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 CIT’s departed for their white water rafting trip. They’ve checked in – everyone’s having a ball! Our 5th Grade Day Trip to Aquaboggan was today as well. Activities are in full swing. From the Ballfields 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, and we’re excited for our Drive-In Movie tonight. Tomorrow is our first “S” Day. Saco and Kineo will head to Splashtown, the 7th Graders will spend the afternoon at Seacoast Fun Park, and Baxter and Allagash will have their awesome annual Beach Party. The good times just keep coming. What a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!
As the digital age in which we live seems to be accelerating, it’s easy to dismiss traditions that are not technology focused, such as summer camp. There is an argument to be made, however, for why summer camp is more important than ever for that very reason. There is a lot to be said for effort. While technology has done much to simplify our lives and make life more efficient than ever, it requires less and less effort from users. Increasingly, people are shying away from tasks that can’t be accomplished within a few keystrokes. Effort, however, not only requires certain qualities, it facilitates them as well. Effort requires energy. Energy, by definition, is the mental or physical strength that allows individuals to accomplish goals. Without physical or mental strength, energy cannot be generated. Without energy, there cannot be effort. Without effort, goals cannot be achieved. There are several very strong keywords to success linked together in those few sentences: effort, energy, strength, goals, accomplishment. At the very least, there is an implied relationship in the linking of these words. In such a sense, using technology to “accomplish” goals is merely a façade. In essence, users are not “accomplishing” anything. They’re merely led through a series of tasks to something that has already been completed for them in order to make their lives easier.
In “unplugging,” summer camp essentially provides campers with the opportunity to control the outcome of their summer by requiring legitimate effort to accomplish goals. Perfecting a tennis serve cannot be done with a few clicks of a mouse. Pressing the “Return” key won’t finish a ceramics project. Communicating with friends is more than logging into an Instagram account. Campers must engage in their camp environment.
When given a challenge at summer camp, they can’t simply skip to the head of the class by typing a search into Google. They must apply their knowledge to come up with a solution. When solving a problem involves more than one camper, they must communicate in order to ultimately come to a consensus about which solution is the best and why. In short, they must apply themselves. Application of oneself not only requires, effort, energy, and strength, it generates them. Campers see firsthand the rewards of hard work. They not only learn how to legitimately achieve goals but to set them as well. They gain a better understanding of the reality of achievement. It requires work, a sharp mind, and the ability to communicate—lifelong skills that form the foundation for success.
Beyond the mental agility that children gain from summer camp, there is the literal aspect of activity. Children move around at camp…all day. It’s very easy in a technology laden world, where so many aspects of daily life have become virtual, to be complacent. The human body naturally preserves energy whenever possible. Summer camp showcases the payoff of physical effort on a daily basis by producing tangible results of campers’ efforts through sports instruction and competition as well as hobby programs. Camper self-confidence grows as the products of effort are realized.
Summer camp is not merely a break from technology for campers. It’s a reminder that life is best realized outside of technology.
Oh, what a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!! It was another 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 back 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, bonding with their cabin mates and counselors.
Today is Moose Stomp Day. Each cabin will have the chance to Bumper Tube, play some exciting, team building games with our incredible Adventure Staff, chill at the Downeast Lodge with snow cones, take photos for the end of the year Camper Books and getting to know each other even better. Of course tonight will be our Opening Ceremony Council Fire. Tomorrow is our first “A” Day. Each camper will have an individualized schedule, and camp will be in full swing. The action is nonstop at Laurel South, and we are so excited to be back!!!
Our Staff Orientation is well underway as we get ready for Camper Arrival this Thursday! We can hardly wait. Camp looks amazing and we’re so excited to see you soon! The new Mastercrafts Pro Stars are set; the Fields are lined; the Courts are ready; the Art Studios are filled with supplies; the brand new Culinary Studio is spectacular; our Ponies and Horses are trained; the Cabins look amazing; the new girls’ cabin, Eastport, is done and looks awesome. All we’re missing now is the most amazing campers anywhere!! Thursday will be here before you know it. We can’t wait to see you soon!
School is FINALLY over! The weather is warm. It’s summer. But as a camper, you know that it’s never REALLY summer until you get to camp, and in just one more week, you’ll be there. The closer arrival day gets, the more you replay what you know is about to happen in your head. There are little signs every year that mark that day to which you’ve been counting down for several LOOOONNNNGGG months. But it’s most definitely summer when you know this is about to happen…
Your parents will take you to a meeting place for a bus or plane ride to camp, or maybe they’re driving you to camp themselves. The trip to camp will seem 10X longer than it actually is because you just want to get there.
Your mom will most definitely cry when she says goodbye and assures you she’ll see you on Visiting Day. You’re so excited you can hardly stand it, but maybe you’ll cry a little too just so that she doesn’t feel bad.
As soon as you pull into camp, you’ll start looking for your camp friends. Maybe they’ll spot you first. No matter who finds whom, you’ll run and hug. After hugs all around with your friends, you’ll also hug your favorite returning counselors and staff members.
You’ll meet your cabin mates (if you don’t already know them) and your new counselors, who are every bit as excited as you that you’re finally at camp!
You’ll spend the rest of the day cheering, singing and laughing with your friends. This is just day 1, and the entire summer is ahead of you. But it’s definitely summer because all of this happened, just as you knew it would.
A chuckle-worthy camp confession recently spotted on Pinterest: “My wrists did not see sunlight all summer because of the bracelets.” Anyone who has ever attended or worked at a sleepaway camp is all too familiar with the “bracelet tan.” Of the thousands of camps across America, there is not an Arts & Crafts area that is not well stocked with beads, lanyard, skeins of embroidery floss, paracord, rubber bands and just about anything else that can be turned into a bracelet. Bracelets are BIG at camp. They’re not merely wearable art. They’re a symbol of friendship. Few campers or staff actually keep the bracelets they make for themselves. Instead they exchange them with friends and other special people at camp. Although people have been making friendship bracelets since ancient times, they have become a camp tradition. It’s fun to conjure memories of a special person with a glance at one’s wrist.
The act of making the bracelets is almost as pleasurable as the bracelets themselves. Friendship bracelets are also easy to make, and campers of all ages easily catch onto the various ways of braiding and weaving materials into fashionable designs. Friendship bracelets also appeal equally to both boys and girls. The fact that making bracelets takes very little concentration makes them the perfect social craft. It’s easy to interact with others while making bracelets at camp. Bracelet making is the perfect conversation opportunity and bonding activity.
The row of bracelets is not just camp fashion, it’s a storyboard of the summer that is unique to every individual at camp. It represents who they met during the summer and the special moments that have been committed to memory. One the best things about friendship bracelets is finding them tucked away long after the summer has ended, and having a moment to remember the summer and the people and stories behind each bracelet.
Campers: June is finally here and you’re about to head off to camp for the summer. Whether this is your first summer or your seventh, it’s completely normal to be a whole lot excited and even a little bit nervous. This just HAS to be the best summer EVER…as in epic! But do you ever find yourself a little bit confused about how to make that happen? Here are a few ideas to help you out as you get ready for camp.
Make new friends
Of course your old friends are amazing. That’s why they’re your friends. But new friends are pretty great too. Make it a point to say ‘hello’ to people and introduce yourself to those you don’t know. Talk to other campers to find out what you have in common besides camp. Show support for other campers at activities.
Get involved in camp activities
There are so many awesome things to do at camp. Take advantage of the opportunity to get involved in them. Don’t just rely on favorites for your summer fun. Try some new things too. You’ll find that if you go to each activity—even those you don’t love—with a positive attitude and get involved, camp is even more fun.
Show your camp spirit
Camps rely on their campers to create a fun, energetic environment by showing their camp spirit. There’s a reason you count down the months and days each year until it’s time for camp and why YOUR camp is the BEST camp. Don’t be shy about showing it at camp.
Be your best self
Camp is the most fun for everyone when campers are positive, energetic, open and inclusive. There’s no need to make it like school where only certain types of people hang around together. If someone in your bunk or at your activity is shy, go out of your way to include them and take a leadership role in introducing them to others. If your friends try to say negative things about other people, change the subject or reply with a positive. Encourage others at activities, particularly those who struggle or who fear being made fun of. The more fun that everyone has together, the better camp is!
Keep an open mind
Sometimes, things at summer camp don’t go quite how you expected. Think before you react. Don’t let one bad activity, conversation or even day ruin your whole summer. Remember, it’s just one thing out of thousands that happen over the summer. Rather than dwelling on that one thing, shake it off and move on. If you do, you probably won’t even remember it by the end of the summer.
You’ve scored an amazing summer job at a sleepaway camp and the summer is so close that you can practically taste the s’mores, smell the camp air and hear your campers laughing. But before you can head off for the summer of your life, you have to pack. Packing can be a daunting task for first time camp staff. Even if your camp supplies a packing list, it’s hard to determine what you may be able to leave behind, if packing space is at a premium, and what you absolutely must have. Here is a brief rundown of those items that camp staff traditionally believe are essential.
If you pack these items, you are in good shape….
You’re working at a summer camp, and “outdoors” is an operative word in your upcoming summer. In fact, you’ll spend the majority of your day outside. Applying sunscreen often and generously insures that you do not find yourself very red and uncomfortable at the end of a sunny day and protects your skin from the potential long term effects of the sun’s rays.
Heat plus a lot of activity equals the need to stay hydrated. Whether or not your camp provides water, it’s a good idea to take a water bottle that can be refilled several times throughout the day. It’s also environmentally friendly by reducing the use of disposable cups.
Several pairs of shoes for all types of weather
Athletic shoes are essential. Multiple pairs, if you have them, are ideal. Most traditional sports oriented camps do not allow staff to wear flip-flops or open toed shoes for activities that are not water related. It’s simply unsafe in an athletic environment. So one or two pairs for water-related activities and days off are sufficient. A pair of rain boots or galoshes is always a good idea.
Bunk/Cabin games (Jacks, puzzle games, etc.)
These activities help facilitate communication with campers, and are so much fun while in the bunk or cabin during resting periods or rainy days. Some items are not allowed in bunks or cabins, however, so be sure you check with your camp to make sure that games and other activity items are permitted.
Some camps provide bedding. Other camps require staff members to bring their own bedding. If your camp requires you to bring bedding, it is a good idea to bring a thick blanket or comforter in addition to a thin one. Yes, it’s summer. But most camps are in rural mountainous regions, and it sometimes gets cool at night, especially at the very beginning and toward the end of the summer.
Lots of socks and under garments
A saying is among camp staff who return year after year, you can never have too many of either!
Athletic type shorts and pants are best for moving through daily activities, but it ultimately comes down to whatever you feel the most comfortable wearing.
A couple of sweatshirts or sweaters
Again, yes it’s summer, but the evenings can get a bit chilly.
Some colorful shirts and shorts (especially in your camp’s colors)
Camps often divide staff and campers into teams for activities by colors. So it’s a good idea to pack a rainbow of colors so that you are prepared to show team spirit when the time comes.
A few plain white t-shirts/tanks that can be dyed or altered for costume purposes…
You just never know at summer camp.
A bag for laundry
Eventually, you’re going to need to do your laundry at camp. It helps to have a laundry bag for easy transport to and from the laundry. (Many camps provide laundry bags- so check first.)
A couple of pairs are a good idea. There is a lot of movement at camp, and sunglasses are an item that is commonly lost, forgotten or broken.
Ask yourself, what will you be doing at camp? Will you need some type of special equipment that you need to bring. If so, make sure you leave room for it when you are packing.
Most camps are within a reasonable distance to a shop from which these types of items can easily be replenished. So you usually only need enough of these to last the first couple of weeks, if packing space is at a premium.
If you stuff your suitcase or duffle with these items, you’ll be in good shape for your first summer at camp. If you’re concerned that you don’t have room in your luggage for all of these items, call your camp to see if staff members are permitted to ship items to camp.
Whether you’re a new or returning staff member who is preparing to work at camp this summer, the decibel level of those first few days at camp are always a bit above what you anticipate. Of course, we hear noise every day. But camp noise is different than other noise. A camp staff member once relayed a memory of her first summer at camp. She recalled the shock of the day the campers arrived. ‘It was suddenly very loud,’ she said. ‘They don’t prepare you for that at orientation. Then again, there is probably no way they could.’ She is right. There is no way to describe what several hundred excited children who have been waiting for a moment for ten months sounds like. It’s certainly not noise pollution, though. It much more closely resembles environmentally friendly noise. It’s the noise of excitement, happiness and anticipation.
A strange phenomenon happens with environmentally friendly noise. You not only expect it, but anticipate hearing it every day. You don’t even realize how much you look forward to camp noise until the end of camp. When the buses pull away on the last day of camp, the quietness that settles over the campus is one of the saddest moments of the summer. You realize the kids are gone, and the summer really is over. Even after you return home, you find yourself wishing to hear the sounds that defined your summer–bugle calls or bells to signal daily activities, constant cheering and laughter, mealtimes with hundreds of other people. Everyday noise just seems like noise pollution.
Campers love their camps. They’re green, picturesque and they often feature facilities for just about any activity a kid can dream up. One thing campers also love, however, are camp trips. Camp trips are a lot like school field trips — only better. Way better! They’re a special time away from the daily routine. Campers get to board buses with their friends and go off on an adventure outside of the camp environment. Yes, playing by the camp waterfront with friends is a great way to spend a summer. But taking in a baseball game, visiting a local amusement park, or going bowling with them adds an extra element to the camp experience because it allows campers to do normal “friend things” with some very close friends who they often only get to see during the summer.
Rites of passage are a big part of camp and trips are among those rites. While all campers enjoy some of the same trip destinations throughout the summer, other places are reserved for campers of certain ages. In this respect, trips become a way for campers to mark time in their camp experience. An exclusive trip makes that specific summer unique because it’s the only summer a camper may go to a specific place.
Camp trips also help campers put their summer camp experience into perspective. Sure, they could do just about anything they do on a camp trip without having gone to camp, but doing them at camp makes them part of camp. And makes them very special. And very fun! The memory of having done those things at camp makes these excursions even more special, which is likely why there is always a tinge of excitement in the air on trip day.