Camp Laurel South Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Decision to Return to Summer Camp

Deciding to return to summer camp is a big decision that many families are already making.  Sure, it’s difficult to think about summer camp when the temperatures begin to plunge and the holidays are just around the corner.  However, it’s actually the perfect time to decide about returning to camp. The camp season is far enough removed that campers have had time to reflect on their summer.  Parents, also, likely have adequate feedback by now to be able to evaluate the value of sleepaway camp as registrations begin opening to returning campers and, in fact, at some camps, registration is almost complete. Beyond memories and adventures, there are many factors to consider, particularly as campers get older and new options begin to present themselves.  Here are some to think about:

Each summer is a new and unique experience highlighted by changes from year to year: the introduction of new activities as well as the tweaking of existing ones, fresh staff faces, new facilities or remodeled ones to accommodate new programs or expand popular ones.  Camp is truly never the exact same experience twice!

Aside from the physical changes to the camp program, campus, and staff, as children journey through their camp years, they look forward to age-specific traditions each year.  Some of them are relatively small, such as sitting at a special place during meals or a later wake-up in the mornings.  Others are fairly monumental–the trips get bigger and longer, the leadership roles become more significant, and the impact of the traditions themselves grows.

Bonds strengthen over time.  It’s always touching to hear returning campers talk about meeting their best friend at camp or share stories about their favorite counselors.  There is the intimacy of the bunk or cabin environment as well.  As children move through camp with their friends, they become very close.  Fresh opportunities also present themselves each summer for campers to make new friends while trying different things.

When one considers how much change happens at camp each summer, it’s easy to see that by not returning–even for a summer–campers miss out on something big!  The primary goal of sleepaway camps is to make sure campers are safe and have fun.  Their staffs work tirelessly during the winters and dedicate long hours during the summer to make each summer better than the last, which means that probably the most important thing to contemplate when deciding whether to return to camp is that next summer could be a camper’s best summer ever!

The Colleges of Maine

Many campers fall in love with Maine, and vow to return later in life. They’d like to vacation – or maybe even move – there.

Others come back sooner. They go to college in Maine.

Nearly everyone knows Maine’s big three schools: Bates, Bowdoin and Colby. So familiar, they’re often said as one word: “BatesBowdoinColby.” Or abbreviated as just “BBC.”

They’re well respected for many good reasons.

Bates – hey, we’re doing this alphabetically – is the Lewiston school founded in 1855 by abolitionists. The oldest continually operating coed institution in New England, it was one of the first colleges in the country to make SATs optional for admission (way back in 1984).

Bowdoin – in Brunswick, 28 miles north of Portland – was founded in 1794. The alma mater of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Franklin Pierce, it was ranked 6th on the U.S. News and World Report list of top liberal arts colleges.

Colby, in Waterville, was founded in 1813. It’s renowned as the first all-male college in New England to accept women.

But there’s much more to Maine schools than just BBC.

The University of Maine, located in Orono on the Stillwater River, is the flagship of a highly regarded state university system.

Its six other campuses include Fort Kent. On the Canadian border, and celebrating the region’s Franco-Arcadian heritage, it focuses on the needs of rural communities.

The University of Maine at Machias – 200 miles northeast of Portland, on the coast — features a unique environmental liberal arts core.

The Presque Isle campus is not, as its name implies, on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s far north in Aroostook County (the largest county east of the Mississippi River), almost in New Brunswick, Canada. A Native Education Center addresses the needs of Native American students.

Then there’s the College of the Atlantic. Students on the rocky coast of Mount Desert Island – minutes away from Acadia National Park – focus on experiential learning on the schools’ research vessel, or at its Beech Hill Farm.

We always say that – in addition to having fun and growing as people – our campers learn a lot each summer.

A few years later they can learn even more, in a state they’ve grown to love.

Past the Post Camp Lull

It’s here.  The lull.  The point at which the reality has set in that summer is over but next summer isn’t quite real enough.  By now, most of us have shared our favorite memories of camp at least a half dozen times with anyone who will listen  and we’ve actually started to settle into our fall habits, even if we still catch ourselves humming camp songs in that off moment while riding in the car or doing homework.  There is a peacefulness about this time of year, though, because it’s the point at which we really begin to grasp the summer couple of months, reflect on them, and embrace the memories of them.  Believe us!  We’re not joking when we say that for those of us at camp, the summer passes with lightning speed.  Blink more than once and miss it speed, in fact.

It’s hard to really take it all in in the moment.  But one of the best things about camp is that it is something that can be savored.  Henry David Thoreau wrote, “But the place which you have selected for your camp, though never so rough and grim, begins at once to have its attractions, and becomes a very centre of civilization to you.”  And he was right.  Camp is as much a mindset as it is a place.  For the next ten months, things will regularly happen that will remind us of something that happened at camp.  Whether it was a heart to heart with a counselor, a favorite activity, or even just the adventurous spirit that comes with discovering something new, each summer at camp is full of about a million opportunities to learn just a little bit more about life, some of them impossible to realize until well after the original moment has passed but each of them capable of taking campers and staff back to that “place.”

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