and big) moments that make a difference each summer. Counselors often don’t fully realize the impact they’ve made, but campers remember their counselors forever.
I fondly remember my summers at camp: living in a cabin with 10 other boys and my counselors, playing sports for sunset to sundown, Intercamp games, College Days, the list goes on. And while I remember those amazing summers like they were yesterday, they were almost 40 years ago! While I enjoyed camp in my time, kids today benefit from the experience more than ever.
Today’s world has become far more competitive when it comes to youth sports. In many cases, the chance to play many sports throughout the year is replaced by the need to focus on one sport. Children no longer play little league baseball until it’s soccer season until it’s basketball season. It seems that, at eight years old, children pick a sport to concentrate on and hope you are good enough to make the neighborhood traveling team. That’s a lot of pressure at a young age.
At Camp Laurel, children play every sport they want. Newcomers to a sport can learn the rules and fundamentals while experienced campers focus on improving skills. Everyone is met at their respective levels by talented coaches who share their passion of the game. Campers can be part of the team, get ample playing time and learn to love the game.
Children today are overly reliant on technology. Time playing outside with friends has been replaced with screen-time. Often times TV, computers and cell phones replace meaningful play time with others. Camp affords children the opportunity to unplug for the summer, enjoying interaction with their peers and counselors.
Campers also gain a new sense of independence and responsibility at camp. They help keep their cabin and area clean during the summer. They learn to make their bed, put away their clothes and work with their friends to keep the whole cabin clean. They learn to communicate with each to problem-solve. Many parents notice their children come home from camp more confident and independent.
All in all, camp allows children to take a deep breath, relax, have fun, grow as a person, foster friendships and create a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime!
How do people develop into good role models? Are they easy to pick out? What character traits make them up? Like everything in life, being a good role model takes practice. It’s rarely a responsibility that anyone is initially prepared for, but Laurel provides campers an experience that will help tremendously.
Campers in Bec and Bago (7th to 9th graders) have the opportunity to be Camp Big Brothers and Sisters. Their “little” will be their biggest fan! The relationship between camp brothers or sisters is more than just a tradition. It’s one of the first chances at making a difference in someone’s life. And to be completely honest, it feels really good to have others look up to you!
Building the relationship is the first step in the process. Something as simple as going out of your way to say hi and ask them how they are doing is a great way to start. You could stop by their table at lunch to check in. Or seek them out during all-camp events. It only takes a few of these interactions before they feel connected and ready to be led in the right direction.
Being a role model at camp is so much more than being a good friend. It’s about following Camp Laurel’s philosophy of being “kinder than necessary”, choosing your attitude even when things may not go your way, and of course, having fun!
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.
Our Junior and Senior Bec and Bago campers returned from their Boston and Montreal extended trips and had amazing time. As they came back into camp, Jem hopped on each motorcoach to welcome everyone home and remind the campers they are now back at camp and out of the “real world.” This quick reminder is a good time to re-set the campers as they head back into camp for the next two weeks of activities, program and fun. Super Seniors are, of course, still out on their trip and having a blast. This is their time to unplug together as a group before they come back into camp Sunday and enter their final 12 days as Laurel campers.
Back in Readfield, our program continues to hum along as we head into Week #6 with the Lion King Musical, Sports Night Championships, Dance Showcase, Camper Talent Night, and final rounds of intercamps and tournaments. As with most camps, early in Week #7, we slide into culminating special events and programs. While the calendar turns soon to August, and it’s starting to feel like College Days may be upon us…there’s still so much more to do! And as we tell everyone – campers and staff – take advantage of your time now!
One of the things we talk about in the cabins, at program areas, in the Lodge at meals, at evening activities, and even on trips is: being nice. Sometimes, campers need to be reminded about this, and it’s our job, as caring and responsible adults, to do this in a loving and constructive way.
At the first campfire of the summer, Jem and Debbie talk about being kind and respectful to each other. It’s not only the right thing to do – it’s expected here. This is a value we reinforce throughout the summer. Before we leave on our first S-Day trip, Jem reminds everyone they are leaving Camp Laurel and heading into the outside world, and we want our campers to be great citizens so they feel terrific about themselves and they represent Camp Laurel well.
Kindness and respect are key ingredients to a happy cabin life, and therefore a happy summer. It’s a value we speak about regularly, and reinforce when necessary. Fortunately, we have an environment at Camp Laurel that fosters respect and kindness, and we watch random acts of kindness and respect occur all day long.These values are important at camp. They’re important at school. They’re important at home. And, of course, they’re important in life!
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.