I’m the camp’s Program Director. I have a very unique job at camp as the person responsible for overseeing the daily scheduling of the camp’s daily activities. Even though it’s not one of the traditional camp jobs that comes to mind when people imagine working at a summer camp, it’s a crucial one. I like that it’s a perfect combination of behind the scenes with hands on.
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get the opportunity to get to know most of the campers and staff through daily interaction. I’m the person they come to with requests for their programs. I enjoy speaking with them about the things that are working in their activity areas and hear feedback about things that I might improve.
On those rare occurrences when the sun refuses to cooperate with the camp schedule, I get to demonstrate my creative talents by figuring how we can keep the fun going in all of our indoor facilities. I also enjoy getting out on campus every now to see for myself how the schedule plays out in real time. It’s a great time for me to take notes for the next schedule.
In the evenings, before I begin working on the next day’s schedule, I often participate in special events. Sometimes I judge activities. Sometimes I lead them. Other times, I host them or just keep score. The real reward of my job is when I overhear campers telling their counselors that they just had the best day ever as they’re heading off to bed in the evenings. It’s a great way to begin another day because just as everyone winds down their day at camp, I head back to my office to begin working on the next day’s schedule, ready to create another “funnest day ever!” for our campers. If you think working in camp programming sounds like a fun job, apply at one of America’s Finest Summer Camps today!
Robert Fulghum wrote a great poem entitled “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.” Since so many campers and staff members often speak of all of the valuable things they learn at camp, we thought we’d do a tribute to Fulghum’s original poem, as well as to all present and former campers and staff members, with our own camp take on the classic…
Everything I Need to Know in Life…I didn’t learn in a classroom or in a book. I learned it at summer camp. I learned….
The world would be an awesome place if everyone went to summer camp!
It’s January. The kids just returned to school after their winter break, from which you’re still exhausted. You’re already thinking about summer. Entertaining them for two weeks was hard enough, let alone two months! Maybe it’s time to start thinking about summer camp. Yes, it’s January. Yes, this is the time of the year when most of us start monitoring the morning radio and news reports for school closings and delays. But summer is closer than you might think and now is the ideal time to start choosing a camp.
Summer camps come in many sizes and lengths from around one hundred campers all the way up to several hundred and sessions that last a from a few weeks up to seven. There is truly a summer camp for every preference and budget. No matter what type of summer camp you prefer, they all have one thing in common: the fun doesn’t stop after 5pm!
Summer camp doesn’t just occupy your children during those summer hours when they’d otherwise be at school. It’s a place that entertains them well into the evening hours as well. In fact some of the best times at camp happen after dinner. Sure there is plenty for campers to do during the day; play sports, pursue a hobby, swim, boat, play games, make new friends. But the evening is when some of the deepest bonding moments of the summer take place. After dinner at summer camp, children don’t retire to the living room sofa to watch television or flip on the Wii. There are no cell phones in which to engage themselves for hours playing Angry Birds. At camp, campers may find themselves taking part in a sing along, acting in a camp show, playing crazy games, or watching a magician or hypnotist. It could be drum circle night or there may even be a campfire with s’mores in store. Maybe it’s a swim or a dance party…or both! It could be a sleepover or a night making special treats or craft projects. Maybe it’s just a night to chill with the bunk cabin No matter what the activity, it’s fun and two words that are NEVER heard at camp: “I’m bored!”
Much of the support for summer camp revolves around the skills children develop during daytime programming activities. The value in summer camp evening activities is often underrated. However, a great deal of planning intended to extend camp spirit and tradition into evenings. Camps employ entire teams of people whose sole responsibility is to plan and execute evening activities and special events that enhance the overall camp experience. While having fun at their evening activities, campers also continue to learn how to shine as an individual, to be part of a team, and to develop their creativity in ways that benefit them as well as others. At the same time, some of the most prevalent and pervading summer camp memories are made at evening activities.
An investment in summer camp is not just an investment in keeping children occupied during their summer days. It’s a 24/7 investment that also includes evening entertainment that further develops the skills that are honed during the daytime. So now and during their next break from school, when your children proclaim, “We’re bored,” think about summer camp.
Do you ever wonder what happens at camp when it rains? We assure you, it’s nothing like those scenes in movies that depict bummed out campers forced to spend entire days in their cabins or bunks . Typically, it doesn’t rain all that often in the northeast during the summer and, whenever possible, activities proceed as planned. We never let a few sprinkles get in the way of our regular activities. But on those rare days when there is just no way around it, we’re ready!
When we wake up to a morning that makes outdoor activities unrealistic, we swing into action by implementing alternative programs. Camp is just as fun and active when it’s a little bit wet outside as it is when the sun is shining. By utilizing our indoor facilities, we’re able to keep the action going by combining our regular programs that are already completely or partially indoors, like gymnastics and arts and crafts, with special activities, like games, trivia contests, or sing-a-longs. Sometimes, we simply move some of the things we normally do outside to an indoor location. Ga-ga, basketball, and soccer, for instance, all adapt well to indoor locations. By making just a few minor adjustments, we’re able to make sure that everyday at camp is full of good times and memories for our campers, not just those days when the sun shines.
Every day, we rely on a several teams of individuals to make camp happen. Everyone knows about camp counselors, the people on the front lines, but not everyone is aware of the people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Running a summer camp really is more than showing up in June ready to welcome campers and have fun. There are a myriad of staff members who perform the often thankless job of working “behind the scenes” at camp. They are a very diverse group of individuals. Some of them answer the phone when you call the camp. Others schedule daily activities, arrange transportation, or cook the food. Still, others take care of your children when they’re not feeling well, or look into your concerns about their daily lives at camp.
The fact of the matter is that summer camps require individuals of many interests and talents to operate successfully, and the measure of a good summer relies on the abilities and passions of these individuals. They often work long hours, from sunrise until the wee hours of the morning simply because they love camp. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you that they do what they do because, in the end, it contributes to a successful summer for campers and their parents. They also might be a little coy in admitting that it’s just plain fun for them.
Furthermore, these people are so good at their jobs that we don’t even adequately know how to thank them. They work with passion and without regard to anything but making sure our campers and their parents have the best possible experience at our camps. It truly is a thankless job , in many ways, to work behind the scenes at an American summer camp. But we are thankful!
There is something about singing that brings people together. Perhaps that’s why singing (and music in general) is such an important part of camp. The silly or sometimes sentimental words of a “camp song” can set a mood, evoke a feeling, and create atmosphere. Music is a universal language that everyone understands. Perhaps this is why so many American summer camps open and close their summers with sing-alongs. Sing-alongs are fantastic ways to say both “we’re together again” and “until next time.”
Ask campers to name some of their most favorite moments of summer camp and, most assuredly, they’ll name more than one that involves singing in some way…that first exciting night of camp, campfires, zany and often spontaneous dining room rituals, fun times with fellow campers and counselors inside the bunk, and saying goodbye at the end of the summer. More importantly, ask any current or former camper to sing his camp alma mater and he’ll do it as if it’s second nature. The words of a camp’s alma mater are magical—a way to instantly transport one back to camp and those summers filled with fun and friends.
Many parents say that their children even sing camp songs constantly throughout the winter as a way of remembering their time at camp. Some of them even admit that they can’t resist the temptation to join in.
Parents, do you ever log onto your computer to check out the camp photos for the day, see your child painted in blue from head to toe or maybe wearing a crazy wig and big nerdy glasses and wonder, ‘What in the world?’ The answer probably has something to do with your summer camp’s special events and evening activities. For fifty plus nights (and some days) summer camps entertain your children with some of the zaniest games and wackiest contests that they can come up with. Why? Because it’s fun to be painted in blue from head to toe…seriously. Or at least it is when your cabin is performing a dance to the Smurfs theme in front of the entire camp and you’re Papa Smurf—or Smurfette. And seeing images of your children and their counselors slipping, sliding, and splashing around in what appears to be multi-colored goo…it’s a camp thing…a really fun camp thing. Eye patches are always fun. So is spending a day pretending to be pirates and searching for buried treasure. Becoming a secret agent and collecting clues to decode a message or pretending to be wild animals is also a great way to spend that occasional non-program day. From trivia contests to talent contests and everything in between, some of the greatest moments of summer camp happen during the crazy days and wacky nights!
What do celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston, Brody Jenner, Matt Damon, and Kate Hudson have in common? They’ve all fallen victim to the latest craze in water sports and fitness: Paddle Boarding. Paddle Boarding combines the tranquility of being on open water with the benefits of an incredible full-body work out that especially targets the core. The origins of Paddle Boarding, or Stand up Paddle Surfing (SUP), are ancient. Hawaiian kings have been practicing Ku Hoe He’e Nalu (to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave) for hundreds of years. In the 1960s, Hawaiian surf instructors began using Paddle Boards in order to watch over large groups of students at one time. Not long after, surfing legends such as Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama started to take up SUP as a way to train when the waves were not high enough for surfing. Today, Paddle Boarding has been gaining popularity at breakneck speeds as celebrities, fitness gurus, surfers and countless others have touted its tremendous benefits.
One of the great things about SUP is that, unlike surfing, it is extremely easy to learn. Most Paddle Boarders become very comfortable standing on their board within an hour of getting on the water. SUP also has incredible versatility. You can think of it as either a competitive racing sport, a great workout, or a peaceful way to experience nature. Lately, Yoga on Paddle Boards has even been gaining in popularity. No matter what you’re interested in, Paddle Boarding is a fun and exciting activity that people of all ages should experience. This summer, Laurel South is adding Paddle Boarding on Crescent Lake as a new activity that we’re very excited about. Try it out, you’ll fall in love!
We’re proud to call Maine home. We’re just as proud to utilize the resources of the entire state and to give hundreds of campers an experience unequaled anywhere else.
At The Laurel Camps there’s more than enough room for an exciting depth and breadth of activities. Sports ranging from baseball, soccer, softball and lacrosse to volleyball, tennis and archery. Equestrian. Swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, wakeboarding, windsurfing and waterskiing on crystal-clear lakes.
But for campers and staff at Laurel and Laurel South, all of Maine is our playground. We hike tall mountains like Katahdin. We head into the pine forests for ropes courses, rappelling and mountain biking. We explore the coast and ocean-side sites like Acadia National Park, Ogunquit and Bar Harbor.
Campers come to Maine from across the country. Whether they’ve been here in the winter to ski, or have never experienced the wonders of the state, they quickly realize it’s an amazing, magnificent place – vast yet intimate, wild yet welcoming.
Parents love it too – particularly if they plan a day or three in the trendy city of Portland, with a side trip to Kennebunkport, Camden or (of course) Freeport to visit L.L. Bean!
It’s all part of the Maine camp experience – discovering new things, no matter what your age. And you never know…you may be lucky enough to spot a Moose.
Roger and Dagni
Camp Laurel South
Need help? Email Us or call 800-327-3506