Camp Laurel South Blog

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 crafted my mom a necklace in my metalsmithing class. 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. Jewelry making, 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.

 

Summer Camp: Instilling Life Skills All Year Long

DSC_0120As parents, you want to teach your child the importance of hard work, patience and help them achieve the priceless feeling of accomplishment after a job well done. You want to raise your children to work hard so they can play hard. What better way to start this concept than by rewarding your hard working and dedicated child with a summer camp experience of their dreams?

By having a goal in sight, your child will have something to think about, focus on and strive for throughout the school year. Kids who are passionate about athletics can look forward to fine-tuning their skills through intercamps, skill clinics and recreational programs. Future movie stars will be itching at the chance to shine in various acting classes and musicals. Whether your child is a music aficionado or adventure seeker, animal lover or athlete, the Laurel Camps have specific activities and programs geared toward your children’s favorite activities. Whatever it is that gets your kids excited, they can focus on those activities while at camp. When kids have something to look forward to, they are more likely to stay on track, complete their responsibilities and make good choices. When they are working toward something, they truly appreciate the end result.

If you’ve been thinking about giving your child the gift of an unforgettable camping experience, a great time to start talking about it with your child is at the end of summer vacation. As your child starts to get excited about the upcoming school year, take some time to talk about your expectations for them. Let them contribute to the conversation by listing what goals they have and what expectations they have of themselves. Introduce the idea of summer camp, and there is no doubt your child will be through the roof with excitement at the prospect of unlimited athletics, water sports, camping, hiking, and the vast activities summer camp has to offer. Together, come up with an agreement based on what is expected of your child that will enable them to experience camp. Write down the expectations and keep them somewhere for you and your child to look back on throughout the year.

_U2C1362When the excitement of the new school year dies down and your child falls into the routine of school, a simple reminder of the thrilling ropes course or the opportunity to sail, wakeboard and fish on the beautiful lake can be just the boost they need to stay focused and meet their goals. A countdown on the refrigerator is a great visual reminder to keep kids excited about how close they are to a summer they’ll never forget.

By letting your child be a part of the goal setting process, they learn that hard work pays off, and by putting in the time and effort now, they will reap the rewards in the future. This is an excellent skill for children to have, especially in a world of “I want it right now.” Prolonged satisfaction makes for hardworking, patient and determined individuals, qualities that every parent wants to instill in their child.

If you are ready to help your child experience the priceless feeling of working hard and earning something on their own, get them involved in goal setting and give them something to look forward to. Their reward is not just a summer away at camp; their reward is new friends, new experiences, and learning things about themselves that they will use for the rest of their lives. And as a parent, THAT is something to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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