We focus a lot on how much happens at camp over the course of the summer, but the amount of activity that takes place in just 5 minutes on any given day is mind blowing to anyone who is not familiar with camp. Five minutes at summer camp is like a symphony: many individual components come together at the same time to create a single, enjoyable experience. In addition, each component is unique, yet critical, to the overall piece. In just five minutes at camp…
A soccer team may score a goal to win a championship game while play rehearsal takes place on the stage and, at the waterfront, swim instruction is happening. In arts & crafts, campers are busy putting the finishing touches on projects as a batter on the softball team steps onto first base and a volleyball is spiked over the net. A group of campers is learning how to sail on the lake as a group of paddle boarders make their way across the water. A camper does her first giant swing on the parallel bars in gymnastics just as another reaches the top of the climbing wall while yet another makes his way across the high ropes course. It’s a 3 on 3 tournament on the basketball courts and a group of campers are learning how to improve their tennis serve just as a camper finds the back of the net at lacrosse. A team captain just called a time out at roller hockey and the finishing touches are being put onto some hip hop choreography in dance. A group of mountain bikers pass a group of runners and two teams are facing off in flag football. It’s the bottom of the 9th on the baseball field and the game is tied while the final two players in an intense game of gaga face off as their fellow campers cheer them on. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies wafts from the cooking studios and campers in photography take nature shots as a small group of campers fishes nearby.
And it’s not just the action that takes place in any given five minutes at camp that creates the rhythm of summer, it’s the interaction. As all of these activities are happening, campers and staff members are talking, laughing, learning and cheering. In the same five minutes at camp, friendships are formed and new skills learned. Traditions begin and are repeated. Campers try something new for the first time as well as accomplish them for the first time after a summer of trying. In five minutes at camp, campers gain life skills by becoming more confident and more self-reliant. In just five minutes at camp, memories are made. Like a conductor, memories bring all of those activities together to create the image of summer camp that campers replay for a lifetime.
What an amazing “S” Day we had yesterday! The majority of camp traveled to Canobie Lake Park. We had an awesome time! The rides, the games, the food and, most importantly, the time spent with our cabinmates and counselors couldn’t be beat. Meanwhile, our incredible group of CIT’s had a Magical Mystery Bus Tour that took them to exciting destinations such as Hacker’s Hill, Quaker Ridge, Old Orchard Beach and Old Port, Portland. They had a wonderful time seeing the beauty of Maine while reminiscing about all the memories created over their lengthy camp careers!
When we went to breakfast on Tuesday morning, no one had any idea that Spirit Days would be breaking. Our CIT’s decided that the breakfast break would stun everyone, and boy were they right! For the next two days, the Blue Space Rangers and Green Cowboys will square off in the friendliest of competition. The ball fields, waterfront and all areas in between will be filled with Laurel South Spirit and Pride. At the end of the two day contest, we will be reunited as one, because, as the cheer goes, “Blue and Green are one big team!” At the conclusion of our Closing Ceremonies, we will have the most amazing fireworks display in all of Maine!! What an awesome way to end Spirit Days!
It seems that just yesterday the blog subject at hand was the anticipation of the campers’ arrival at camp. As usual, though, we blinked and now it’s August. Another summer is coming to a close over the next couple of weeks. This is the time of year when campers and staff alike begin reflecting over their summer. They mentally check off their bucket lists for this summer and already begin composing new ones for next summer. They begin making those final efforts to do those camp things they love most at least one more time. They take stock of those special moments—the ones that will forever define the summer of 2014. At the end of the day, there are always a million reasons why this summer was better than any other. Something was always bigger or better or even brand new. Your circle of friends has always grown just a little bit larger. You finally had the chance to go on that camp trip or participate in that camp activity to which you’ve been looking forward to for years. Even though the summer never seems long enough, it’s always mind-blowing to realize just how much was accomplished in such a short span of time. Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of activities that take place at sleepaway camp that makes every summer seem like the best summer ever.
When one weighs the summer as a whole, the good memories are prevalent and the word “amazing” comes to mind far more than the words “didn’t love it.” Upon considering everything that you accomplished, it’s impossible to be disappointed, even if you can’t check all your pre-summer goals off your list. At camp, especially at the end of the summer, it’s much easier to focus on everything you’ve done more than everything you’ve not.. The feeling of accomplishment is inevitably satisfying in a way that reminds you just why you come to camp anyway. There’s no other place in the world where you have the opportunity to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. Sure, you also come to relax, enjoy the rural setting, and spend time with your camp friends. But you also come with an agenda—specifically, a camp agenda of things that cannot be accomplished anywhere – or with anyone – else. These lists are often lengthy and filled with many more aspirations than can reasonably be achieved during a single summer. But the comforting thought that almost everyone brings home from camp is that there’s always next summer…and the promise of another best summer ever.
Our 8th and 9th Graders returned yesterday from their trips to Acadia National Park and White Water Rafting on the Kennebec River. They had a blast! As great as it was, though, we’re all so happy to have the entire Laurel South family reunited in Casco. We’re back in full-gear with programming, and all around camp excitement fills the air. There are incredible dishes being created in our brand new Culinary Center, the Athletics Instruction has been awesome, the creativity shown at the Arts’ Centers and Theater are second to none, and Crescent Lake is always a hotbed of activity. Our first “S” Day was a hit: the Saco and Kineo campers had an amazing time at Splashtown USA , the 7th Graders enjoyed Seacoast, and the Baxter/Allagash Beach party was a huge success!
Roger and Dagni had a fabulous time at dinner last night with our 7-Year Club members. They had a wonderful meal while reminiscing about the campers’ experiences over the past 7, 8, and even 9 years! Where have the years gone?
Tonight is Counselor Hunt, a favorite Evening Program and long-time Laurel South tradition.
What an amazing start to the 2014 camp season!!! The campers may have arrived less than a week ago, but the action has been nonstop. Our 8th Graders left this morning for their awesome three day trip to Acadia National Park and our CITs departed for their White Water Rafting Trip. They’ve checked in, and everyone is having a ball! Our 5th Grade Day Trip to Aquaboggan was today as well.
Activities, sports and programs are in full-swing. From the Ball Fields and Courts to the A&C Center and Riding Rings, the new Culinary Studio to the Waterfront, the sounds of happy campers ring out everywhere. Last night was our first Social, an we’re excited for our Drive-In Movie tonight. Tomorrow is our first “S” Day. Saco and Kineo will head to Splashtown USA, the 7th Graders will spend the afternoon at Seacoast Fun Park, and Baxter and Allagash will have their annual Beach Party.
The good times just keep coming. What a beautiful day in the state of Maine!
It’s hard to believe that another summer is almost half over. It seems like just yesterday that campers were arriving, excited for another summer. Time passes so quickly at summer camp that it’s sometimes impossible to not miss some things. But there are certain things that, no matter how busy, chaotic, or crazy things get at camp, remind us of camp and are a big part of what it’s all about.
Campfires—Every camp’s campfire has a unique significance to it. Campfire traditions, songs, and activities vary from camp to camp but one theme is consistent from camp to camp: the campfire has a sacred relevance and, as such, is a very special event at camp. So special, in fact, that the campfire is symbolic of summer camp itself. The fire embodies camp life, and the smell of burning embers raises an immediate reminder of sylvanian settings in which camps are located.
S’mores—What’s a campfire without s’mores? Anyone and everyone who has ever been to camp craves the gooey delight of melted chocolate and marshmallows between two graham crackers. S’mores are so distinct to camp that biting into one instantly harkens memories of camp.
Sing Alongs—Sure, karaoke is a popular activity for get togethers. But there is nothing more harmonious than an entire camp—counselors too!—singing their camp’s favorite tunes together. Camp sing alongs are more than just time spent together singing songs, however. They’re a way of bringing everyone together to celebrate the place that has brought them all together.
Cabins—As the saying goes, ‘If only walls could talk…’ And, oh, the stories so many summer camp cabins could tell. Cabins are more than just places where campers and their counselors sleep at night. Cabins are facilities in which campers become families. They are also places in which the vast size of sleepaway camps shrink to an intimate setting in which friendships are nurtured and memories are made. Each cabin family is unique, with its own jokes, songs, traditions, etc.
Arts & Crafts—According to the American Camp Association, Arts & Crafts is one of the five most popular activities at camp, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want to spend a portion of each day in an area stocked with beads, lanyard, glitter, paint, glue, markers, scissors, and just about any other craft supply one can dream up? The possibilities are endless in Arts & Crafts. The relaxing atmosphere gives campers opportunity to decompress and reflect while still being social. Arts & Crafts is an activity that allows campers to spend time with their friends.
Bugle Calls/Bells—There has to be some way to move campers through their program day at camp. Whether it’s bugles or bells, campers know instantly what each unique sound is telling them to do from waking up in the morning to turning out the lights at night, and everything in between.
Camp Shows—Those who are not familiar with camp may wonder what makes camp shows different from other types of shows. Anyone who has ever been involved in a production that goes from auditions to performance complete with full sets and makeup in a week or less knows that this is precisely what makes camp shows a camp entity all unto their own.
Crazy Wardrobe Choices—We mean C-R-A-Z-Y—as in more is definitely more when it comes to showing spirit or “dressing up” for a special camp occasions. In fact, camp is probably the only place at which one is complimented for arriving at a function wearing body paint and/or temporary tattoos, bright colors, a tutu, crazy sunglasses or hats, a wig (or two) and mismatched socks.
Oh, what a beautiful day in the state of Maine!! It was an amazing Arrival Day. The weather was gorgeous, camp looked great, and, by the end of the day, the entire Laurel South family was reunited!
Old friendships were rekindled and new ones were forged. All around camp you could see and hear how excited everyone was to be at their summer home. We all gathered for our traditional, first night cookout dinner followed by exciting Evening Programs. At the end of the day, each cabin wound down, spending time bonding with their cabinmates and counselors.
Today is Moose Stomp Day. Each cabin will have the chance to bumper-tube, play team building games with our incredible Adventure Staff, chill at the Downeast Lodge with snow cones, audition for our two theater shows, make S’mores at the Outpost, take photos for Camper Books and get to know each other even better. Tonight is our Opening Ceremony Council Fire.
Tomorrow is our first “A” Day and camp will be in full swing. The action is nonstop at Laurel South and we’re so excited to be back!!!
What an amazing First Session we had!! The campers and staff built friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime. We only wish it didn’t go by so fast. While we are sad to see the First Session come to an end, we are so pumped to welcome our Second Session campers tomorrow! The staff is spending the day setting up cabins and planning awesome activities for the session. Get ready for the summer of a lifetime!! We can’t wait to see you tomorrow!!
In their book True North, Bill George and Peter Sims challenge readers to examine the qualities and influences that have made them great leaders through a series of motivational chapters complemented by interactive surveys. In the survey that follows the first chapter, readers are asked: “During your early years, which people had the greatest impact on you?” This is a very significant question to anyone who either attended camp as a child or who works at a camp as an adult.
It only takes a single summer to influence a camper for a lifetime, but the majority of campers attend summer camp for seven summers or more, which exponentially increases the chances of camp counselors having a lasting impact on their lives. Add the community environment of camp in which campers and staff live together 24 hours a day, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine that each camper’s life is not greatly impacted by at least one member of the camp staff. Such a conclusion is evident by the amount of former campers who state the influence of former staff members as one of the primary reasons they chose to return to camp as camp counselors themselves.
George and Sims challenge readers to “discern passion through life experience.” Such an intense task puts the role of camp counselors into a new perspective. Not only do counselors have the ability to greatly impact a child’s life, but to inspire passion in them through the experiences they provide at camp. This is an interesting concept because it is not one about which most camp staff tend to reflect throughout the summer. Camp is a temporary environment that is structured with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Combine this with the fast pace of camp, thinking tends to steer in the opposite direction. Yet, many campers –and even counselors– are so influenced by their camp experiences that they take away a passion for camp as well as the traditions and values they are taught there.
When examined from such a perspective, the role of camp counselors becomes so much more than a summer job, whether a staff member spends one summer or many summers at camp. When counselors pack their bags each summer and head off to camp, they are taking on the tremendous responsibility of inspiring children to become so deeply invested in the camp experience. It’s neither a small nor insignificant challenge. Yet the hurdles of living up to such high expectations is exactly what draws so many camp counselors to their summer camp roles each summer—and what makes them return in subsequent summers. In this regard, the campers have as much influence and inspire as much passion in the counselors as the counselors do to them. The two roles are interdependent.
It’s easy to go through one’s daily life without slowing enough to properly contemplate the potential influence each of us has over others. But when the concept of influence is examined through the perspective of camp, it’s very easy to see how little time is needed to influence someone for a lifetime.
Yesterday was our final “S” Day, and Funtown USA certainly lived up to its name! The entire camp enjoyed the rides, the games, the food, and, of course, time spent creating memories with friends. The next two days are our final Program Days of the session, filled with shows and exhibitions to demonstrate amazing skills learned in just a few short weeks.
Just because we’re close to the end does not, for a moment, mean the fun is over. After our younger campers dazzled us with their performance of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, tonight is our older campers turn to wow us with their performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie. This will take place immediately after our Lobster, Steak and Veggie Lasagna Final Banquet.
And, Tomorrow is Moose Bowl Day! This 4th Annual all-camp event includes our awesome Tailgate Cookout Dinner, Sling Shot Tee-Shirt giveaways, Dance Performances and cheering for our favorite team. Our campers competing on the field will display their athletic talents while embodying the Laurel South spirit of sportsmanship! Go Rattle Snakes, Go Black Bears, Go Laurel South!!!