Camp Laurel South Blog

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Crescent Lake: Like Nothing Else

I consider myself very fortunate to spend my summers at Laurel South on Crescent Lake. I remember thinking the name of the lake was something really special my first summer. Many of my favorite camp memories are traced back to the time spent in the water: jumping on the trampoline, passing a level in swim and waterskiing for the first time all rush through my head.

As I look back on those memories they come into a greater focus. I can picture one of my favorite counselors giving me instructions from the boat while I put on my skis. I can hear the lifeguard reminding my friends and I of the waterfront rules while she strapped on my life vest. I still feel nostalgic about getting out of the lake for the last time as a camper, wishing I had one more summer with the friends I grew up with.

It’s only in looking back now that I realize the magic of Crescent Lake is tied to the people as much as it is to the location. The waterski counselors were so excited when I first got up skis. My friends and counselors were always ready to have a great time. As a counselor now, it’s through that lens that I’m reminded of the magic of Crescent Lake.

Laurel South: My Summer Home

Before my first summer at Laurel South I was reminded of all the things my parents used to tell me: brush your teeth, try new things, make friends…As my bus ventured toward Casco I remembered my tour of the camp the year before. I thought about the activity selection form I completed, all the things we packed and sent, what the cabins were like. I couldn’t help but be excited (and a little bit nervous.) What I wasn’t ready for was how much Laurel South was going to impact the rest of life, and how quickly it would feel like my summer home.

Stepping off the bus I noticed the counselors cheering and smiling. It seemed like hundreds of them were there to welcome me! The energy that met the campers on that first day left a lifelong impression on me. Over the summers I spent at Laurel South, I realized the most important thing is the people. My summer connections gave me confidence, taught me about myself and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. (Not to mention that my counselors were always there to remind me to brush my teeth and encouraging me to try new things.)

Obviously, the best part of every summer is that camp is FUN! Each day is packed with swimming, songs, tennis, waterskiing, laughing, basketball, art and everything else Laurel South has to offer with the amazing backdrop of Crescent Lake. I’ll always cherish the memories created, the skills I learned and the friendships gained. And I’ll always love my summer home!

Moose Bowl: The Making of an All-Camp Tradition

On the surface, it seemed like a very easy thing.  About 10 years ago, some of our Rangeley men approached us with a simple request.  They wanted to compete…to play as hard as they could (within the rules of good sportsmanship) and try like heck to win.  Sounded simple enough.  Let’s have a big flag football game.  Anyone who wants to play can, and those who prefer not to, no problem!  We set up a combine and a draft, and the two teams (the Rattlesnakes and the Black Bears) would practice all session long for one big game!

For those of you who know Roger and Dagni, and those of you who have experienced “The Laurel South Way,” you know we wouldn’t come up with such a cool idea without finding a way for the entire camp to participate in some way. That was the tricky question: “So if the Rangeley boys are playing in the game, what will everyone else be doing?”

We brainstormed ideas and we added layers to the game until it truly became an all-camp tradition!  The festivities begin with an amazing Tailgate Cook-Out with music playing and footballs being tossed.  Once we get down to the field, campers sing the National Anthem, concluding with campers in our Rocketry program launching rockets into the air.  When Roger and Dagni call the captains to mid-field for the coin toss, our CIT captains are joined by their camp little brothers. Our halftime show is performed by campers in our dance program. During the game, groups are called for S’mores, tee-shirts are raffled off, dance parties break out between quarters, etc.  By the end of the evening, everyone feels connected to the experience!

We hope you enjoyed this little peak behind the curtain.  Up next:  A Tale of Two Shows:  a look back at both of our amazing camp plays!  Until then, it’s a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!

Spirit Days!!!

As long as Spirit Days has been a tradition at Laurel South, so too has the campers trying to predict the exact day and time that it will break. Every session of every summer, Roger brainstorms with the CITs to come up with just the perfect opportunity when no one will see it coming! And the larger the CIT group, the harder is it to keep all of that information secret. Well we can tell you that this session’s incredible CIT group did just that! Any camper who tells you they knew exactly when Spirit Days was breaking are trying to pull a fast one on you! It was an amazing break during a Social, followed by a late night Tug of Ohana!! All day yesterday and today, the Green Trains and Blue Planes are competing in a spirited but friendly competition. Games are being played, cheers and songs being written and practiced, plaques being constructed. And while we try our very best to win, we know that at the end of Spirit Days, we’ll all be winners for having shared such a fun and exciting time. We look forward to our Closing Ceremonies tonight which will officially reunite us as one camp family…and the fireworks show tonight will be pretty cool too!!

So here we are, right at the halfway point. We’re psyched for Wednesday’s Carnival. Thursday our 8th Graders depart for North Conway, NH.  And have we mentioned we still have 2 Theater Shows, a Moose Bowl, a Katahdin Cup, a 7th Grade Day Trip, plenty of intercamp games and tournaments, and so much more time to create lasting memories with our friends?  As we’ve been known to say, “Laurel South…the way life should be!”

Reunited…

Out-of-Camp trips offer our campers the opportunity to see many of the beautiful destination spots in Maine. Our 8th Graders (Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor) and CITs (Whitewater Rafting on the Kennebec River) both returned this afternoon. We can’t wait to hear their stories about the adventures they had, but we’re glad to have our entire camp family back together!  Yesterday was our first “S” Day, and each group had its own special trip:  Saco & Kineo (Splashtown USA), Baxter & Allagash (Aquaboggan) and 7th Grade Nation (Old Orchard Beach). After so much excitement in one day, it was nice to sit back and relax last night with our annual Drive-In Movie on the Downeast Field. It was the perfect end to an amazing day!

 

As the summer keeps moving, the fun never takes a break. Tonight, Roger and Dagni are dining in town with our 7-Year Club. It’s always an awesome time to hang out and reflect on some of the most memorable times of their long camp careers. And while camp may be moving quickly, we have so much to look forward to: Canobie Lake & Funtown, Moose Bowl & Katahdin Cup, Lion King & Aladdin, Carnival…the list goes on! We’ll keep you posted, and, until next time: It’s a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!

Off to the Races!!!

While it may seem as though we just arrived at camp, we certainly wasted no time getting right into the fun!

After Monday’s Arrival and Tuesday’s Moose Stomp Day, Wednesday was our first program day and everyone was thrilled. From the Ballfields to the Theater, Crescent Lake to the Culinary Center, Equestrian Center to the Arts Studio…the sounds of campers laughing, playing and cheering reminds us each day how lucky we are to be at this special place! We’ve had our 3-Year Club Party, started intercamp games, cast the plays and begun rehearsals, had combines and practices for Moose Bowl and Katahdin Cup…and that’s just the start.

Our 6th Grade boys were the first to head out on an overnight camping trip. They arrived back at camp today with some awesome stories and memories! Tomorrow morning, our CIT’s will head to the Kennebec River for their White Water Rafting trip, while our 8th Graders are off to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor! We miss them while they’re gone, but seeing their smiles when they return and hearing their fantastic stories make it all worthwhile!

As you can probably tell, the action is in full swing at Laurel South! We’ll keep you updated on all the goings on in Casco in future blogs. Until then, rest assured that it’s always a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!

Sun Set…Sun Rise

What a wonderful First Session we had! From Arrival to Departure and every day in between, we made the most of each day. From Moose Bowl to Katahdin Cup, Lion King to Aladdin, it truly was one of our best summers yet!

For all of our campers who departed, thank you for an awesome time, and we can’t wait to see you next summer. To our incredible group of CITs, thank you all for the positive example you set for our younger campers. Yours was a special group who we’ll remember fondly. We hope to see many of you back as counselors in a few years. To our staff: wonderful job First Session! To our camp families: thank you for the tremendous faith you’ve shown in us. We understand that choosing a camp is no easy task. We hope we exceeded your expectations.

And just like that, our attention turns to the equally amazing campers arriving on Monday! We can’t wait to see you. Get ready for the summer of a lifetime!! Camp…the way life should be!

Nearing the Halfway Point

Every summer seems to fly by, and this one is no exception! Seems like we just arrived, and OMG, we only have 2 weeks left! The fun hasn’t slowed at all, and camp is in full swing. Seeing children playing sports, building rockets, creating art, enjoying nature, challenging themselves at adventure, splashing in Crescent Lake, riding horses, practicing for upcoming theater shows…all unmistakable signs the 2019 summer will be another one for the ages!

One early highlight was our Katahdin Cup team scrimmaging another camp, under the lights, in front of 100 cheering fans. What a night it was! Our ladies made the entire Laurel South family proud. We are sure this special night will become an incredible tradition. Yesterday was the 4th of July, and our traditional BBQ dinner was followed by the most epic fireworks show around! Today the entire camp traveled to Canobie Lake for a day of rides, games, food, and (most importantly) spending times with our camp family, creating memories and forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

With only 2 weeks to go, we will continue full-steam-ahead, making the most of every moment we are together in Maine. Still to come: Spirit Days, Theater Shows, Carnival, Moose Bowl, Katahdin Cup and so much more! Stay tuned for future blogs, and – as always – it’s a beautiful day in the state of Maine!

Teamwork and Independence Go Together at Camp

I fondly remember my summers at camp: living in a cabin with 10 other boys and my counselors, playing sports for sunset to sundown, Intercamp games, Spirit Days, the list goes on. And while I remember those amazing summers like they were yesterday, they were almost 40 years ago! While I enjoyed camp in my time, kids today benefit from the experience more than ever.

Today’s world has become far more competitive when it comes to youth sports. In many cases, the chance to play many sports throughout the year is replaced by the need to focus on one sport. Children no longer play little league baseball until it’s soccer season until it’s basketball season. It seems that, at eight years old, children pick a sport to concentrate on and hope you are good enough to make the neighborhood traveling team. That’s a lot of pressure at a young age.

At Laurel South, children play every sport they want. Newcomers to a sport can learn the rules and fundamentals while experienced campers focus on improving skills. Everyone is met at their respective levels by talented coaches who share their passion of the game. Campers can be part of the team, get ample playing time and learn to love the game.

Children today are overly reliant on technology. Time playing outside with friends has been replaced with screen-time. Often times TV, computers and cell phones replace meaningful play time with others. Camp affords children the opportunity to unplug for the summer, enjoying interaction with their peers and counselors.

Campers also gain a new sense of independence and responsibility at camp. They help keep their cabin and area clean during the summer. They learn to make their bed, put away their clothes and work with their friends to keep the whole cabin clean. They learn to communicate with each to problem-solve. Many parents notice their children come home from camp more confident and independent.

All in all, camp allows children to take a deep breath, relax, have fun, grow as a person, foster friendships and create a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime!

Camp Brothers and Sisters

…More than tradition…

How do people develop into good role models? Are they easy to pick out? What character traits make them up? Like everything in life, being a good role model takes practice. It’s rarely a responsibility that anyone is initially prepared for, but Laurel South provides campers an experience that will help tremendously.

Campers in Katahdin and Rangeley (7th – 9th graders) have the opportunity to be Camp Big Brothers and Sisters. Their “little” will be their biggest fan! The relationship between camp brothers or sisters is more than just a tradition. It’s one of the first chances at making a difference in someone’s life.  And to be completely honest, it feels really good to have others look up to you!

Building the relationship is the first step in the process. Something as simple as going out of your way to say hi and ask them how they are doing is a great way to start. You could stop by their table at lunch to check in. Or seek them out during all-camp events. It only takes a few of these interactions before they feel connected and ready to be led in the right direction.

Being a role model at camp is so much more than being a good friend. It’s about following Laurel South’s philosophy of being “kinder than necessary”, choosing your attitude even when things may not go your way, and of course, having fun!

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