Shining stars on a clear summer night. A gentle breeze whistling through the trees. The call of the loon in the evening or a robin chirping in the morning. A summer in Maine reminds us to slow down and cherish every minute. Of course, those aren’t the only sensory sensations of the summer. Camp is alive with energy every day from echoes at Cove to cheering on the Fields to laughter and splashing in Crescent Lake and songs rehearsed in the Theater. Laurel South’s spirit can be seen and heard from one end of camp to the other!
One thing you won’t hear throughout the summer: the ping of an Instagram notification or the buzz of a phone. A summer at camp is the perfect place for a digital detox. There are numerous studies about the benefits of staying unplugged: increased concentration, better short- and long-term memory, improved conversation skills and higher self-esteem are among the many perks of getting away from digital devices.
It’s easy to quickly double tap a friend’s post, update your own status or clear the notification bar. But, just as easily, it can take us out of the moment. Camp is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. Campers find themselves making genuine connections with their peers and counselors. They also have the opportunity to exercise their minds in a more ‘analog’ way by writing letters home and reading books.
Digital advances have made our world easier and more accessible in many ways, but campers (and counselors!) will be surprised by how great they feel after time away from their devices.
The first day of camp is often like the first day of a new school year. New faces, new activities and a renewed excitement for the summer ahead. Roger and Dagni often talk about how the memories we make and the friendships we forge at camp will last a lifetime. Approaching camp with this in mind allows each camper to be the author of their own adventures and memories. It also allows them to include their friends and counselors in their summer stories.
Camp is an incredible crash course in meeting people and making friends. Campers share with each other, communicate together and learn different perspectives all summer long. Children are interacting in ways they never get to throughout the school year. They’re eating S’mores, competing in athletics and singing songs. Most importantly, campers are living the cabin life, which is so much more than the place where campers and counselors brush their teeth and fall sleep. It’s where they become a summer family, create lifelong inside jokes and learn to be great friends. At the end of every summer, each cabin paints a cabin rock that captures their favorite camp moments: a token to visit in future summers to be reminded of all the great memories.
Campers appreciate their camp friends for all the right reasons. They stand up for and encourage one another. At Laurel South, campers learn not only to make friends, but also develop the tools necessary to allow those friendships to grow through their shared summer experiences.
“Work” and “camp” aren’t often found in the same sentence, especially for children who go to camp. But it’s important for children to develop patience and a good work ethic. It’s equally important to dream big. Camp is the best opportunity to merge hard work, big dreams and creativity. Whether they’re using their less-dominant foot in soccer, throwing a bowl in ceramics or performing an original song at a campfire, Laurel South offers endless opportunities for children to achieve the prideful feeling of a job well done.
Camp is the ideal setting to take ‘safe risks’ by trying something new. And experiencing fresh activities creates a lasting sense of curiosity. Conquering the climbing wall or learning to waterski may seem daunting when viewed from afar, but having counselors break down activities into simpler steps can be inspirational when trying something new.
Beyond the initial wonder of an activity, the structure of our program and quality of our staff allows campers to develop skills. When children can work toward something, they truly appreciate the end result. It’s more rewarding when a goal is earned through patience and hard work, especially in today’s world of instant gratification. And with campers being involved in the goal-setting process from the beginning, they learn that hard work pays off. Prolonged satisfaction creates determined, hard-working individuals. The best part for children and parents: how much FUN they’re having while they’re developing their skills!
We hope everyone is excited to celebrate Halloween safely. It’s always a fun time of year to see amusing costumes. At camp, we’re able to show our creative side when it comes to face paint and wacky outfits. Camp is one of the best places to show your spirit. And there are ample opportunities for it: popping on the tie-dye you just made with your cabinmates, putting together a themed ensemble for socials or rocking your Spirit Days colors.
One of the foundations of camp is providing a space for campers to feel comfortable expressing themselves. It’s a place where we’re never too cool or too old to have fun. Perhaps the best part of dressing up at camp is the ability to plan it out with your closest friends. The enthusiasm while planning makes the event better!
Crazy hair, ridiculous costumes and face paint all encourage creativity. And it’s nearly impossible to get ready without also sporting a smile. From Team Day to Camo Day to Red, White and Blue everything on July 4th; the expressiveness of our campers and counselors is always a joy to see!
At Laurel South, campers develop in a myriad of ways. Campers may come to camp eager to work on their backhand in tennis, their chords in guitar, their skills as a goalie. They automatically get the intrinsic benefits of living at sleepaway camp: social-emotional development, lifelong friendships, confidence and staying active. At times, however, Outdoor Adventure can be overlooked when evaluating camp’s impact. This program is just as beneficial for campers as everything else at Laurel South.
Outdoor Adventure creates self-reliance. Campers learn to trust themselves and expand their capabilities. Reaching the top of the climbing wall for the first time is exhilarating. Campers learn to overcome their fears. Going on hikes throughout Maine’s beautiful local, state and national parks opens up a whole new world for many of our campers.
Outdoor Adventure also focuses on teamwork rather than competition. There is no ‘beating’ the other team. Everyone cheers when someone ziplines across the Trout Pond or conquers The Giant Swing. Whatever new challenge captures a camper’s imagination, they will leave that activity with a sense of empowerment. Perhaps the most important aspect of Outdoor Adventure is the ‘outdoor’ side of things. Campers love feeling the crisp breeze through the Maine trees. The raw experience of being in nature make seemingly simple activities – like hiking and camping – memorable. Particularly for campers coming from cities or suburbs. And the best part? Campers are creating and sharing those memories with their closest friends.
There are tons of big events at Laurel South. From Arrival Day to Spirit Days, Opening Ceremony to the Final Banquet. It can be easy to chart one’s way through the summer based on what big event just happened and what’s on the horizon. That’s intentional, of course. There’ll always be memories being made and something to look forward to. However, asking counselors and campers to recap their summers will only include a handful of those events. The best times at camp often come away from the action.
Our counselors hear it during Orientation and at every staff meeting: Little moments have a big impact. Bedtime stories, creating a mini-hockey tournament at Rest Hour, taking the time to teach camp songs and how to make friendship bracelets. The most vivid memories can’t be re-created outside of camp. They happen organically.
This also happens in reverse. Our campers teach us all the time. They remind us to capture a moment. We get to re-live the excitement when a camper scores their first goal in a soccer intercamp. We’re proud when someone takes the stage for their first time at an all-camp campfire. We love hearing the enthusiasm in campers’ voices when they return from a hike. Camp is about the friendships, the activities, the inside jokes, the cabin games. More than anything, it’s about the moments that only happen at camp.
We’ve heard Roger say it many times. It’s such a simple request, but one that has taken root at Laurel South over the years. It’s a staple of the Laurel South experience. Be kinder than necessary. It may seem overly simplistic, but when put into action, is one of the cornerstones for the family vibe at Laurel South. It reminds everyone that we’re on the same team and have the same goal. At camp, acts of kindness are routinely celebrated. Small acts of goodwill toward others build up, creating the foundation for our culture.
There are so many opportunities to be kinder than necessary every day at camp. At activities, it’s seen through the praise and support we have for one another. Campers and counselors remain competitive and sportsmanlike in athletics. Positive feedback pushes campers toward new literal heights on the climbing wall. Artists find new ways to refine their creative work in InterArts. This attitude is entrenched in our Camp Brother, Camp Sister programs. Prospective families touring Laurel South always mention the welcoming smiles and friendly demeanor of everyone around camp.
The message may sound simple: Be kinder than necessary. But it’s a key building block for a successful summer. Campers and counselors go out of their way to look out for each other. It creates a ripple effect, allowing for a perpetually upbeat atmosphere. And that’s what the Laurel South Spirit is all about!
You may have begun to notice that, ever so slowly, the nights are beginning to turn a bit cooler and the sun is rising a bit later. This could only mean that Fall is upon us, and school is right around the corner. Of course, school will look different for everyone this year.
Whether it’s online, in-person or a hybrid, students and teachers will be together again. Conversations will be had about what we did during our extended break and how different 2020 has been than any year in memory. We’ve heard over and over how much our campers and counselors missed being at Laurel South: missing the routines, missing learning new skills, missing the outdoors, and, mostly, missing camp friends and the chance to be mentored by our amazing staff. We all are yearning for the community and unconditional acceptance we feel at camp.
As our campers head back to school, please know that we missed sharing everything with you, but we’re one step closer to being together on the shores of Crescent Lake in 2021!
Campers return home at the end of each summer with a boatload of benefits gained during their time away. From mastering a forehand in tennis to throwing the perfect bowl in ceramics, campers return with increased confidence and self-esteem. They also come home feeling connected and part of the amazing Laurel South community.
Now is the perfect time for campers to utilize the skills they developed at camp. Take some time to continue the comic book you created last summer. Work up a sweat by going for a run, juggling a soccer ball or working on your ball-handling skills. Up your kitchen game when you’re ready for lunch or dinner with our Culinary Center Recipe Book.
Finally, staying in touch with your camp friends has never been easier thanks to technology. But nothing beats a hand-written letter. Take the time to write to your camp friends about the good times, fun activities, and memories you’ve shared. And don’t forget to include all the things you’re looking forward to next summer at Laurel South!
Wishing our Laurel South Family all the best and excited to see you on the shores of Crescent Lake in June.
It’s another beautiful day in the state of Maine! The sun is shining and Crescent Lake is warm and inviting! While camp is so quiet this summer, there’s still a lot going on. We’ve built two new Baxter cabins and they look amazing; the new Green Room at the Laurel South Theater is magnificent; the Frog Pond is getting a facelift; the Fields are freshly mowed and the Courts are ready – now all we need is you in 2021!
Roger and Dagni are also prepping to make 2021 the best summer ever. They’re diving into Staff Orientation, Evening Programs, S-Days, and much, much more. We’ve had staff members visit with us in Casco throughout the summer for specialized meetings: Area Directors, Head Counselors and Campus Leaders, our Medical Team…all designed to make sure that 2021 is the best summer we’ve ever had!
We hope you’re all enjoying our new Website and Films. We also hope you have enjoyed our Social Media videos attempting to bring a little bit of Laurel South magic to you. Keep the camp spirit in your hearts. We can’t wait to see you in 2021!