Camp Laurel South Blog

Why Kids Need Camp Now More Than Ever

Take a moment and look around. Whether it’s at a restaurant, the movies, a park, or in your own home, there is one constant – a mobile device. Phones, iPads, and other forms of technology have taken over daily life. It has become impossible to have a simple meal with family or friends without the distraction of technology.

Before the influx of technology, children asked for hands-on presents that fostered creativity and adventure for holidays and birthdays. Remember the excitement when you received your first bicycle? Today, children receive iPhone Xs for their birthdays. While technology has a lot to offer individuals, it can have a negative impact on youth development. Creative impulses and a sense of adventure are diminished as children plug in their headphones and sit inside for hours at a time exploring their latest technology.

This is why kids need camp more than ever. Camp offers children a four- week experience they will never forget. In one summer, concrete memories are made and lifelong skills acquired. Time spent outside in the fresh air with friends teaches children to appreciate the outdoors and the joy of unplugging.

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace. Soon, our world will be filled with artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. The need to be independent will be diminished but the inherit independence that camp teaches will always be present.

Building Character

The four weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It’s an opportunity to build character and boost confidence. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. In today’s world, the pressure to succeed at all costs seems to have become the focus, more so than the ideals that promote kindness, empathy, moral compass and self-assuredness.

At camp, children are guided to solve conflict through understanding and compromise. They learn that differences of opinion can be discussed without resentment or anger. Campers learn to talk about their feelings and truly understand the feelings of others. We tell our campers that not everyone will be your best friend, yet we treat everyone with kindness and respect. These are values that will serve them well throughout their school years, in the workplace and in their communities.

At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended), fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they all are, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. We are intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.

Campers return home with more friends, improved skill-sets and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves camp with stronger character, and that we can instill basic morals and ideals that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families each summer.

The Camp Community

Going to a sleepaway camp has a profound impact on campers and counselors alike. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you’ll never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, members of the camp community will tell you that camp has changed their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationships. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which fosters genuine connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your cabinmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed. The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from across the United States and the globe. The bonds made at camp carry over and solidify throughout the year as counselors travel to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it’s the cheers, the campfires, or the athletic competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished. Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills. On the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.

Keeping Active After Camp

Unless you live on 100+ acres of grassy fields, on a lake complete with tennis courts, an equestrian center and hundreds of your closest friends, then it may be hard to stay as busy and active at home as you do when you’re at camp. When you spend your summer at camp, you’re surrounded by nature; you have access to almost every sport and activity you could imagine, and; it’s easy to spend your days — literally — running from one adventure to the next.

When it’s time to come home from camp, some campers find it easy to fall back into more laid-back routines, consisting of computer time, TV time and video games. However, it’s easy to take some of the things you learned at camp and apply them to your normal routine at home. You may not live on a lake, but you can still get outside and enjoy the sunshine. You may not have access to a soccer  field, but you can still get outside with friends and kick the ball around. You can still go for a run, start a pick up game of baseball with other kids in the neighborhood, or put together a dance routine to impress your family after dinner. There are many ways to stay active while you’re at home, and you don’t need 100+ acres or counselors to help you do it.

Staying active during the fall and winter months is very important to your overall health. When you feel good physically, other aspects of your life seem to follow. Your confidence improves, which helps you build healthy and strong relationships. Exercise has been scientifically proven to release hormones that help you focus in school, help you sleep well, and help promote strong bones and muscles. It’s great for your heart, and the endorphins released when you exercise gives you an overall sense of happiness.

Many campers are introduced to a sport while at camp, and then choose to continue pursuing that sport throughout the school year. If you loved soccer at camp, why not try out for the school team? If you really loved gymnastics at camp, why not look into joining the competitive after-school team? By staying active during the school year, you give yourself months of practice before returning to the sport at camp over the summer. You will be amazed at the progress you can make from one summer to the next.

Staying active at home can help improve all areas of your life. Being active makes you happier and healthier, and is something all campers can do to boost their confidence in the months when they aren’t at camp.

What I Learned from a Summer at Camp

My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.

Settling in to the “Real World”

As we settle into the “real world,” we can’t help but reflect on the incredible memories made this summer. We will keep these memories close to our heart.

While we will cherish the summer of 2017, we look forward to the year ahead. With Labor Day around the corner, we hope you’re all settling in to your routine at home and gearing up for the academic year.

Study hard, stay active and be kinder than necessary… only 294 days ’til First Session and 322 Days ’til Second Session!

Another Amazing Summer

Another amazing summer has come and gone, and all we can do is wonder where the time went. We want to thank our amazing staff, wonderful camp families and, of course, the greatest campers anywhere for making the 2017 summer such a memorable one. We’ll miss you so much and hope to see you again soon. Now, let the countdown to the 2018 summer begin!!!

Oh what a beautiful day in the state of Maine!

All In Until the Very End

Where did the summer go? Can we really be down to just two precious program days before it’s time to pack up and bid farewell to all of our friends who have become more like family? Our summer theme this year was to be “all in”, and our campers and staff have truly done their part!

Tuesday night, we witnessed another Moose Bowl for the ages, as the Rattle Snakes scored a late touchdown to edge out the Black Bears in a game of fantastic plays and even better sportsmanship! On Wednesday night, we were treated to our younger campers incredible performance of “Annie”.  The talent on the stage was just amazing! Thursday we all headed to Canobie Lake Park for a day of rides, games, fun, friendship and food.

Tonight our older campers take to the stage for their rendition of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. Tomorrow night is our Final Banquet, and we’ll dine on lobster, steak or vegetarian lasagna! After packing on Sunday, we’ll have our Closing Ceremonies, when the Spirit of Fun and Friendship will take the flame and keep it safe until we are all reunited on the shores of Crescent Lake next summer.

And while we’re sad to see another awesome summer come to a close, we’re excited the countdown to the 2018 Laurel South summer will begin.

Down The Stretch We Come

How quickly a camp session can fly by! It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming everybody for the start of the summer, and yet, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we are down to our final week.

We’ve had so many wonderful experiences so far. The campers and staff had an amazing time at the Laurel South Carnival.The weather threatened to interfere with our afternoon Carnival, so we just changed it to the morning, and everyone had a blast!!! From the rides to the games, the food to the dunk tank, we all had a great time. Our 8th graders are on their trip to North Conway, and our 6th Grade girls are camping out for the night! Intercamp games and tournaments are still in full gear and program areas are building toward their culminating activities.

And while a week seems like a short period of time, we have so much to look forward to: Monday night is our Council Fire; Tuesday Night is the 7th Annual Moose Bowl; Wednesday and Friday are our theater shows (Annie and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); Thursday is our final “S” Day trip to Canobie Lake. Of course, we have our Final Banquet and Closing Ceremonies coming up, as well.

While the session seems to fly by, the friendships we’ve forged and the memories we’ve made will last us the entire year…until we can all return again!

Another Spirited Spirit Days!!!

Tuesday morning started out like any other “A” Day.  We woke up excited for another day of programming, ate a delicious breakfast and headed back to cabins for clean-up. Suddenly the bell rang and rang and rang and rang. Oh, we were having our annual fire drill. Everyone headed to the Downeast Field, lined up by cabins. As Roger made his check that all were accounted for, each cabin had a brief skit to announce their presence. The very last cabin, Cedars, our CIT girls read a poem which ended with the announcement that Spirit Days 2017 was upon us. They were joined by the CIT boys, and everyone was ready for Spirit Days to commence!

For the next 2 days, the Green Army and Blue Navy took to the fields, displaying teamwork, effort and sportsmanship that makes us so proud. What transpired was the friendliest of competitions with everyone cheering for their own team, as well as the other, enjoying the contest, but never taking it too far. The closing ceremony was filled with awesome cheers, incredible plaques designed and made by the campers and unbelievable songs. In the end, when Adam read the final score, the winner was…Laurel South, because after 2 days we were reunited as one big team with memories that will last a lifetime!

Today, our Fly Fishing enthusiasts are enjoying a great clinic from an Orvis Fishing Guide. In the two years we’ve held these clinics, the number of Fly Fishing campers has increased, and their skill set is through the roof!!!  On Sunday, our 6th Grade Girls will depart for their camping trip to Mount Blue, while our 8thGraders will depart for their trip to North Conway!

We may be closing in on our final week, but we still have a ton to look forward to: Two Theater Shows, Moose Bowl, Final Banquet…the list goes on! We’ll fill every moment we have together with friends and memories that just can’t be beat!!!

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