Camp Laurel South Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Spirit Days…

Yesterday was an amazing Out of Camp “S” Day. Our CIT’s headed out on a Magical Mystery Bus Tour for a day of exploring the fun, sights and beauty of Maine. For the rest of us, the day at Canobie Lake couldn’t have been any better. What a great time we all had on rides, playing games. Picnic lunch and spending time with friends.

Today seemed like an ordinary “A” Day. The weather was perfect…breakfast was great…first and second periods were a lot of fun.

Once the Fruit Break dance party began, before we knew it, the CIT’s were breaking Spirit Days!! For the next day and a half, the Blue Knights and Green Vikings will battle it out in the friendliest of competitions. We will compete hard and cheer out loud. We’re so psyched for Spirit Days 2013! Its gonna be awesome!

Laurel South Shines…

What an amazing first week we had on Crescent Lake. Our 8th and 9th graders have returned from their incredible trips to Acadia National Park and White Water Rafting on the Kennebec River. They pulled into Casco just in time for our awesome Laurel South Drive-In Movie night. Everyone enjoyed the pre-movie dance party before settling in with snacks to watch The Emperor’s New Groove.

Roger and Dagni had a great dinner with the members of our 7 Year Club. Thirty one campers who’ve been with us for 7 years or more.
What an incredible group!

Activities are in full swing – climbing to fitness to dance, wakeboarding, crafts, lacrosse, gymnastics and more! Intercamp games and tournaments are an everyday occurrence. Camping trips are ‘outta sight. The weather has been great…and we are having a blast!

Sports, Waterfront, Arts, Trips, Intercamps and More…

Second Session 2013 is off to an amazing start! It’s hard to believe we’ve been here almost a week! We’re well into our first rotation of “A” and “B” days and the program is humming! There’s a tangible excitement coming from all over camp: from the ball fields to the theater, the Equestrian Center to Crescent Lake, the sounds of fun, excitement and enthusiasm ring out. Intercamp games and tournaments are in full swing: tennis, basketball, lacrosse, climbing, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball and swimming.

Tomorrow is our first “S” Day of the session. Our 8th graders will head to Acadia National Park while our 9th graders will tackle the Kennebec River on their whitewater rafting excursion. Saco and Kineo are off to Splashtown USA for an incredible day and our 7th Graders will head off to Seacoast. Allagash and Baxter (5th and 6th Graders) will have camp all to themselves for an awesome beach party!!!
The good times never stop at Camp Laurel South.

Elasticity

Elasticity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality of being adaptable.” By definition, elasticity is not merely a description of successful campers and staff, but a description of summer camp itself. Summer camps have existed for over a century and are generally considered a piece of Americana.   With well over 12,000 summer camps across the United States (and a collective enrollment in the tens of millions), however, summer camp is anything but a thing of the past. It’s a strong “tradition” that continues to attract families from all over the world.

One might be tempted to ask what quality of summer camp enables it to continue to thrive. Undoubtedly, that quality its elasticity. While summer camps are rooted in tradition, they’re also in tune with the contemporary needs of children. Summer camp was originally a place where parents sent their children to escape from the health hazards posed by the increasing industrialization of cities. Now, it’s a place where children are sent to escape the automation of society. Camp is no longer merely a place to reconnect with nature but with each other as well. Summer camps have expanded their activities to reflect this evolution. In addition to sports, camps offer activities such as outdoor adventure, which include rope and obstacle courses designed for team building.

Summer camps have also tapped into the rising de-emphasis of the arts in public schools and embraced programs that encourage campers to explore their creative sides. In addition to traditional arts & crafts, many camps now provide campers with options in cooking, music, magic, and even circus arts. The generous availability of these programs attracts families who want their children to have the opportunity to explore their artistic sides.

In demonstrating a clear understanding of how campers benefit from attending camp, summer camps have been able to adapt by translating the voids created by advancements in society into meaningful and timeless activities.

Second Session Kicks Off…

What an amazing Arrival Day we had!!! We’re so excited our Second Session campers have finally arrived from all over the United States and the world. Yesterday was spent catching up with old friends and making connections with new ones. Today is Moose Stomp Day – we’re making schedules, taking photos, cooling off with Ice Pops and Bumper Tubing on beautiful Crescent Lake!!! Tonight is our Opening Council Fire and tomorrow is our very first full program day of the session. The good times have just begun at Laurel South. What a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!

Farewell for Now…and Hello…

We had an incredible First Session!! We played, ran, sang, hiked, skied, laughed, smiled and enjoyed the summer like never before. While we’re sad the First Session campers have departed, we choose not to say, “Goodbye”, but rather, “See you next year!”

We’re already gearing up for an equally amazing Second Session and counting the minutes. We can’t wait to see our campers on Thursday!!

Healthy Competition

“Healthy Competition” is a term that is often used at summer camp.  While they also offer a wide selection of niche and hobby type activities, traditional summer camps focus heavily on sports.  The emphasis, however, is more about encouraging campers to be active and improve their skills.  This is not to say that campers do not participate in sports matches.  In fact, many camps not only facilitate game play through intra camp leagues, but inter camp leagues as well.  Thus, “healthy competition”, as it is used at camp, is an expression to describe contests with positive encouragement, regardless of the outcome, and not merely a synonym for “no competition.”

Po Bronson, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing believes that the camaraderie that results fromh healthy team competition encourages children to learn at a faster pace and alleviates the stress of learning a new skill or attempting to improve existing abilities on one’s own.  Another aspect of camp competition that makes it healthy competition is that it’s limited in scope and time.  It takes place only as long as camp lasts and does not extend beyond the camp environment.  This, according to Bronson, is a key element of “healthy competition, “In finite games, you compete and then you let it go, and you have rest and recuperation – that’s actually really important for kids,” said Bronson. “It’s the continuous sense of pressure that is unhealthy for them.”

The stress of not making a team or of underperforming is not a pervading force in camp athletics.  Says Bronson, “What kids do need to learn is losing is not that big a deal. They need to learn to lose and go ‘Oh, whatever,’ and move on and keep playing…You want to get them to turn up the work ethic in order to win.”  At camp, losing is not a big deal, because every summer is a new summer–new tryouts, new teams, and new possibilities.  The constant rearrangement of groups also helps campers shrug off losses.  Another day brings another activity and a new group with which to compete.  A loss in one activity does not translate to a closely monitored record that eventually defines a team and, sometimes, individuals.  The teams are constantly changing and so are the competitions.

The break between summers also makes growth measurable for campers.  When children constantly train and participate in a sport, it’s more difficultfor them to see themselves improving, even when they are.  The ten month gap from one summer to the next provides campers with the time and distance necessary for improvements to be noticeable.  The distinct parameters of camp that restrict it to a single season—summer—also remove the constant pressure of advancing skills as quickly as possible so as to always be able to perform at peak level.  Every summer is a new summer–new tryouts, new teams, and new possibilities.  As a result, campers tend to maintain a healthy attitude about camp sports, which makes them naturally receptive to the idea of genuinely healthy competition.  At camp, it’s not so much about winning and losing as setting goals and measuring one’s progress from summer to summer.

“What kids need more than anything is not to win or lose but a close race, a fair competition where everyone feels like they’ve got a fighting chance,” says Bronson.  “Where everyone feels like they have a fighting chance” is exactly what summer camp is, and why it’s an environment naturally conducive to healthy competition.

First Sessions Winds Down…

The First Session of 2013 may soon be coming to an end, but the good times have not slowed down at all. Yesterday was our final “S” Day, and the entire camp enjoyed an amazing day at Funtown USA. Form the rides to the games to the food and the fun, it was a day not to be forgotten. We’re now into our final “A” and “B” days of the session with all the culminating activities: the Zip Line and Giant Swing at Challenge Course, the final Gymnastics Show, Grilling with Roger at Anything Goes and the good times rock on.

After the incredible production of Lion King by Laurel South’s younger thespians, we’re excited for tonight’s performance of Hairspray. Tomorrow night is our Final Banquet and Social. After packing on Sunday, we will all go to our closing Council Fire before saying, “See you next summer” to our Laurel South family.

It’s been an awesome First Session!!!

A Whole New World

At one of America’s Finest Summer Camps, a first year camper, upon stepping off the bus on arrival day for the first time, immediately exclaimed, “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life!” The awe of that young camper at that moment was very reminiscent of the scene in The Little Mermaid in which the young mermaid Ariel finds herself on land for the first time and, with her new legs, begins experiencing a whole new world.  She is mesmerized by the smallest human things—flatware, trinkets, and mirrors.  For young campers who finally get to come to camp for the first time after sometimes waiting their “whole lives,” there is a sense of wonder in being in a new place with different people and things.  They are surrounded by literally dozens of activities that perhaps they’ve never tried and, sometimes, of which they’ve never even heard.  Like Ariel the mermaid, they sometimes hear about the world of camp from older siblings for years before finally getting to experience themselves.  With that newness and the adventure of being in a place one has dreamed for a very long time comes a sense of openness and a willingness to try new things.  New campers often want to try EVERYTHING!

And why not?  What better way to discover which things one loves than at summer camp, an environment in which many new campers are away from their parents for the first time?  There is no sideline pressure from over-zealous parents and coaches at camp sports.  There are no teachers to mark right from wrong.  Instead, new campers are surrounded by supportive counselors, staff, and friends, many of whom are also first time campers and that natural empathy creates an atmosphere conducive to bonding and the formation of lasting friendships.

As campers maneuver the new world of camp, they share like experiences.  Whether big, like taking on a high ropes course for the first time as a cabin or small, like learning how to bait a fishing hook, learning what camp is all about becomes the foundation for the transformation of the new world of first time campers into the special world of camp. Because the menu of camp activities constantly expands and evolves, there is a perpetual newness to the summer camp experience.  Even though, for older campers, camp becomes a special place to which campers get to journey once a year, that essence of being a whole new world lives on summer after summer and is what drives campers to spend their winters counting down for that annual journey to experience it.

The Action Never Stops…

The action never stops at Laurel South! After an amazing “S” Day breakfast, Carnival and incredible Camper Variety Show, our 8th Graders left Monday for their two day trip to Attitash and North Conway. They had a blast. Programs are running full steam and our evening activities are way cool. Our Saco and Kineo campers just returned from their berry-picking excursion. We continue to participate in intercamps and tournaments all over southern Maine.

Tonight is our 3rd Annual Moosebowl!!! Once again the Rattlesnakes and Black Bears will meet on the gridiron. The entire camp will gather for a tailgate cookout for dinner before making their way to the field to watch the men of Rangeley battle it out in a game of flag football. There will be a halftime dance exhibition, tee shirt launchers, announcers and Roger and Dagni at the coin flip. This event has become a favorite for the entire Laurel South family!

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