Camp Laurel South Blog

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.

 

Outside Play at Summer Camp

A recent phenomenon child psychologists have been focusing on is environmental recreation. What is environmental recreation? It’s as simple as getting children into the great outdoors! Playing outside improves vision, promotes social skills, increases attention span, produces vitamin D, prevents future bone damage and reduces the chance of heart related diseases, diabetes and stress. Playing outside not only improves a child’s physical abilities, but improves their mind and spirit as well.

DSC_0126It’s no secret that today’s kids don’t spend nearly as much time playing outside as their parents did growing up. There are fewer kickball games with the neighborhood kids and more video games. There are fewer kids racing home when the streetlights come on, sweaty and dirty from hours running and playing outside. As we all know, many kids today are glued to a TV or computer screen until bedtime. The benefits for kids who play outside are endless, and when your child spends their summer at camp, they will develop a love and appreciation for the great outdoors.

When campers are participating in adventure activities, they are stepping out of their comfort zone AND surrounded by the beauty of Mother Nature. When they are waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing or swimming, they are keeping their minds and bodies active and breathing in fresh air. When they are playing team sports like soccer, basketball, football and tennis, they are working up a sweat, becoming fit, and improving their vision. Studies show that kids who play outdoors have better distance vision than kids who spend a lot of time inside. With such great vision, maybe they should try archery!

IMG_3830When kids are playing outside, they are interacting with other kids, which is a great way to develop social skills. Taking turns, sharing, being part of a team and other important rules learned on a playground (or in this case, on a field, on a boat, or flying through the ropes course) are vital for developing children’s social skills, and will transfer over into how they interact with people in the outside world. Kids who play alone and inside all the time don’t get a chance to learn these important skills.

Spending time outside may also improve the time your child spends inside. By spending time outside and releasing all of that energy, kids are able to focus when it is time to come inside for structured time. Being outside also brings out the curious and investigative side of children, as they are naturally compelled to look, learn, touch and try new things they discover outside.

Kids these days are busy, and can find themselves stressed out and pulled in many different directions before they even hit high school. With the pressure of grades, sports, friends and other responsibilities, a little time outside can really help reduce stress. Time spent swinging, sliding, running, jumping, swimming, competing and discovering outside is fun and even therapeutic for kids who have a lot on their plate.

IMG_2634Research shows many kids these days are vitamin D deficient. You could run to the drugstore and pick up some vitamins, or you could encourage your kids to play outside and get it for free: from the sun! Getting enough vitamin D has been proven to prevent bone problems, diabetes and heart problems.

Because of these (and hundreds of other) reasons, summer camps have countless outdoor activities for kids to try. And, camps cater to all types of kids: a child focused on drama or dance will have just as many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the fresh air as a camper who is focused on athletics or watersports. This is the beauty of summer camp: campers growing appreciation for nature and the health benefits that go along with playing outdoors. Camp is good – actually, great – for all types of kids. The benefits are limitless!

9 Things Which Are Quintessentially Summer Camp

Summer camp is a fun and exciting experience where time simply flies by. There are – quite literally – hundreds of things to do at camp, which makes it impossible not to miss them when you are not at your summer home. Here are just a few things that will always remind you of camp on those cold winter evenings:

DSC_00881.   Sports
From intercamps to leagues and under-the-light football games, there is no better place to maximize your athletic prowess than at camp. The list of sports at the Laurel Camps is endless: Soccer, Basketball, Lacrosse, Tennis, Hockey, Fitness, Football, Golf, Gymnastics – the list goes on and on. Not to mention the outstanding fields and courts. A summer spent at camp is sure to be action-packed in any sport you desire.

2.  Beautiful Waterfronts
Seeing a Mastercraft ski boat or a Hobie Cat is sure to remind you of your unforgettable summers at camp. From waterskiing to sailing to bumper tubing and wake-surfing, camp has plenty of water-sports to fill your day. Echo Lake at Camp Laurel and Crescent Lake at Laurel South are two of the most magnificent lakes in the northeast. Crystal-clear, sparkling and waiting for you!

3. Arts & Crafts
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), arts and crafts is among the five most popular activities at summer camp, and why wouldn’t it be? Kids simply love spending a part of their day in a place filled with glitter, paint, scissors, beads, and other craft items. With arts and crafts, the possibilities are endless.

4. Campfires
A campfire is a mainstay at every camp. The activities, songs and traditions differ from camp to camp. However, one thing that remains consistent is the sacred relevance the campfire holds. The fire symbolizes camp life, and the burning wood serves as a reminder of picturesque settings in the Maine woods.

5.  Camp Songs
What better place to sing, cheer and shout than camp. We love singing at camp! Whether in the cabin, on the stage or around a campfire, camp songs are a big part of summer life. The slightest reminder of a camp lyric or tune will surely have you reminiscing about your summers spent in Maine.

DSC_0013-26.    S’mores
A summer isn’t complete without s’mores. And besides, it’s hard to resist the pleasure of melted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. Just one bite is enough to bring instant memories of camp.

7.    Cabins
You might think: ”What’s so special about a cabin?’” Well, they are much more than places where counselors and campers sleep. It’s where everyone becomes a family, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.

8.    Bells
Bells guide campers through their day at camp. Wake up, activity change, meals and evening programs – we’d know that sound anywhere! No annoying PA system announcements here. It’s back to nature and the call of the wild… Just listen to the loons on the lake, there’s nothing better!

9.    Crazy Wardrobe Preferences
Camp is perhaps the only place where you will get complemented for wearing bright colors, body paint, hats, wigs and other funny clothing. Funny isn’t it? But, it’s an experience that will always bring back good memories.

Unique Experiences at Camp Laurel South

_U2C2290When your child heads back to school after a summer at Camp Laurel South, they will hear a lot of their classmates talking about what they did over the summer:

“I went swimming in my pool. Every day.”

“I played baseball with my friends.”

“I visited my Grandma in Oklahoma.”

But when your child stands up to share his or her experience, it might sound something like:

“I don’t even know where to start! I tried archery and gymnastics, I learned to bake INCREDIBLE French pastries, I swam a lot, but I also went water skiing and sailing! I went camping and learned important outdoor skills. I was in a musical. I rode my first horse. I even went down a zipline!”

IMG_5395The great thing about Camp Laurel South is that it’s not a place to send your kids where they’ll do the same ol’ thing they’ve always done. Once they step foot onto camp, they’ll be surrounded by new activities. A camper may discover their love for archery or sailing, but would have never had the opportunity to try it back home.

At camp, your child has a hands-on opportunity to learn outdoor skills such as navigating a hiking trail, learning to make a fire, cruising through an outdoor fitness trail and getting pro-level instruction in tennis, lacrosse or basketball. These are things they would rarely have the chance to learn outside of a summer spent at camp. These skills prepare campers with a sense of confidence and self–sufficiency that can be carried over into many other aspects of their lives.

The lessons campers learn while trying out new activities at camp are invaluable. Learning to work together as a team, whether in flag football or during a mountaineering adventure, is an essential character trait built upon at summer camp. Campers learn to trust themselves and step out of their comfort zone, while also learning to trust their peers and building lifelong friendships in the process.

DSC_0154Campers can explore their creative side, and try new artistic outlets not found in their typical English class or art elective. Cartooning, technical lighting, ceramics, music production, jazz dance and cooking are just a few activities geared toward right-brained campers. When was the last time your child had the opportunity to really get their hands dirty and create a piece of ceramic art? Or learn first-hand what beautiful art can be created out of a piece of scrap metal? At summer camp, giving each camper a once in a lifetime experience is our goal, and we strive to make sure there are unique opportunities for everyone to take part in.

Your child could go back to school with thrilling adventures of playing Bingo with grandma in Oklahoma or delight the class with play-by-plays of their neighborhood baseball games. Or they could teach their class a thing or two about archery, French pastries, sailing, outdoor skills, jazz dance, flag football, ceramics and what is involved in training for a triathlon, just to summarize their first couple weeks at camp.

Give your child the gift of brand new experiences by sending them to a camp where they can do it all. It’ll be a life changing experience for the both of you.

 

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