Camp Laurel South Blog

Bringing Away Life Skills

LS Life Skills 4For most campers, when the summer of 2014 draws to a close, there is always next summer to which they can look forward. For the oldest campers, however, farewell this summer means farewell forever to their years as campers. Even though a significant number of former campers choose to return to summer camp as staff members later, the experiences they gained as campers are unique to those years. Although it is difficult to say goodbye at the conclusion of their final summer, it is also a time when older campers reflect upon their camp years and truly take inventory of what camp has meant to them and will continue to mean as they proceed in life.

Older campers come away from camp having attained life skills that give them a distinct advantageLS Skillsas they move through their high school years and college becomes a focus. There is, for instance, respect for tradition. College campuses, like resident camps, are built on traditions that help define them.  Former campers understand the importance of their role in these traditions by creating experiences that are both memorable and worthwhile.

Former campers know how to show spirit and to live in the moment as well. At camp, campers are sensitive to the fact that their time at camp each summer is limited and they embrace each minute. Having already learned to comprehend that their camp years are limited to a specific timeline in their lives, former campers arrive on college campuses already understanding that their college years are much the same.

LS Life Skills 2There is also an emphasis on total involvement at camp. Summer camp is about creating an environment in which campers feel encouraged to try new things and to push their level of comfort each summer. In the safety of a setting that emphasizes inclusion, campers learn to understand that diversity is key to success. It takes many types of people and talents coming together to make camp the beloved place that it is in the hearts of the campers. With such an understanding, campers tend to get to know and befriend individuals who they might not otherwise have taken the time to get to know in a setting that does not facilitate similar ideals.  Having been submerged in such a culture for several summers, campers are well equipped for the transition from home to college life after several summers at camp. They also tend to be somewhat open- minded when it comes to new things and experiences.

Older campers also come away from camp as leaders. Whether they have led fellow campers in an activity or helped mentor and lead younger campers in their later camp years, leadership is another quality that is rigorously promoted and embraced at sleepaway camp.

Campers also learn everyday life skills at sleepaway camp as they spend several weeks away fromLS Life Skills 3home each summer and make decisions for themselves. Making healthy eating decisions, for instance, is an important skill that children learn at camp. Campers also learn how to juggle multiple commitments at once, such as having a role in a camp show while simultaneously playing on a sports team. They co-habitate daily with several other campers and learn how to maximize their living space.

Clearly, those campers who will say goodbye to camp at the conclusion of the summer are bringing away far more than fun memories of a place where they spent their childhood summers. They’re bringing away experiences that translate into life far beyond camp.

 

The Fun Never Ends!

i-sMcgKX3-M[3]We may be heading down the home stretch, but there’s still a ton of fun left to be had in the 2014 summer!  Tonight is our 4th Annual Moose Bowl.  The Rangeley men will battle it out on the field, displaying athletic prowess along with great Laurel South sportsmanship.  The entire camp will be involved:  from the tailgate cookout dinner to the campers performing the Star Spangled Banner (with campers’ rockets launched at the conclusion) to the t-shirt slingshots and halftime dance show.  This event truly has become one of Laurel South’s favorite traditions.

i-QqbM39S-X2[3]Tomorrow night will be our presentation of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with Thoroughly Modern Millie taking the stage on Friday.  Sandwiched in between will be our annual excursion to Funtown USA.

We may have just a few days left, but we’re going to have as much fun as we can.  The fun never ends at Laurel South!

How Quickly a Session Can Fly

i-JZjNqfW-M It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming everyone back to our summer home, and yet here we are, gearing up for the final week and a half of the second session.  It’s already been an unbelievable season.  Intercamp games and tournaments are still in full swing.  We even had our first Paddle Board Intercamp today!  It was very cool!  Spirit Days was another huge success.  In the end, the winner was…Laurel South!  The debut of the Culinary Center has been amazing!

i-VSdgW8Q-MWe will be jam-packed with even more incredible events coming up:  Tomorrow’s Carnival and Camper Variety Show, two Theater productions (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Thouroughly Modern Millie), the 4th Annual Moose Bowl, Funtown, Final Social, Banquet, Closing Ceremonies…the list goes on.  The action never ends at Laurel South!!!

5 Minutes at Camp

StopwatchWe 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 Conductorrhythm 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.

 

Trips and Spirit Days

i-9j6VSH2-X2[1]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, DSC_0123no 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!

The Close of Another Best Summer Ever

dsc_0001-2It 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 dsc_0002-3“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.

Excitement Fills the Air

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.  i-6NKPk26-LThere 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.

The fun never ends in Casco!

Second Session Off and Running…

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.

i-vF9WpRz-MActivities, 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!

8 Things that Are Quintessentially Summer Camp

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.

  1. LS Quint 2      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.
  2.       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.
  3.       Sing Alongs—Sure, karaoke is a popular activity for get togethers. But there is nothing LS quint 5more 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.
  4.       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.
  5.       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.
  6. LS quint 4      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.
  7.       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.
  8.       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.








Second Session Kicks Off

DSC_0023-2-M[38] 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.

DSC_0039-M[38]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!!!

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