Camp Laurel South Blog

In Full Swing

FiveBlog Photo 1 days may seem like a short time in the “real world”, but at camp it’s amazing how action-packed that time can be!  We have already finished our first two “A” and “B” Days.  Intercamp games are in full swing. The cheers from the ballfields, the laughter from the Art Center and the smells from the Culinary Studio are all signs that say we’ve had an outstanding beginning to the 2016 summer at Laurel South!

The 6th grade boys had a blast on the first overnight camping trip of the summer. Our CIT’s headed off to the Kennebec River for an incredible White Water Rafting Trip and our 8th Graders headed out for their overnight trip to picturesque Acadia National Park. We always miss them when they depart, but we can’t wait to hear all their stories upon return. Blog Photo 2

Tomorrow will be our first “S” Day of the summer! After our traditional “S” Day breakfast, Saco and Kineo are off to Splashtown USA, Baxter and Allagash will head to Aquaboggan and our 7th Graders will spend the day at Old Orchard Beach. These trips are designed to add variety to the schedule and allow our campers to explore some of the beauty that Maine has to offer.

As you can see, we are in full swing, and the action never ends!

And So It Begins…

Unknown-1While memories of camp seasons gone by warm our hearts during the winter months, there’s nothing like the anticipation spring brings for another awesome summer in Casco. After weeks with our amazing Pre-Camp Crew and a week of Staff Orientation with our incredible  counselors, nothing beats the excitement of Camper Arrival Day when we all meet at All Camp Cove and hear Roger say those words we’ve been longing to hear, “Good Evening Laurel South!!”

Yesterday was a time for rekindling old friendships and forging new ones, high-fiving our counselors and introducing ourselves to new staff members.  We had our traditional Opening Night Cook Out before each campus broke off for their Evening Programs. Once back in the cabin, the campers and counselors became better acquainted and began building the cabin family dynamic.

UnknownToday is Moose Stomp: a combination of administrative tasks (Health Checks, Picture Taking, Theater Auditions, etc.) along with fun Laurel South favorites (S’mores at the Outpost, Bumper Tubing on Crescent Lake, Snow Cones at Downeast, etc.)  By this time tomorrow, camp will be in full swing with programming, boats and skiers out on the lake, cheers from the Ballfields and creativity expressed in the Arts.

We say at camp the days are long because of all the fun we have, and the weeks are short because of how quickly it flies by.  But one thing is for certain, we never take for granted the fun times we have, the memories we make or the understanding of how lucky we are to be here with each other!

What a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!

Counting Down the Days!

Camp sure seems quiet right now. After a week of fun games, bonding with friends old and new and learning about why Laurel South is such a special place, our staff is getting excited beyond words  for Camper Arrival on Thursday.Unknown

Our counselors are hired for two separate, yet equally important roles: cabin counselor and activity counselor. Drew, Kari and our amazing Campus Leaders educate our staff about what makes a Laurel South cabin the warm, inviting family it is. Under the tutelage of Brad and Kasey, our incredible Area Directors, the staff learns about the high expectations we have for our programs and develop a wonderful curriculum for the summer.

We have an awesome group of young men and women, both returners and first timers, who just can’t wait for the summer of a lifetime!!!

Competition at Camp

Since before the training wheels were even taken off of my bike, I’ve been playing sports. My older brothers were all exceptional athletes which put a lot of pressure on me; I was constantly being compared to them and thus was always being pushed to run faster, train harder and jump higher. There was a lot of emphasis put on being the best. I won plenty of medals and trophies and was considered an MVP in most sports I played. I loved playing, but more than that, I loved winning. I lived for that feeling. I would do whatever it took to be on top and wouldn’t enjoy myself if I wasn’t the champion. Then I went to camp.

 

When I stepped on the camp fields for the first time I began with my usual intensity. It took a second for me to realize just how different the environment was from what I was used to. Usually I’d look around before a game and see serious, intense faces. At camp, I instead saw smiling, happy ones. I realized that while I played to win, my fellow campers had different motives. They enjoyed winning, but they played to learn something new, push themselves and spend an hour doing something they loved. They helped show me there’s a difference between friendly competition and unhealthy competition.

 

My competitive spirit came solely from winning and being the best. I learned that healthy competitiveness comes from improving and being your best self. Instead of being in competition with others, I began competing with my past self. This allowed me to focus on the skills I needed to improve on while still enjoying the game. When you can walk away from a sport and still have had a great time, win or lose, you’re a winner.

 

When I got home, I took what I learned and applied it to my sports teams. It was difficult for my dad to learn to calm down, stay quiet and stop focusing solely on winning, but when he saw how much happier I was and how much I improved, he started to come around.

 

I’m so thankful for Camp Laurel South and how they taught me to be a compassionate, helpful and less stressed athlete and person.

 

Alex, age 14

Going on a Hike… More than Just Good Exercise!

When you hear the word “camp,” you probably think of three things right away: campfires, friendship and the outdoors.

Without any of these essential elements, camp just wouldn’t be the same. Spending much-needed time in nature is what brings many of us back year after year, so it’s no surprise that hiking in the natural areas around Camp Laurel South is a very popular activity each summer.

There’s nothing like fresh air to remind us of the things that matter in life.

The Healing Power of Nature

Did you know the average person only walks half as much as doctors recommend for a healthy lifestyle?

In today’s world this is especially true; between smartphones and tablets, time spent outdoors is seriously dwindling. But hiking isn’t just a serious workout. It is a way for campers and counselors to soak in the sun, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy each other’s company. Without realizing it, they are improving their physical, emotional and mental health – all while having fun in the process!

The Journey is the Destination

In the high-energy world of camp activities, hiking is the perfect opportunity to slow down. While the summit may be spectacular, the best part of hiking is the camaraderie and togetherness of tackling the trail. Campers have the chance to get to know one another and to experience the outdoors with people they enjoy.

Life is like a trail, and every journey begins with a single step. Whatever your dream may be, it’s waiting for you at the top of the mountain. The journey may be long… but there’s no reason to make it alone. Stick with your camp friends and you’ll be there before you know it!

What a Council Fire Means to a Camper

Camp may be continually changing, but the traditional council fire has remained a constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a council fire brings back a flood of memories for many campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome and a carefree time. Nothing captures the spirit of the camp experience quite like the “snap-crackle-pop” of a hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without council fires. After all, the traditional council fire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night, it represents tradition, togetherness and so much more.

LS 3Tradition

For as long as anyone can remember, friends and family have gathered around fires to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. It’s a way to connect you to the past, and to enjoy the present. Not only is sitting and enjoying a fire a great tradition, but building the fire is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, flashlights or smartphones. In an ever-changing world, this connection to the past is invaluable.

And of course, no mention of council fires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.

TogethernessLS 2

Another concept council fires represent is togetherness. Council fires are a time for winding down through songs, skits and stories. Many campers feel tired after a long day of activities, but you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight.

…And of Course – S’mores!

Almost everyone’s favorite part of a campfire: S’mores! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes a bit of work and commitment. Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and Hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe, roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring fire is something nobody forgets.

Five Reasons Campers Would Win “The Hunger Games”

Surely, many of you have seen “The Hunger Games” films or read the books. For those who haven’t – imagine a post-apocalyptic world where 16 citizens are pitted against each other in a battle to the end. Everyone who has heard of “The Hunger Games” has surely thought about their own strategy and technique they would use when participating…but how would campers fare? From archery to camping skills, here are 5 reasons campers would definitely win:

1. They Use Teamwork

Campers know better than anybody that teamwork increases the odds of success no matter what you’re doing. Being comfortable working on a team and trusting in others to do their part takes guts; whether you’re fighting for your family in the Hunger Games or coming up with an act for the next campfire.

2. They Know How to Hit a Bullseye 

What do medieval knights, Hawkeye and summer campers all have in common? That’s right — unbeatable archery skills! Katniss might get a run for her money if she participated in a camp archery competition — some campers are seriously sharp shooters. Knowing how to use a bow and arrow is a rare skill in this day and age, but it’s no mystery to anyone who has gone to camp.

3. They’re Resourceful

One of the biggest challenges of “The Hunger Games” is making do with what you have, and using creativity to solve problems. Campers use their imaginations all the time; whether in theatre, crafts or in the cabin — creativity is abundant. Needless to say, being resourceful would be no problem for campers.

4. They Know How to Camp Out

As if being on the run and fighting defying odds weren’t enough, the contestants of the Hunger Games also have to survive for days on end in the wilderness — sleeping under the stars, making shelters out of branches, and always planning ahead so they have access to their basic necessities. Luckily there’s no real risk at summer camp, but campers still get to practice the fun side of wilderness survival skills. From learning to start campfires to exploring nature and wildlife, exposure to the skills needed to have a blast in the great outdoors is a huge part of camp life.

5. They’re Loyal to Their Friends

Last but not least, the biggest and best part of camp life: friendship. It’s friendship that saves Katniss at the end of the film (spoiler alert!), and it’s friendship that brings campers back to summer camp year after year. Katniss shows that she’s willing to give up everything for her friends and family. Campers learn that friendship isn’t just about taking — it’s also about giving back, volunteering, and always being ready to help others.

Camp Crafts: Keeping the Arts Alive

Summer camp isn’t just about campfires, sports and jumping in the lake. From ceramics to theater; jewelry making to painting and drawing, camp has activities available for anyone and everyone!

Art Offers Variety

Camp is a hands-on place, so it makes sense that the hands-on approach applies to all camp activities. Painting, ceramics and other studio arts give campers a chance to slow down, zone in and get their hands dirty in a creative environment. Camp is full of creative outlets and everybody gets a chance to try out different mediums until they find the one that speaks to them.

Theater Brings People Together

Theater is a great way for campers to practice team organization outside of a sports environment. The end product is usually a little on the goofy side (this is camp after all, not Shakespeare), but what’s really valuable about the activity is applying those team-building skills to everyday camp life.

The Arts Foster Creativity

No two campers are the same and thus it makes sense that no two pieces of art are the same. Whether drawing a picture, creating a necklace or molding a bowl, creativity is at work. There is something special about following the same instructions as the person next to you, but ending up with something completely different. This self-expression allows for campers to think “outside the box”.

Self-Expression Builds Confidence

Ultimately, the goal of creative activities at camp is to build confidence through self-expression. The arts have always been a safe place for campers to express what they have on their minds. No matter the discipline, every camper gets a chance to show their own unique creative spark.

Camp isn’t just a fun place — it’s a creative place too! So get creative in the arts. There’s no better time than summer to make something spectacular!

Baseball Fever at Camp

Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd!

Baseball…generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game. Much like camp, baseball is something that many take for granted as a part of our childhood. It should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most anticipated activities, but what is it that makes baseball so special?LS 5

The Thinking Person’s Sport

Everyone has their theories, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, requires a good amount of thought. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the game is a series of split second decisions. Baseball requires more planning for the future and half the game is spent between plays. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead. As it turns out, the anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.

Taking the Time to Learn

The leisurely pace of baseball makes it well-suited for players of all abilities. While the sport requires concentration and focus, it’s also a slower game, allowing for a better learning curve. Beginners can take their time and learn all the game’s nuances, while experts can continue to perfect their craft. Everyone has the ability to enjoy.

IMG_1259Room to Breath

Everyone needs a little room to breathe playing sports or in everyday life. While at camp you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Baseball is very similar. Sometimes the game is action-packed, but sometimes it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. Not only are you going to be able to cheer on your teammate, but you’ll be able to use that time to get ready for your turn.

 …and when your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!

Tips for Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

Thinking about what you’ll be doing this summer? If you loved camp as a kid and are too old to be a camper, think about applying to be a counselor! Afterall, a successful camp depends greatly on its staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to connect with campers and fellow counselors…form friendships and make memories!
  1. Get ready to be excited about everything!Campers will feed off of your energy! You’re their role model for the summer, so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!
  1. At camp, time moves quickly! When you arrive for Staff Orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away…I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the end of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!
  1. LS 2Prepare to be enthusiastic about everything! From making the best friendship bracelets to playing others in Ping Pong, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Enjoy it as this is one of the ways your group shows pride!
  1. Expect to leave camp a changed person in some way! The summer will have a profound impact on you; the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but a summer at camp will change you for the better!
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