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!
It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Crescent Lake over the weekend. We missed all our campers and counselors! Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to celebrate Independence Day together in Maine. We’re grateful for the fun events each summer. Sometimes Spirit Days falls on the 4th…or how about a 4th of July Carnival Day? We always have amazing activities planned, culminating with a traditional BBQ cookout and, of course, the greatest fireworks show in all of Maine!
We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel South-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.
We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel South family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you all had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s independence on the shores of Crescent Lake in 2021!
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. We came up with a list of fun Laurel South activities that can be done to keep things interesting. We’d also love to hear the at-home ideas our Laurel South family is up to in the comments below!
Scavenger hunts are one of the many team-building activities we utilize when camp opens to create a great community with awesome communication. Want to make it fun while also being productive? Get your camp duffels out and set up clues for items your campers will bring to camp. The duffel can be home for the clues and items they find around the house. This is a great way to generate excitement for camp.
Backyard or Indoor Camping
Nothing beats being with friends in the great outdoors. And now is a great time to ease into the world of outdoor camping by setting up a tent in the yard or living room. Don’t have a tent? Make a fort with blankets and pillows. A fun activity for parents and children, this can easily be modified by setting up a digital camp hangout with your friends. It’s also the perfect excuse for some Indoor S’mores!
Change the Channel
Change the Channel is a theatre game that’s stood the test of time because it relies on imagination and improvisation. Setup is simple: start with two or more actors and one director. The director gives the actors a scene (like waterskiing on Crescent Lake with a boat driver and skier). At any time, the Director yells ‘Freeze!’ and trades places with one of the actors who then becomes the director and sets up a new scene with the frozen actors before calling out ‘Action!’
Camp is the best place for pen pals. And now is the perfect time to reach out to your camp friends, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles as an old school (or digital) pen pal. As a (massive) bonus, this will help your campers get into the habit of writing before camp starts, netting parents some extra letters when the temperature heats up!
There is so much excitement in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to camp. Filling out activity forms and packing duffels inevitably has me chomping at the bit for summer to start. As the buses roll in, campers and counselors cheer. It’s an incredible scene for returning and new campers alike. The nerves leading up to camp melt away with all the high-fives and hugs that happen instantly!
Songs and Cheers
They’re silly. They’re fun. And they’re catchy. Camp songs are stuck in my head all year long. I don’t realize I’m humming Where I Wanna Be while doing homework. The Kennebec and Kennebago Songs, Saco Train, Baxter Slide all make me smile at random. The energy and enthusiasm in the melodies around camp make me smile all year long.
Silent claps, snaps and ‘making rain’ set the campfire mood. Singing No Place Like Camp, arms around your friends is the best. Campfires showcase some of Laurel South’s best talent. Campfires and camp go together like sun butter and jelly. And, of course, we end each campfire with All My Life’s a Circle and House at Pooh Corner.
Nothing beats the Maine night sky. The first time I saw a shooting star was magical. It was also surprising because a cabinmate knew SO MUCH about the solar system. I knew who to sit by when we went stargazing every summer since. Not only did the stars light up the night, but they helped develop a new friendship.
The Great Outdoors: There’s nothing better than fresh air, sunshine and amazing Crescent Lake. Rolling hills, trees as far as the eye can see…you won’t find a better office or cubicle than a summer in Maine.
Be the Difference: Camp counselors instantly become role models for campers. Every moment is an opportunity to form a lifelong memory, whether funny or poignant. What you do matters, and that’s the best feeling of all.
Lifelong Friendships: Camp is a unique environment because it’s the ultimate team endeavor. Counselors are surrounded by people who are like-minded in so many ways and come with a similar appetite for adventure. On camp departure day counselors have a network of peers that extends from coast to coast (and into other countries!)
Leadership: Camp is genuine, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. Counselors are also guiding campers all day, every day. Getting to a level of comfort while leading translates into confidence in so many other areas of your life.
Unplug: Camp is the easiest place to look up and live in the moment. You have meaningful conversations and form amazing relationships. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have tons of ‘Gram-worthy’ pictures from the summer. And every one of them will have a funny story to go along with the people and places included in them.
Learning: You learn so much about yourself at camp. You’re spending two months in a new environment and will be glad you embraced the opportunity. You’ll gain valuable new perspectives from interacting with campers and counselors from different walks of life. It’s truly incredible.