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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!

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!

Anatomy of a Summer Camp

Summer camp is often thought of as a whole, a single place where campers convene for several weeks each summer.  Few think of summer camp in the context of its smaller parts.  Yet, for campers, the special memories that make up “summer camp” in their minds are not merely the product of a whole, but a collection of memories related to its various parts.  The overall experience of summer camp not only comprises a special place in the heart of campers, but the memories connected to favorite spots on campus.  What are these parts, and why would do campers find them so dear?  They’re places that, without, summer camp just wouldn’t be summer camp.

Cabins/Bunks: Some camps call them cabins.  Other camps call them bunks.  What they have in common is that they are private spaces that a handful of campers at each camp have in common.  They live in their bunks, sleep in their bunks, and attend activities with their bunks.  Every bunk has its own playlist, inside jokes, special nicknames for each other, and unique games that it enjoys.

Dining Hall/Dining Room: At home, the dining room is just a place for campers to eat. But at camp, it’s such an important place that it’s spelled with capital letters.  The camp dining facility is not only a place where the camp convenes for meals, but a place full of song and cheer.

Lake: The lake is the hub of a summer camp waterfront.  It’s the place where campers go to swim, boat,waterski, tube, and socialize.  It’s so special that, at most camps, every camper goes there at least once a day. Lots of friendships are formed and memories are made on the docks and beaches of the camp lake.

Flagpole/Campfire: Every camp has a special place where the entire camp convenes in the morning and/or evening to officially kick off or end the day.  This is where sports and competition wins are celebrated and special occasions are marked, and each camp does something just a little bit different to inflict personality into its assembly location to make it a memorable place for campers.

Fieldhouse/Rec Hall/Playhouse: This is another facility that goes by a different name from camp tocamp, but is home to memories of camp shows, sing-alongs, athletic events, evening activities, and just about a million other activities.  For all intents and purposes, it’s a campus all-purpose building, the place where the entire camp gathers to celebrate activities that are as indispensable to the camp experience as to the camp itself.

Of course, as merely buildings, these locations make up just a fraction of summer camp campuses.  But they’re so full of literally decades of memories that the spirit of the camp emanates from them, and every camper has a nearly endless list of memories that involve them.  Not just summer camp, but the anatomy of it is essential to the summer camp in the making of camp memories.

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!

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