Camp Laurel South Blog

Great Outdoors…Great Skills

I’ve always been surprised by the wide range of lessons that campers take away from the outdoor adventure activities at camp. Some campers benefit most from building a sense of self-reliance and resourcefulness. Others particularly enjoy the non-competitive aspects of the activities, which combine the adrenaline of sports with the positivity of teamwork. Regardless of interests, all campers benefit from outdoor education. Nature, like adventure, is universally meaningful — and universally fun.

Personal DevelopmentLS1

A camper must learn to trust themselves before they learn to trust others, and outdoor skill-building is one of the greatest ways to build self-confidence. Survival skills like fire-starting and shelter-building teach campers that strength comes from within. Not to mention, knowing how to pitch a tent and read a map teaches campers how to problem solve and advocate for themselves.

Teamwork vs. Competition

Teamwork is one of the core values at camp, and adventures in the great outdoors provide challenges that build trust and communication skills. Outdoor adventure requires a high level of teamwork, even though the objective isn’t “beating” another team. There are no winners and losers when the goal is to make a campfire or build a cool shelter, instead campers work together for the benefit of all. Campers learn to work together to conquer a challenge.

LS2Finding our Place in the World

When it comes to outdoor adventure at camp, the “outdoor” side is equally as important as the “adventure” side. Adventure is an important component, but the raw experience of being in nature is what makes seemingly simple activities like hiking and camping so memorable. Particularly for campers coming from the city, a reminder of how small we are in the grand scheme of things can be immeasurably valuable. The great outdoors are important for everyone. After all, the beautiful Maine wilderness and crisp air are a huge part of what makes Camp Laurel such a special place.

Can-do Attitude

Regardless of the aspect of outdoor adventure that captures a camper’s imagination most, they are guaranteed to walk away with a new sense of empowerment. We live in a fast-paced world and the outdoor experiences at camp prepare campers to tackle the world with creativity, determination and humility. Just get outside and try it!

Living in the moment at Camp Laurel South: A Counselors Perspective.


It was midway through the third week of summer camp when I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.

…Or what week it was.

You know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy in months.

After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?IMG_6403

Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.

After a long school year of classes, homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.

“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.

…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — keeping my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.

Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. It’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.

So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!

However, this isIMG_0504n’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the activity you’re rushing to that’s so much fun!

There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!

Honestly, the only date any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!

Camp Changed My Kid

IMG_9280I was nervous and excited to send my son Connor to camp this year. Connor’s best friend attended camp the summer before and could not stop raving about it. So after plenty of research and discussions, we decided to let Connor spend the summer away. I won’t lie, my “mommy heart” broke a little when he practically jumped out of the car to get on the plane and didn’t look back, but I was pretty sure we were making the right decision. In August, when he got home, I was 100% sure we made the right decision. The happy, smiley kid who jumped into our backseat was…different.

I couldn’t pin point many differences right away, except for the excitement in his eyes and voice when he talked about all of his new friends and cracked himself up remembering inside jokes and hilarious conversations with his new buddies. One of the main things I noticed when we got home was how helpful he had become. Without me asking, he would make his bed, take his plates to the sink, offer to bring in the groceries or even simply ask if he could get us anything from the kitchen since he was going that way. I noticed a new sense of thoughtfulness when he came back. Not that he was heartless before by any means, but I definitely noticed a change in his willingness to help others and think of others before himself. As the days passed, my heart exploded with joy to see him excited to text, chat and FaceTime with his new friends. He went to camp a little reserved, and came back social and confident. I loved seeing him interact with his peers, I loved seeing how he was truly listening to what others had to say, and how he felt confident contributing to the conversation.IMG_9987

Just today, he told me he was going to try out for soccer at school, a sport he had never played before camp. He said he was encouraged to try it at camp and played it almost every day while he was there. As a mom, I am blown away at what positive changes have come from sending my son to camp. I knew he would make friends, try a new activity or two and learn to live both independently and with a group, but I had no idea about the social skills, character development, relational growth and boost in confidence that spending a few weeks away could create.

Camp changed my son for the better, and we are both looking forward to the growth and changes that will happen next summer at camp!

Teachers Love Having Campers as Students

IMG_2455 When we asked a teacher in Florida what his ideal student looks like, he said: “Someone who is respectful, creative and focused.” When we asked a teacher in New Jersey, she said  “Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who wants to learn and who tries their hardest,” And when we asked a teacher from Pennsylvania, she said: “Someone who has great time management skills, is a leader and is responsible.” What we learned from talking to these teachers is that all across the country, teachers enjoy having responsible, respectful and creative students in their classrooms. And what do you know… Camps help students develop all of these skills and so much more. It’s our theory that when teachers ask students what they did over the summer, they’re not just asking because it’s the standard “welcome back to school question,” but because they are secretly trying to decipher which students spent their summer growing, learning and improving. The bottom line: Teachers love students who spend their summers at camp.

Spending the summer at camp turns followers into leaders, shyness into confidence and laziness into responsibility. Camp teaches children how to work well with others, how to think critically and how to solve problems. It allows students to try new things, ask questions and be vulnerable in order to improve themselves. It teaches time management, organization and respect for peers and authority. The list goes on and on. Every day, campers are learning valuable life skills that easily transfer over to their daily lives. They think they’re just playing football with friends, but at the same time they are learning how to communicate with others, how to be a good sport and the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. When they make real connections with people they’d usually never talk to, they are learning to ignore stereotypes and appreciate diversity. Spending the summer at camp is day-after-day of life lessons, disguised as swimming, playing, singing, dancing, biking, hiking and exploring.

IMG_2851Teachers look for leaders in the classroom, someone who can follow instructions and encourage their peers to do the same. It is with these students that teacher form trusting relationships, which can work in the students benefit all year long. These leaders are built at camp, and their skills aren’t just confined to camp or the school campus, they become leaders in every aspect of their life.

Parents can be confident that their child will leave camp a better version of themselves. These students, who enter the new school year with a strong sense of identity, work ethic and high self-esteem, will be an important contributor to their classrooms.

If you were to ask a teacher what they REALLY wanted in an ideal student, most of them would say “Anyone who spent their summer at camp!”

The Blink of An Eye

OU2C0043As kids grow into teens, as teens grow into adults and as adults grow older, a funny thing happens: time goes by faster and faster. In the blink of an eye, you can think about your 10th birthday party, your first day at school, high school, college, graduation, your wedding, having children, even the birth of your grandkids. The circle of life. Camp, perhaps, is one place that mirrors the circle of life with even greater speed. But while the days and nights fly by, the memories linger and last forever.

Who can’t remember stepping off the plane or bus into your camp director’s waiting arms? Meeting your counselor for the first time? Feeling the warmth of security and the familiarity of a hug, high five or a fist-bump. Then you meet your cabinmates, Campus Leaders and more friends in your age group. Your camp circle grows, your friends increase, you branch out and try new things, meet new people, eat new foods. You experiment.

_MG_5687Then there’s the routine we settle into. The A and B Days. The special events and S Day Trips. Overnight Camping Trips, Intercamps and Theatre Shows. Camp Brother and Sister activities. Quest and Spirit Days.

Before you know it, we’re at the Final Ceremony. And just like that, in the blink of an eye — it’s over.  But there’s one thing that never leaves us: our memories.

While camp comes and goes by so fast — we always have the stories, shared experiences and dreams of camp forever. Our memories. They’ll always be with us and we will cherish them forever.

The End of Another Amazing Summer

IMG_5645Another incredible summer has come and gone. We’re so thankful for our dedicated staff and the world’s most amazing campers. We can’t wait to see you back in Casco next summer. Thank you to our two amazing CIT groups. Each set a wonderful example for the younger campers and personified the Laurel South Spirit. You will all be missed and we can’t wait to see many of you back on Crescent Lake as staff members in the near future. Finally, thank you to all of our amazing families who have chosen to entrust us with their children for four weeks. We understand the tremendous leap of faith you have taken, and we promise you that is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

While we miss our campers and staff, at Laurel South we always choose our attitudes. Rather than being sad that the summer is over, we are excited to begin the countdown to the 2016 summer! See you in June!!

Down the Stretch They Come!!

LS Blog Photo 1 How quickly a summer can fly. It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming the Laurel South Family back to our summer home. In the blink of an eye, we’re beginning to celebrate the summer with amazing culminating activities.

Our camper production of The Wizard of Oz was truly epic! The younger campers worked so hard, and the entire audience was amazed at the incredible display of talent. Thursday was the final “S” Day as the camp took to Funtown USA for a wild day of rides, games, music, food and, of course, FUN!

LS Bog Photo 2Last night was our Final Banquet. We dined on Steak, Lobster and Vegetarian Lasagna while reflecting on the experiences we just shared. After the banquet, we made our way to the Theater for the production of The Sound of Music. It was outstanding!! The campers in both shows dedicated themselves to their craft and the final product was simply incredible.

Tonight the Rattle Snakes and Black Bears take to the gridiron in our annual Moose Bowl! Everyone is looking forward to it!

There may be a precious few days left, but the action never stops in Casco!!!

One More Week of Fun!!!

UnknownOur overnight trips concluded this week as the 6th Grade Girls returned from their Maine Camping Trip and the 8th Graders returned from their awesome trip to North Conway!

We’re down to the last week, but there’s plenty of action to be had:

We’re looking forward to the 5th Annual Moose Bowl, as the Black Bears and Rattle Snakes take to the gridiron to show their talent, athleticism, hard work and (most importantly) great sportsmanship.  The teams have been practicing all session for the big game.  The festivities include so much more, including a Tailgate Cookout Dinner, campers leading us in the National Anthem, rockets will be launched by campers at the end of the song and all our dance class members have worked hard to put on an intricate Half Time Show. S’mores will be eaten, t-shirts will be launched, dance parties will form and everyone will have a blast!!Unknown-1

Also on the horizon are our two Theater Shows: The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. We cant wait for the curtain to go up!

We’re also looking forward to  our final “S” Day trip to Funtown USA. And of course, all of our program areas are gearing up for their culminating activities.

One more week of fun in beautiful Casco, Maine!!!

Spirit Days 2015!

LS BlogPhoto1 It started out as any ordinary morning. Campers and counselors strolled to the Dining Hall for breakfast and left ready for another exciting day of activities. Clean-Up went as scheduled, and the campers and staff began to make their way to Morning Cove…never suspecting what was about to happen. Suddenly, the horns blared and the cheers rang out from all over camp. Our CITs had broken Spirit Days!!! For the next 2 days, the Blue Cavemen and Green Dinosaurs poured their hearts out on the fields, cheered loudly for each other, showed tremendous sportsmanship and exhibited Laurel South Spirit to the fullest! We’re so proud of our awesome CITs who take over the days and serve as wonderful role models to our younger campers. At the end of the night, the scores were tallied and the winner was — all of us, because at the end of it all, the score doesn’t matter. The real winner of any Spirit Days is Laurel South!

LS BlogPhoto2Today we’re back into our “B” Day schedule. Our sailors have already left to compete in the Maine Lakes Cup. Our girls are set to compete against our neighbor camps in Volleyball and Soccer, while our boys will play Lacrosse. We even have an Archery Intercamp today! At Rest Hour, our Three-Year Club Celebration will commence in the Downeast Lodge.

Tomorrow is Carnival Day! After our “S” Day breakfast and Elective Morning, we will all meet on the Downeast Field for an unbelievable Carnival with games, food, prizes and fun! We still have plenty to look forward to as well: Moose Bowl, Theater Shows, 8th Grade North Conway Trip, Funtown and much more. The action never stops on the shores of Crescent Lake!!!

Midway Point: Looking Back at the Fun We Had and Looking Forward to So Much More!!!

LS Blog Photo1It’s hard to believe we’re at the halfway point of Second Session! We’ve made so many wonderful memories and look forward to even more over the next 13 days. Yesterday, most of camp traveled to Canobie Lake Park for a day of fun, games, rides and food! Everyone had an amazing time. The CIT’s spent the day on a Magical Mystery Tour seeing parts of Maine they had yet to visit, like the Old Port section of Portland, Hacker’s Hill, Get-Air Trampoline Park and, of course, the Dugout for Ice Cream. When they returned, Roger surprised them with an evening Pontoon Boat Ride. They had a blast! This morning, all 83 members of our 5-Year Club spent the morning at the movies, reflecting on five or more wonderful years of memories.

As we reflect on the first half of the summer, we truly can’t think of a better start.  At the same time, we have so much to look forward to: Spirit Days, Carnival, Funtown, 3-Year Club Party, both Theater Shows, the Laurel South 5K Color Run, Moose Bowl, Final Banquet…the list goes on and on!

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