Camp Laurel South Blog

Summer Camp and Screen Time

“Screen time” is a common buzzword. It describes the time that we spend looking at and using electronic screens – phones, tablets, computers, televisions, etc. With the steady rise in screen time usage, there has been extensive research on how this is affecting our children.

IMG_3564A recent study published by UCLA, “In our Digital World, are Children Losing the Ability to Read Emotions?” outlines how our kids are falling behind in their social skills due to extended screen time. The study used two groups of middle school students and tested their ability to read other boys’ and girls’ emotions. One group remained in their typical habitat, engaging in screen time as desired, while the other group went to a summer camp where electronics were not allowed. The difference in results were significant, with those at camp being able to read others’ emotions almost 33% more effectively after only five days away from screens. UCLA professor Yalda Uhls says the results are clear: “If you’re not practicing face-to-face communication, you could be losing important social skills. We are social creatures. We need device-free time.”

Significant results were achieved in a five-day period; imagine the boost in social skills children achieve through weeks at summer camp with hundreds of their peers!

Facebook Post 7A child’s time at camp allows them to grow in so many ways, but one way that’s increasingly important is disconnecting and engaging in social settings. Campers have face-to-face interaction with their peers around-the-clock for weeks at a time.

When campers return home from the summer, parents know their children will rave about their experience, but one thing they may not expect is how much more engaging they are. Camp teaches children how to successfully navigate social interactions.

Of course, a summer in Maine  is memorable, but what may be even more impactful is a camper’s increased social growth without electronic devices by their side.

What Did You Do This Past Summer?

i-5RZLrrf-SThat’s always the question when everyone starts school: What did you do this summer? And it’s always hard to answer with a simple: “I went to camp,” because camp means so many things to so many people.

Lots of kids go to camp. In fact, more than 10 million children across the country go to some kind of camp during the summer. It could be scout camp for a week; day camp for two weeks; baseball camp for a month; or even chess camp at the local elementary school. We think spending the summer at camp is the very best way to spend the summer for any child. It teaches children how to spread their wings, navigate differences, make good choices and grow into healthy and independent young adults.i-vVDwDfc-X2

So, when campers are asked what did you do this past summer, they really can say: “Everything.”

They made friends and made their bed. They swam in a lake and swam in a kiddie pool of jello (If they were in Chaos!) They got up on waterskis and sang songs. They learned how to live in a cabin with five, eight or even 12 other campers…and they learned to share.

They hung out around a campfire and made s’mores. They probably played in some kind of intercamp, tournament or performed on stage in front of the camp. They cheered and ran their hearts out during Spirit Days. And they even found time to write a letter — with an actual pen and paper — to their parents, grandparents or friends at home.i-WPwrGhX-M

As we fall back into soccer practice, dance class, music lessons, fantasy football, the World Series and the fall holiday season… campers always have much to say about what they did last summer: Camp. It’s a constant. It happens every year. You can almost touch, smell and feel the great memories.

We always tell our campers to hold tight to the memories of camp in Maine. It’s truly the best place in the world to go to camp. And to never forget the clear blue skies during the day, the loons at dusk and the crisp, starry nights.

We can’t wait to see everyone again in 10 short months on the shores of Crescent Lake.

An Amazing Summer

DSC_0025-2-X2We had an amazing summer!  The campers and staff built friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime.  We only wish it didn’t go by so fast.

While we’re sad to see the season come to an end, we’re already counting the days until the 2015 summer arrives!

Thank you to the most incredible staff and awesome campers anywhere. Thank you, also, to our camp families for trusting us with their terrific children.

DSC_0076-2-MWe will keep you updated throughout the year about our many new projects and program ideas.  Until then, have a great school year and keep your Laurel South memories alive.  Before you know it, we’ll be reunited on the shores of Crescent Lake.

Ending on a High Note

i-pjngBHH-MYesterday was our final “S” Day of the season, and Funtown USA certainly lived up to its name!  The entire camp enjoyed the rides, the games, the food, and, of course, time spent creating memories with friends.  The 4th Annual Moose Bowl more than lived up to the hype, with the Rattle Snakes edging out the Black Bears in a well-played, hard fought contest.  Today was our awesome Laurel South 5K Color Run, and this afternoon will be our first ever Crescent Lake Swim Challenge. i-QVZLSdQ-L

The next two days are our final Program Days of the session, filled with shows and exhibitions to demonstrate skills learned in just a few short weeks.

Just because we are close to the end does not, for a moment, mean the fun is over.  After our younger campers dazzled us with their performance of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Wednesday, tonight is our older campers turn in the spotlight with their performance of Thoroughly  Modern Millie.  Tomorrow night is our Lobster, Steak and vegetarian Lasagna Final Banquet.

We may be nearing the end of the session, but the fun continues in Casco, Maine!

Bringing Away Life Skills

LS Life Skills 4For most campers, when the summer of 2014 draws to a close, there is always next summer to which they can look forward. For the oldest campers, however, farewell this summer means farewell forever to their years as campers. Even though a significant number of former campers choose to return to summer camp as staff members later, the experiences they gained as campers are unique to those years. Although it is difficult to say goodbye at the conclusion of their final summer, it is also a time when older campers reflect upon their camp years and truly take inventory of what camp has meant to them and will continue to mean as they proceed in life.

Older campers come away from camp having attained life skills that give them a distinct advantageLS Skillsas they move through their high school years and college becomes a focus. There is, for instance, respect for tradition. College campuses, like resident camps, are built on traditions that help define them.  Former campers understand the importance of their role in these traditions by creating experiences that are both memorable and worthwhile.

Former campers know how to show spirit and to live in the moment as well. At camp, campers are sensitive to the fact that their time at camp each summer is limited and they embrace each minute. Having already learned to comprehend that their camp years are limited to a specific timeline in their lives, former campers arrive on college campuses already understanding that their college years are much the same.

LS Life Skills 2There is also an emphasis on total involvement at camp. Summer camp is about creating an environment in which campers feel encouraged to try new things and to push their level of comfort each summer. In the safety of a setting that emphasizes inclusion, campers learn to understand that diversity is key to success. It takes many types of people and talents coming together to make camp the beloved place that it is in the hearts of the campers. With such an understanding, campers tend to get to know and befriend individuals who they might not otherwise have taken the time to get to know in a setting that does not facilitate similar ideals.  Having been submerged in such a culture for several summers, campers are well equipped for the transition from home to college life after several summers at camp. They also tend to be somewhat open- minded when it comes to new things and experiences.

Older campers also come away from camp as leaders. Whether they have led fellow campers in an activity or helped mentor and lead younger campers in their later camp years, leadership is another quality that is rigorously promoted and embraced at sleepaway camp.

Campers also learn everyday life skills at sleepaway camp as they spend several weeks away fromLS Life Skills 3home each summer and make decisions for themselves. Making healthy eating decisions, for instance, is an important skill that children learn at camp. Campers also learn how to juggle multiple commitments at once, such as having a role in a camp show while simultaneously playing on a sports team. They co-habitate daily with several other campers and learn how to maximize their living space.

Clearly, those campers who will say goodbye to camp at the conclusion of the summer are bringing away far more than fun memories of a place where they spent their childhood summers. They’re bringing away experiences that translate into life far beyond camp.

 

The Fun Never Ends!

i-sMcgKX3-M[3]We may be heading down the home stretch, but there’s still a ton of fun left to be had in the 2014 summer!  Tonight is our 4th Annual Moose Bowl.  The Rangeley men will battle it out on the field, displaying athletic prowess along with great Laurel South sportsmanship.  The entire camp will be involved:  from the tailgate cookout dinner to the campers performing the Star Spangled Banner (with campers’ rockets launched at the conclusion) to the t-shirt slingshots and halftime dance show.  This event truly has become one of Laurel South’s favorite traditions.

i-QqbM39S-X2[3]Tomorrow night will be our presentation of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with Thoroughly Modern Millie taking the stage on Friday.  Sandwiched in between will be our annual excursion to Funtown USA.

We may have just a few days left, but we’re going to have as much fun as we can.  The fun never ends at Laurel South!

How Quickly a Session Can Fly

i-JZjNqfW-M It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming everyone back to our summer home, and yet here we are, gearing up for the final week and a half of the second session.  It’s already been an unbelievable season.  Intercamp games and tournaments are still in full swing.  We even had our first Paddle Board Intercamp today!  It was very cool!  Spirit Days was another huge success.  In the end, the winner was…Laurel South!  The debut of the Culinary Center has been amazing!

i-VSdgW8Q-MWe will be jam-packed with even more incredible events coming up:  Tomorrow’s Carnival and Camper Variety Show, two Theater productions (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Thouroughly Modern Millie), the 4th Annual Moose Bowl, Funtown, Final Social, Banquet, Closing Ceremonies…the list goes on.  The action never ends at Laurel South!!!

5 Minutes at Camp

StopwatchWe focus a lot on how much happens at camp over the course of the summer, but the amount of activity that takes place in just 5 minutes on any given day is mind blowing to anyone who is not familiar with camp. Five minutes at summer camp is like a symphony: many individual components come together at the same time to create a single, enjoyable experience. In addition, each component is unique, yet critical, to the overall piece. In just five minutes at camp…

A soccer team may score a goal to win a championship game while play rehearsal takes place on the stage and, at the waterfront, swim instruction is happening. In arts & crafts, campers are busy putting the finishing touches on projects as a batter on the softball team steps onto first base and a volleyball is spiked over the net. A group of campers is learning how to sail on the lake as a group of paddle boarders make their way across the water. A camper does her first giant swing on the parallel bars in gymnastics just as another reaches the top of the climbing wall while yet another makes his way across the high ropes course. It’s a 3 on 3 tournament on the basketball courts and a group of campers are learning how to improve their tennis serve just as a camper finds the back of the net at lacrosse. A team captain just called a time out at roller hockey and the finishing touches are being put onto some hip hop choreography in dance. A group of mountain bikers pass a group of runners and two teams are facing off in flag football. It’s the bottom of the 9th on the baseball field and the game is tied while the final two players in an intense game of gaga face off as their fellow campers cheer them on. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies wafts from the cooking studios and campers in photography take nature shots as a small group of campers fishes nearby.

And it’s not just the action that takes place in any given five minutes at camp that creates the Conductorrhythm of summer, it’s the interaction. As all of these activities are happening, campers and staff members are talking, laughing, learning and cheering. In the same five minutes at camp, friendships are formed and new skills learned. Traditions begin and are repeated. Campers try something new for the first time as well as accomplish them for the first time after a summer of trying. In five minutes at camp, campers gain life skills by becoming more confident and more self-reliant.   In just five minutes at camp, memories are made. Like a conductor, memories bring all of those activities together to create the image of summer camp that campers replay for a lifetime.

 

Trips and Spirit Days

i-9j6VSH2-X2[1]What an amazing “S” Day we had yesterday!  The majority of camp traveled to Canobie Lake Park.  We had an awesome time!  The rides, the games, the food and, most importantly, the time spent with our cabinmates and counselors couldn’t be beat.  Meanwhile, our incredible group of CIT’s had a Magical Mystery Bus Tour that took them to exciting destinations such as Hacker’s Hill, Quaker Ridge, Old Orchard Beach and Old Port, Portland.  They had a wonderful time seeing the beauty of Maine while reminiscing about all the memories created over their lengthy camp careers!

When we went to breakfast on Tuesday morning, DSC_0123no one had any idea that Spirit Days would be breaking.  Our CIT’s decided that the breakfast break would stun everyone, and boy were they right!  For the next two days, the Blue Space Rangers and Green Cowboys will square off in the friendliest of competition.  The ball fields, waterfront and all areas in between will be filled with Laurel South Spirit and Pride.  At the end of the two day contest, we will be reunited as one, because, as the cheer goes, “Blue and Green are one big team!”  At the conclusion of our Closing Ceremonies, we will have the most amazing fireworks display in all of Maine!!  What an awesome way to end Spirit Days!

The Close of Another Best Summer Ever

dsc_0001-2It seems that just yesterday the blog subject at hand was the anticipation of the campers’ arrival at camp. As usual, though, we blinked and now it’s August. Another summer is coming to a close over the next couple of weeks. This is the time of year when campers and staff alike begin reflecting over their summer. They mentally check off their bucket lists for this summer and already begin composing new ones for next summer. They begin making those final efforts to do those camp things they love most at least one more time. They take stock of those special moments—the ones that will forever define the summer of 2014. At the end of the day, there are always a million reasons why this summer was better than any other. Something was always bigger or better or even brand new. Your circle of friends has always grown just a little bit larger. You finally had the chance to go on that camp trip or participate in that camp activity to which you’ve been looking forward to for years. Even though the summer never seems long enough, it’s always mind-blowing to realize just how much was accomplished in such a short span of time. Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of activities that take place at sleepaway camp that makes every summer seem like the best summer ever.

When one weighs the summer as a whole, the good memories are prevalent and the word dsc_0002-3“amazing” comes to mind far more than the words “didn’t love it.” Upon considering everything that you accomplished, it’s impossible to be disappointed, even if you can’t check all your pre-summer goals off your list. At camp, especially at the end of the summer, it’s much easier to focus on everything you’ve done more than everything you’ve not.. The feeling of accomplishment is inevitably satisfying in a way that reminds you just why you come to camp anyway. There’s no other place in the world where you have the opportunity to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. Sure, you also come to relax, enjoy the rural setting, and spend time with your camp friends. But you also come with an agenda—specifically, a camp agenda of things that cannot be accomplished anywhere – or with anyone – else. These lists are often lengthy and filled with many more aspirations than can reasonably be achieved during a single summer. But the comforting thought that almost everyone brings home from camp is that there’s always next summer…and the promise of another best summer ever.

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