Camp Laurel South Blog

Author Archives: Camp Laurel South

Summer Flying By

How quickly the summer is flying by! Another Spirit Day has come and gone and it was a great one. In the end, all we remember is the fun of the competition. We have gotten right back into programming. Intercamp games and tournaments have been awesome. Camping trips are going strong all over the state of Maine. From tennis to rocketry to waterskiing, horseback riding, climbing and lacrosse, our campers are doing it all.

Everyone is excited for tomorrow’s 2nd in-camp “S” Day. From the elective morning to the Camper Variety Show to the famous Laurel South Carnival, the day couldn’t be more exciting.

Our campers have never looked happier. They’re participating, making friends, acquiring new skills, developing existing talents and trying new things. Everything’s fantastic in 04015!

Spirit Day 2013

Tuesday started like any other day at camp. Morning activities were going great. All over camp, the sounds of Laurel South spirit filled the air. Just before lunch, Roger called for a camp meeting. As he made his way through announcement, a roar erupted from the lake. The CIT’s, dressed in Blue and Green, announced the arrival of another amazing Spirit Day!!!

For the next day and a half, the Blue Knights and Green Vikings will battle it out in the friendliest of competitions. We’ll play hard, but never lose hold of the fact that even during Spirit Days, we are one big Laurel South family.
Once Spirit Days conclude, we have so much to look forward to: the 4th of July, the action on beautiful Crescent Lake, intercamp games and tournaments, The Lion King & Hairspray. We can’t wait to keep the action going in Casco!

First Week Finishes with a Bang

It’s hard to believe we’ve been at camp for over a week. “Time flies when you’re having fun,” and that couldn’t be more true in Casco, Maine. Our program days are filled with action. Basketball, Tennis, Climbing, Sailing, Lacrosse, Soccer, Crafts, Ceramics, Fitness, Gymnastics and more. Nights are filled with amazing evening activities and special events. Our 7th, 8th and 9th graders all returned form incredible overnight camping trips. We’ve had our first two S Days (in and out of camp) and they were phenomenal. The fun never stops, and it is always a beautiful day in the state of Maine!

An Amazing First Week of Camp!


It’s been an amazing start to another magical summer at Laurel South! Arrival Day couldn’t have been nicer as campers arrived from all over the country and world to rekindle existing friendship and plant the seeds for new ones. Friday was Moose Stomp Day. We chose our schedules for the summer, made s’mores at the Outpost, had individual and cabin pictures taken and enjoyed everyone’s company.

Our Opening Council Fire was incredible. Our “A” and “B” program days have been outstanding — you can feel the Laurel South Spirit from the Ballfields to the Waterfront to the Equestrian Center and our brand new Arts Center! Our 7th grade boys and girls had a blast in Camden. Our 9th graders are white water rafting on the Kennebec River and our 8th graders are camping at Acadia National Park. Our remaining campers are anticipating our first “S” day tomorrow. The action never stops in Casco, Maine!

Camp: Great Preparation for What Lies Ahead…

Camps in Maine offer many sports team opportunities. From in-camp competitions to games against other camps, youngsters learn important lessons about working together, overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. That’s pretty obvious.

Less obvious is that throughout each camp season – every day, in many ways – those lessons are being reinforced far from the athletic fields.

A cabin represents the ultimate “team.” From the first day of camp to the last, groups of boys and girls form bonds, create friendships and share experiences that make each individual stronger – and, ultimately, help the “team” succeed.

Cabin-mates learn to share many things. They share space in their cabins. They share games, books, “stuff” from home.

They share stories and experiences. They share their hopes and dreams (and disappointments). They share their time.

They learn to put the best interests of the group above themselves. They learn to compromise. When it’s time for the group to do something they have advocated for, they learn to make the most of that opportunity.

They learn to follow the directions of others. They also learn to lead.

They learn to move outside their comfort zone, trying things they’ve never done before. They learn to assess new situations, make quick decisions, and realize that actions have consequences. When things don’t go as expected, they take comfort in being surrounded by people who can help. Other times, they’re the ones providing assistance.

Campers learn to look ahead. There’s always something to plan for and be excited about. But there’s also the joy of looking back, reliving common experiences (many of which grow astonishingly, with each re-telling).

Over the course of a summer, boys and girls at camp learn what it means to live together. They learn the importance of trust, the power of common laughter, the exhilarating feeling of being part of a “team.”

And – though they don’t know it at the time – those lessons prepare them to be better siblings, roommates, co-workers and spouses, long after their summer camp “team” moves on.

Camp: Independence, Excitement, Fun…and Even Some Nerves

It’s that time of year.
Departure for camp draws ever closer.
Excitement builds in the household. And for a first-time camp parent, anxiety is normal.

It’s natural to worry about missing your child. Just remember, you’re not the first mom or dad to go through this experience. We’ve all said goodbye, choked back a tear and wondered, “What have I gotten myself into? What’s ahead?!”

This may be the first time your son or daughter isn’t around all the time. You won’t have a window into their life. You can’t wake them up in the morning, make breakfast, ask how the day went, tuck them into bed at night.

And that’s what the camp experience is all about!

It’s wonderful – and important – for your child to rely on other adults. To be in a controlled, worry-free environment where they are encouraged to take safe risks.

In fact, that’s the reason you decided to send your child to camp. You recognize the value of taking steps away from home, toward independence.

But that doesn’t make it any easier on you as a parent.

The first few days might feel strange. So here are a few things to keep in mind:

– Practice what you preach. As parents, we often tell our children that it’s okay to be nervous. We encourage them to try new things. The same goes for us. We need to embrace our anxiety, and give this new “the kids are away” idea a shot.

– Take time for yourself. Do things you always wanted to do, but never had long blocks of time for. Take a class. Learn a new sport. Check in with friends. Have a second “honeymoon” with your spouse.

– Seize the opportunity to experience the “empty nest” syndrome. Think what a breeze it will be years from now – when your child goes to college!

– Realize that your time apart will be valuable – to you and your child. A little healthy distance, for a little bit of time, will benefit everyone.

A tear after the last hug and wave at the bus and airport is normal. Even an angst-ridden first night at home while your “camper” is already fully immersed at camp is too be expected.

But remind yourself: Your child is thriving in an environment that is all their own! They are navigating the world of camp and making decisions away from Mom and Dad and being fueled with a new-found confidence. And of course, Visiting Day is just around the corner!

Bug Juice…Not Here!

The sugary drink made from mysterious powder – a fruit punch with no resemblance to real fruit – may be the only “food” generations of summer campers remember from their years in camp dining halls.

Today, parents from Camp Laurel and Laurel South are glad to hear that bug juice has gone the way of buggy whips.

Today too, campers are glad to drink water, 2% and skim milk, real lemonade and unsweetened iced tea. They also like having choices: fresh fruit, salad bars, homemade soups, grilled chicken. But they’re equally glad to see old standbys like chicken nuggets and make-your-own sundaes.

Kids today eat healthy. But they are still kids.

Menu planning at Camp Laurel and Laurel South is a constant balancing act. As children have grown more conscious of the right things to eat, we’ve evolved too. For example, we replaced canned peas with cut celery and carrot sticks (part of our popular veggie platters).

We offer barbecue chicken and fresh asparagus. Lemon chicken with brown rice. Turkey tacos with guacamole and corn chips. Baked chicken, matzo ball soup and knishes (Friday nights only!).

We’ve got multi-grain pancakes – most of the time. But we haven’t forgotten our “S Day breakfasts,” with chocolate chip and M&M pancakes.

There’s a 20-item salad bar, with 8 types of dressing. And a pasta bar. And a baked potato bar. And even a special smoothie bar for 2013!

Lewis (Camp Laurel) and Teddy (Laurel South) – our beloved chefs, whip up soups from scratch like corn and clam chowder, vegetable barley, chicken noodle, Italian lentil and cream of broccoli. But the sides of Saltines have been replaced with whole-grain crackers.

Canteen snacks are as anticipated as ever. We’ve added granola bars and healthy popcorn to the list.

Camp is still camp. If you sat with us for a meal, you’d be reminded in many ways of your own camp days and be impressed to find healthier options and variety.

But try as you might, you would not find one silver pitcher filled with bug juice.

The Backbone of The Laurel Camps…..Our Counselors

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner says that being a summer camp counselor was the most valuable job he ever had.

What a coincidence! Our counselors may be the most valuable part of the experience at Camp Laurel and Laurel South.

We’re very proud of our facilities and programs. We invest a lot of time, energy and resources into making them the best they can be.

But all that “stuff” means little without great people.

Counselors help create our camp community. They set the loving, caring tone that turns worries into wonder and strangers into life-long friends.

Counselors are parent figures, older siblings and role models, all rolled into one. They are problem-solvers, goal-setters and dream-makers – sometimes all at once.

Their creativity, empathy and passion provide the seeds for each child’s summer of growth.

With our counselors, we can do anything. We could drop them and our campers in a desert, or on a deserted island.

Everyone would have a great time.

Without our counselors, we’d be lost.

The Laurel Camps staff come from across the United States. They bring a broad range of experiences and expectations to Maine. Their diversity is one of their strengths – and ours.

Some are with us for a couple of years. They might move on to grad school, an internship or “real” job. When they do, they carry the very important “people skills” that attracted them to us originally, and that they’ve honed during their time at Laurel and Laurel South.

Other counselors make camping their career. They are “lifers.” They are coaches on the collegiate and high school level. They become educators – in elementary, middle or high school (even universities) – and return every summer. They mentor other counselors, as well as campers. That too is one of our staff’s strengths.

We say with pride that we provide children with a lifetime of skills, confidence, friendships and memories. As Michael Eisner knows, it does all that for counselors too.

We look forward to introducing you to our superb 2013 staff in the coming months.

Lobster – A Maine Tradition!

At the Laurel Camps, our mascots are moose.
But as everyone in Maine knows, lobsters are as much a part of the state experience as moose.

The first record of Maine lobsters dates to 1605. Back in the day, they were caught by hand. Four-foot lobsters were common. The record seems to be a 12-pounder. That’s a lot of meat.

But they were considered “paupers’ food” – unfit for most people to eat.

By the late 1700s, as tastes evolved, boats with open holding wells on deck allowed live lobsters to be shipped. The lobster market grew.
Maine’s industry got another boost in 1843, when the first cannery was built in Eastport. As demand grew, so did technology. Wooden pots and special boats helped lobstermen broaden their range. Soon, they were hauling catches in deep water, far from shore.

But demand outpaced lobsters’ ability to reproduce. Inevitably they became smaller, and more scarce. With 3,000 full-time lobstermen working Maine’s waters, worries about extinction increased.

Regulations helped. The number of traps a lobsterman could set was reduced from 1200 to 800. The number of licenses was strictly controlled. Small lobsters, and females with eggs, must be thrown back.

The effect has been dramatic. Lobsters are now plentiful. In fact, last summer prices plunged – to the detriment of hard-working, independent lobstermen.

While you will only find lobster at Camp Laurel and Laurel South at our annual, end-of-summer Steak and Lobster Banquet, it is plentiful throughout the “207” state at lobster pounds, supermarkets, restaurants – even gas stations – all year long.

Put on that bib, crack those shells, and enjoy!

Camp – A World of Good

New Year’s is one of the best times of year. In the middle of winter, amid cold and snow, we look ahead to the summer ­ and camp. In just a few months (it always sneaks up on us!) the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and we in the camp world do something special: give children the gift of growth.

We’ll do it again this year. But this time we’re writing a New Year’s message in the very difficult days following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

When we heard the news, we reacted like everyone: with a combination of horror, dread, anger, and unspeakable sadness. The more we learned, the more intensely we felt those emotions. We think about Newtown every day, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Our feelings mirrored those of every parent. When you hear news like that, you feel an instinctive urge to circle the wagons. You feel a primal need to protect children, watch over them even more vigilantly than before, shield them from every potential harm that lurks in our world. But as a camp director (and as a parent), we know we shouldn’’t do that.

We feel it would be the wrong choice to never let our children out of our sight. We can’t hover constantly, and control their every move. We can’t smother them with a love so strong that they never grow up.
Camp is a place where children can ­ and do ­ grow. It’s a place where they feel comfortable, secure, and loved. It’s a place kids need.

Every year in the United States, more than 11 million boys and girls attend more than 12,000 summer camps. In woods and cabins, on lakes and rivers, these children develop strong friendships. Mentored by young (and older) adults, they take safe risks. They learn about camaraderie. They learn about traditions. They learn about sports, arts and the outdoors. They learn about themselves. They learn about life. They learn how to live.

In the difficult days after Newtown, it is those things ­ the promise of every summer, but especially this one ­ that provides such bright light.

Jem and Debbie           Roger and Dagni
Camp Laurel                Laurel South

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