Camp Laurel South Blog

Food… Glorious Food

IMG_6043 One of the perks about sending your child to Laurel South is that a good chef may return home to you. Your child who only knew how to make a sandwich or had no idea how to boil water may come back as a baking, sautéing foodie who has a newfound appreciation for seasonings, sauces and the magic that can happen in the kitchen. This transformation begins when campers take advantage of the Culinary Studio at Laurel South. Led by our Head Chef and specialists who have a wealth of experience, our incredible, fully-integrated Culinary Studio gives campers the tools, appliances and space to create their favorite dishes and learn a few new ones.

Encouraging your child to explore their culinary side not only ensures you’ll get to try some of their creations once they return home, but also teaches them valuable life skills. Cooking is not just throwing ingredients together and waiting until it’s edible. Cooking is an art, and a way for aspiring chefs to express themselves. The thought, preparation, and emotion that goes into cooking is something many children find challenging but rewarding. They learn valuable skills such as time management, following directions and communication. Cooking also perfects math and science skills in a way that is fun and different.

IMG_7345When your child is able to start and finish a project in the kitchen, their self-confidence grows and they become more self-assured and willing to try new things that seem out of their comfort zone. When they are active in the kitchen and learn about the things that go into their food, they are also learning about making healthy choices when it comes to what they eat.

Cooking gives children a sense of purpose and something they feel they can contribute to the family. Once a camper’s family takes a bite of their famous mac and cheese or savory French Onion soup and can’t get enough, they’ll feel that they have a valuable quality to contribute to family functions. Even if they just learn basic cooking skills, the importance of cleaning up after yourself, and how to measure properly, they will be ahead of most of their peers.

Whether your child is a chef-in-the-making, or is just starting to show interest in the kitchen, cooking at camp is a great way for kids to explore culinary arts.

Camp: A Safe Place to be Silly

DSC_0087  Campers donning big, silly hats and oversized costumes can be found dancing and singing their hearts out on stage at Laurel South. You can see campers giggling in groups, and others transforming into super heroes and villains as their imaginations run wild. Of course, staff members get in on the action too, letting their inner-child emerge by singing, dancing and playing along with the campers. Campers and counselors feel safe at camp; safe to be silly, safe to use their imaginations and safe to just “let go.” They learn right away that camp is a judgment-free space, where they can be themselves and act like a kid. In a world where kids are exposed to adult themes in their TV shows, music and social media, it can be easy for them to lose the silly, magical, goofy part of themselves, in fear of looking “uncool” to their peers. Not at camp, though.

Laurel South encourages campers to be silly in a variety of ways. Programmed “free time” allows campers to explore and socialize with their friends in a way that is supervised, but not highly structured. This gives campers time to use their imaginations. Some campers like to put on skits or host a cabin comedy club. They are encouraged to do and say the silly, kid-like things that come so naturally to them.

IMG_0721During structured activities, kids are supported when they speak their minds, share their opinions and engage in discussions. They are taught to listen to and respect each other, which gives children the green light to do and say silly things without fear of embarrassment or ridicule. By exploring this side, kids develop a sense of humor. A good sense of humor helps children be spontaneous, to see different sides of a situation, enjoy the playful parts of life and not take themselves too seriously. These character traits are extremely helpful for kids who have a lot of stress and responsibility in school, sports and life back in the real world. A good sense of humor also increases their self-esteem, which is always a bonus!

DSC_0084Counselors are counselors because they like kids, and they enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of children. They are fun, relatable and great at being silly. They know they are role models for the campers, so they make it a point to set a good example. When counselors can sing, dance and act silly, campers catch on quickly and begin to feel safe to do the same. They are also a good example of knowing a “time and place” to be silly. They model how to calm themselves down when it is time to be serious, and teach campers how to differentiate between a place where it’s okay to be silly (free time) and a time when being calm and focused is more productive (quiet time in the cabins).

Children are expected to be focused and serious for a large portion of their day in the “real world,” so it is important to foster their childlike wonder and silliness whenever possible. At Laurel South, kids can feel safe to show off their silly side.

Camp Leaders

IMG_9157Confident leaders aren’t born; they’re made. And great leaders are often made from spending time at camp. Campers and counselors alike leave camp with a better understanding of how to help others and act as positive role models for those around them.

From the first day they arrive, campers are placed in a group setting that, for most of them, is very different from what they’re used to. They eat with their peers, spend the day doing activities with their peers, and share their mornings and nights side by side with them as well. This is the perfect situation for campers to build leadership skills. Campers have countless opportunities on a daily basis to make good decisions to positively affect their camp experience and learn lessons for their lives ahead.

Campers’ involvement in sports helps foster strong leadership traits, such as being a team player, being fair, and winning and losing with grace. Team sports like soccer, lacrosse and baseball encourage campers to step up and be leaders of their team and to be a positive example for their teammates. Campers who participate in individual activities like waterskiing, climbing, archery, gymnastics and dance are leaders when they choose to make responsible choices regarding their involvement and commitment to the activity that they chose. Arriving on time, respecting their competition and their counselors, and doing their best every day are all great ways campers can act as leaders at camp.

A good leader is someone who can assist others well. Campers have plenty of opportunities each and every day to be helpful and kind to their peers. They are encouraged to support each other, communicate with each other, and be an honest and loyal friend. Even if they aren’t aware of it, the building of these characteristics is also building a leader in every camper.

DSC_0132-2Campers aren’t the only ones who leave camp as stronger and more confident leaders. Counselors who spend their summer at camp also learn valuable leadership skills in a much more obvious and intentional way. They are trained thoroughly on what it means to be a leader and positive role model for children. They are very aware that there are always young and impressionable eyes watching everything they say and do. Counselors learn very quickly that being a counselor doesn’t just mean making sure all of the kids follow the rules. They become teachers, big brothers/sisters, role models and friends. Camp counselors also get an opportunity to improve their time management, problem solving and multitasking skills. The training and education required to be a camp counselor prepares them for managing groups of children in a confident, patient and trusted way.

Whether they come to camp as a camper or a counselor, everyone leaves camp as a more confident leader. This confidence transfers over to their attitudes toward their siblings, friends, coworkers and teammates in the real world. The world is a better place with leaders like the ones developed at camp.

Tennis Anyone…

DSC_0044-2What do seeds, chips and double bagels have in common? No, they aren’t things you’ll find at the summer camp buffet. They are terms commonly used in one of the world’s most popular sport, that is enjoyed by hundreds of campers every summer: Tennis.

Tennis is fast paced, competitive and fun. It’s a great workout, as it keeps players constantly moving, running and swinging. For campers who prefer individual sports, tennis is a great option. It improves speed, agility and hand-eye coordination, skills that are beneficial for all kinds of sports. It improves leg strength, gross and fine motor skills, agility and flexibility, all while incorporating cardiovascular exercise.

DSC_0062Character and physiological development is another added benefit of playing the game. Tennis requires practice and commitment, and helps campers develop a strong work ethic and discipline. When new tennis players stick with the sport, even when it’s tough, they gain valuable life lessons about never quitting and persistence. Tennis is a great way to strengthen social skills, and helps campers learn to be good sports.

The ten tennis courts at Laurel South are surrounded by natural beauty, and serve as a safe, clean and professional space for tennis lovers and rookies alike. Tennis is taught by certified and experience coaches, who encourage campers to do their best and make them feel confident and excited about picking up a racquet. Most importantly, they make sure tennis stays fun for campers and that everyone feels included.

Tennis is a large part of camp culture. The benefits of tennis are endless, and campers who participate in the various tennis activities will walk off of the court with a sense of confidence and appreciation for the game.

Adventure at Laurel South

DSC_0154She wasn’t sure what was going to happen first: either her heart was going to beat out of her chest, or the butterflies that were soaring around in her stomach were going to somehow find their way out.

Nervous didn’t even begin to explain how she was feeling as she looked up the gigantic wall. She knew all she had to do was put her feet, which were now firmly planted on the ground, on one of those colorful rocks, reach up with one hand and grab another one, and she would be officially off the ground. As her sweaty palms met the first rock, her counselor spoke quietly right behind her, whispering words of encouragement and support. As she took the next step and inched her way up the rock wall, she had to remind herself to breathe. Then she heard her friends encouraging her and cheering her on. “Left foot, right hand, right foot, left hand,” she said to herself. The further she got from the ground, the louder the cheers became. She was actually doing it! She was climbing the  wall that she said she would never do from the moment she stepped foot onto camp. She wanted to look down to see the crowd of people cheering her on, but she decided she’d just focus on getting to the top.

As she stopped to take a breath, she looked around and marveled at the sheer beauty of the camp. The tall trees, the blue water, the sprawling green lawns – she had never seen camp from this viewpoint before. She knew she was halfway there because her friends’ chants told her so, and she suddenly got a boost of energy and continued her trek up the wall. Just a few more rocks to climb and she’d be at the top. She wasn’t sure when her nerves turned to excitement, but as she reached for the top of the wall, she felt a power and a confidence like never before. Her friends and counselors erupted in applause and she screamed, “I DID IT!” at the top. As she propelled down to the crowd of supporters, she walked away with a new sense of self-confidence and accomplishment.

Facebook Post 7The wall symbolized everything she was afraid of, and she conquered it. She grew closer to her friends and counselors because of their unwavering support, and she went home with a fresh perspective on obstacles and challenges. “Now, when something is hard or scary, I say to myself: I climbed the rock wall at camp. I got this.”

The Rock Wall, Ropes Course and Zip Line are all vital parts of the Adventure Program at Laurel South. These activities push campers out of their comfort zone. Whether they are climbing the wall on their own, or working as a team to maneuver through the high or low ropes courses, these adventures help campers excel with teamwork, leadership, goal setting, cooperation, positive-risk-taking and trust. These vital characteristics are taken from camp and built upon in the outside world, creating well-rounded individuals who work well in group settings, can trust others as well as themselves, and set goals and meet them. Who would have thought soaring down a zip line or flying through the air on a giant swing could be so important for a child’s emotional well-being?

IMG_6831-2Inner-strength, confidence and accomplishment aren’t only gained through climbing great heights. Overnight camping trips are another activity at Laurel South that offer a wide range of benefits. The skills campers learn teach resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, trusting their instincts and being in touch with their surroundings. The overnight camping experience helps campers develop a strong sense of teamwork, as they work together to set up tents, build fires, cook their meals and explore the woods.

As campers climb, camp and fly their way through camp, they are creating lasting memories, gaining valuable life skills, and experiencing adventure in a safe and supervised environment.

Campers will come home from camp different than from when they arrived. They will come home more confident and courageous – thanks to all of the amazing activities, like the Adventure Program, that Laurel South has to offer.

What it Means to be a Camp Counselor

DSC_0072Everyone has that one teacher, babysitter, neighbor, family friend or other adult influence who has made a lasting impression on their lives; a person they credit with shaping and molding the person they’ve become. When you become a camp counselor, you become this and so much more to hundreds of children. A camp counselor does so much in the life of a child, but not many people realize how it shapes the camp counselor as well.

Camp counselors become experts at time management. They learn how long it takes to get from one place to another, how long clean-up, setup and break down takes, and how to effectively manage their time so activities run smoothly. They learn the importance of appreciating the time and schedules of others, and campers pick up on this valuable social skill.

Camp counselors become expert communicators. They have no choice but to constantly strive to be good listeners, as kids will remember people who they feel truly listen and hear them. Counselors learn to speak confidently, while always keeping in mind the effects their words can have on those around them. They learn how to express their concerns and articulate their opinions and expectations without hurting the feelings of others. The ability to successfully communicate with individuals and large groups is a vital and life changing skill that comes naturally from being a counselor.

DSC_0009-2Problem solving, conflict management and the ability to maintain a positive attitude in occasionally stressful circumstances are all things counselors learn while spending their summers at camp. All of these skills are exactly what employers are looking for in the people they hire, and a summer (or two!) as a counselor really sets you up to be the “dream employee” who so many employers are looking for.

Being a camp counselor changes who you are, in a good way. Watching hundreds of campers learn more about themselves, create lasting memories and try new and exciting things because they know YOU believe in them will change your life. You will experience a sense of purpose as you build relationships with campers that you can’t get anywhere else. Being a camp counselor makes you a better friend, family member, student, employee and most importantly, it makes you a better YOU!

Unplugged

IMG_1925If your child is like most children, he or she tweets their way through breakfast, texts at lunch, likes, comments and Snapchats through dinner, post selfies to Instagram before bedtime and wakes up to do it all again the next day. No wonder they stay up late and want to sleep until noon…  They’re busy.

Research shows kids spend up to 7.5 hours A DAY with their eyes glued to a screen and their fingers frantically pecking away at keyboards. Kids growing up in an age of widely accessible and socially acceptable technology can get lost in the sea of text messages and status updates. Social media can be a welcoming environment for bullies, as it’s easy to become detached from empathy and consequences when you’re behind a screen. Kids do and say things they wouldn’t normally do or say when they’re plugged in. When kids only speak their mind anonymously or try to be someone they aren’t to impress others, they’re lacking opportunities to develop self-confidence and character. They may have 1,000 friends or followers on social media, but are slowly losing the ability to walk up to someone and shake their hand or settle conflict in a responsible and socially acceptable way. Social media isn’t bad in itself, it’s a great tool to keep connected and learn about the world.  But, when we let it take the place of our child’s social development, we’re doing them a huge disservice.DSC_0124-2

Which is why, at Laurel South, we’re unplugged. Campers leave their cellphones at home and enjoy a summer without texting, emailing or using social media. At first, campers may consider this unfathomable, but as they dive deep into the activities that Laurel South offers, they will reevaluate their dependence on technology. They will interact with others in a meaningful way. They will improve their written communication skills by writing letters home to loved ones and feel the excitement of receiving a handwritten note from friends and family – a feeling you just don’t get when you check your inbox. Without a phone in their pocket to tempt them, they will be able to really focus and listen to what other campers are saying. In turn, when they’re sharing a story or experience, they won’t be talking to a group of friends preoccupied with their screens.

DSC_0222Campers who arrive shy and a little reserved will leave with new found  confidence based on their accomplishments over the summer. They’ll be able to look back on the summer when they learned to swim, conquered stage fright, made new friends and discovered their love for a new activity. Campers will be able to apply that self-confidence into their lives back home. They’ll no longer need to hide behind a screen in order to communicate with their peers.

As a parent, you can find comfort in the fact that while your child is away, they’ll be learning valuable life skills that don’t involve how many words they can text a minute, or how many likes they can get on their Instagram picture. The skills they learned while they are unplugged will stay with them for a lifetime, and that’s better than being retweeted by a celebrity.

Creativity at Camp

IMG_2398A wise old man named Albert with crazy hair and a mustache once said: “Creativity is contagious; pass it on.”

At Laurel South, we’re focused on following the advice of Mr. Einstein by fostering our campers’ love of and enthusiasm for creativity. By giving campers the opportunity to express themselves through art, music, dance and theatre, we’re uncovering hidden talents and gifts that all campers have – and many have no idea they have it.  In a world where kids are trying so hard to be “cool,” they can quickly lose their sense of wonder and imagination, and their creative side can be stunted. These days, as we know, younger children trade coloring books for iPads, or choose to create an Instagram account over choreographing a dance in the living room. What a plain and boring world we’d live in if the imagination and creativity of our children is not encouraged and embraced!

IMG_3866Laurel South gives campers a wide range of activities and options to explore their inner artist. Campers can try their hand at Studio Art or Arts and Crafts, or even Culinary Arts and Music. For those who have already discovered their creative strengths, experienced staff help campers hone their skills and allow them to spend time doing things they love. For campers who feel that they’ve never been good at a particular art form, camp is a safe place to try without fear of failure or embarrassment. It’s also great for children’s self-esteem to try something new and to succeed. There are many other forms of creative expression, such as Musical Theatre and Hip-Hop, Jazz or Modern Dance. These options combine music, physical movement and artistic expression, and allow campers to conquer stage fright by performing in front of an audience. Class clowns may find a creative outlet by trying improv and comedy, while the more “techy”, behind the scenes kids will enjoy working in lighting, costuming, make-up and stage construction and design. Each of these Inter-Arts activities combines the unique, personal and intimate aspects of creative arts, while also encouraging campers to work together as a team and as a support system for each other.

IMG_1900Regardless of how each camper expresses his or her self, there is a creative outlet at camp where campers may flourish.

When a camper makes something from nothing, whether it’s a ceramic mug, a work of art or a new dance, they gain self-confidence and feel a sense of empowerment that’s hard to find anywhere else. It’s possible that the strengths and gifts they discover within themselves at camp can launch them into a hobby or even a profession they might enjoy the rest of their lives. They also learn how to appreciate the unique creativity in other people, which results in more accepting, well-rounded and open minded individuals

Discovering, understanding and expressing creativity does wonders for the growing character and sense of self in a young camper. When campers realize that it’s cool to be creative and expressive, a whole world of opportunities is open to them. We can only hope that once campers tap into their own creative side, they pass it along to their friends and peers in the outside world, causing a chain reaction of imagination, artistic expression and creativity: just as good ol’ Albert suggested.

Healthy Habits at Camp

DSC_0172When you combine the ease and affordability of fast food and the ability to record TV to be watched at anytime – the result is kids who are spending a lot of time eating junk and watching junk. Children are spending more time in front of a screen than they are playing outside. Sometimes the only body part getting a workout is their thumbs from playing video games or their index finger from pointing and clicking for hours at a time. Lack of exercise and accessibility to unhealthy foods is what has caused childhood obesity to skyrocket in the last 30 years.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of kids and teenagers were overweight in 2012. The physical risks of childhood obesity are endless: joint problems, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. All of this leaves children vulnerable to various types of cancers as they get older. Not only can early obesity lead to a lifetime of bad habits that are very hard to break, but the effects on a child’s already very fragile self-esteem and body image can be devastating. Children who are overweight and self-conscious are less likely to participate in team events or sports, try out for a new sport or activity, or be proactive in making new friends. Being overweight can be a lonely and scary time for kids and teens, and it is absolutely preventable.

DSC_0155 2At Laurel South, we take the health of each camper very seriously. We have been known to sneak exercise into the daily lives of campers by giving it a new name: FUN. We’ve also found a top secret, patented way to keep campers from eating unhealthy foods all the time: We don’t give them access to calorie filled foods throughout the day. It’s novel concept, we’re very aware.

The menu at Laurel South varies every day. There is always fruit available, and the salad bar is always an option at lunch and dinner. Homemade soups and plenty of healthy options are always available. Whether your child needs a menu that is gluten, dairy, soy, nut or shellfish free, or they have other specific food allergies, a menu of delicious options can be created for them so they can enjoy everything camp has to offer.

IMG_9886Even if campers do splurge on mac and cheese, chicken sandwiches or get creative at the pasta bar, they will easily work off all of those calories in the endless physical activities that camp has to offer. A game of flag football, an afternoon of kayaking (talk about an arm work out!), an early morning climb up the climbing wall, an impromptu basketball game vs. the neighboring cabin or an hour dancing away in Dance are just a few ways campers can keep their heart rates up while having fun with new friends. Exercise disguised as fun means campers stay active all the time! When campers are so busy running from activity to activity, they don’t have time to mindlessly munch on snacks. Plenty of water keeps campers hydrated as they tackle another day of go, go, go!

Laurel South wants the best for every camper on every level, including their physical health, which is why we are focused on instilling a positive attitude toward healthy decisions. A mindset focused on healthy food choices and staying active is an excellent value to instill in children. By encouraging children to eat right and exercise daily, they are creating habits that will benefit them as they grow, and allow them to live long and healthy lives.

Camp Jobs: Better Than an Internship

IMG_1281There are an estimated 1.2 million summer camp staff in the United States, and the numbers continue to grow steadily. Now, you might think, “Why should I pursue a camp job over an internship?” Well, working at a camp gives you the opportunity to earn more than just cash. Internships are all about gaining skills and that’s exactly what working at a camp provides. The question is, how is working at a camp better than an internship?

The biggest reason: Working at a camp helps you develop skills that will not only build your resume, but will last you a long time to come. You have an opportunity to lead from the front and solve problems, in addition to fulfilling your responsibilities with utmost sincerity. Working at camp offers real-life experiences that cannot be learned behind an office desk.

DSC_0070-2There are many benefits you can gain by working at camp:

  • You develop a better self-understanding
  • You enhance personal growth
  • You master problem-solving skills
  • You have a positive and significant influence on the lives of children
  • You expand/develop a network of peer relations.

How is Working at Camp Better than an Internship?

It Builds Character along with Your Resume

If you do not have character, your resume is pretty much useless. If you make a comparison, you will notice that most interns count the minutes until they are finally done with work. On the other hand, camp counselors and camp staff dedicate their summers. Why do they do it? They enjoy what they do! When you work at a camp, you learn to dedicate your time for things besides yourself, as you have the opportunity to deal with adults, kids and other counselors.

It’s Not Only about the Money

When you work at a camp, you not only show up every morning because you are earning and saving good money, you show up because your job involves spreading smiles and happiness. You are not confined to an undersized desk, relentlessly waiting for payday. Instead, the beautiful scenery of Maine is your office and putting smiles on campers’ faces outweighs the thought of the next paycheck.

You Make Kids Smile Instead of Customers

It’s not uncommon to come across interns pretending to be extra nice so they can make a sale. A camp job, however, revolves around campers and making them happy. Getting an authentic laugh or smile out of a camper is much more enjoyable than selling a particular product to a random customer.

IMG_1803You Learn to Be Selfless Not Selfish

While interns spend most of their time pretending to be busy or surfing the web, every minute you spend at camp is devoted to the campers. Each minute of your time is spent for others, not just for yourself. After all, have you ever seen an intern worrying about the progress of their company they work for, as much as they do for themselves?

So, if you have been considering a job at camp, why not go for it? You will have the experience of a lifetime, meet staff and campers from around the world, and gain experience that will be beneficial for years to come.

 

Watch Our Films Daily Photos & News, Camper Email Summer Camp Contact Info Winter Camp Contact Info Email Summer Camp
Close Menu
Watch Our Films Quality Maine Camping
Maine Summer Camp Locations
close

Need help? Email Us or call 800-327-3506