At the end of every summer, I can’t stop talking about camp. The stories are endless, and it’s impossible not to share them. The anecdotes are often specific enough to qualify for ‘you had to be there’ moments. From grand events like the break of Spirit Days to tales of campers realizing their goals to the crackle of a mid-summer campfire. There’s something special happening every hour of every day.
We often remind our counselors “Little moments have a big impact.” And that’s true. Like how a camper created a song and it became a year-after-year tradition. Or how a staff member turned brushing teeth into a game that campers would look forward to each morning and night. Stringing the anecdotes together paints a bigger picture of Laurel South: a camp becoming a community. Campers who two weeks prior were strangers begin to function like a family. Campers who have been together summer after summer (after summer!) start appreciating their amazing time at Laurel South in a new way.
In between the stories I tell, I realize how gratifying the larger dynamics of camp are. And it makes me even more eager for the upcoming inside jokes, anecdotes and another summer in Maine!
Shining stars on a clear summer night. A gentle breeze whistling through the trees. The call of the loon in the evening or a robin chirping in the morning. A summer in Maine reminds us to slow down and cherish every minute. Of course, those aren’t the only sensory sensations of the summer. Camp is alive with energy every day from echoes at Cove to cheering on the Fields to laughter and splashing in Crescent Lake and songs rehearsed in the Theater. Laurel South’s spirit can be seen and heard from one end of camp to the other!
One thing you won’t hear throughout the summer: the ping of an Instagram notification or the buzz of a phone. A summer at camp is the perfect place for a digital detox. There are numerous studies about the benefits of staying unplugged: increased concentration, better short- and long-term memory, improved conversation skills and higher self-esteem are among the many perks of getting away from digital devices.
It’s easy to quickly double tap a friend’s post, update your own status or clear the notification bar. But, just as easily, it can take us out of the moment. Camp is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. Campers find themselves making genuine connections with their peers and counselors. They also have the opportunity to exercise their minds in a more ‘analog’ way by writing letters home and reading books.
Digital advances have made our world easier and more accessible in many ways, but campers (and counselors!) will be surprised by how great they feel after time away from their devices.
You may have begun to notice that, ever so slowly, the nights are beginning to turn a bit cooler and the sun is rising a bit later. This could only mean that Fall is upon us, and school is right around the corner. Of course, school will look different for everyone this year.
Whether it’s online, in-person or a hybrid, students and teachers will be together again. Conversations will be had about what we did during our extended break and how different 2020 has been than any year in memory. We’ve heard over and over how much our campers and counselors missed being at Laurel South: missing the routines, missing learning new skills, missing the outdoors, and, mostly, missing camp friends and the chance to be mentored by our amazing staff. We all are yearning for the community and unconditional acceptance we feel at camp.
As our campers head back to school, please know that we missed sharing everything with you, but we’re one step closer to being together on the shores of Crescent Lake in 2021!
It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Crescent Lake over the weekend. We missed all our campers and counselors! Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to celebrate Independence Day together in Maine. We’re grateful for the fun events each summer. Sometimes Spirit Days falls on the 4th…or how about a 4th of July Carnival Day? We always have amazing activities planned, culminating with a traditional BBQ cookout and, of course, the greatest fireworks show in all of Maine!
We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel South-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.
We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel South family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you all had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s independence on the shores of Crescent Lake in 2021!
The Great Outdoors: There’s nothing better than fresh air, sunshine and amazing Crescent Lake. Rolling hills, trees as far as the eye can see…you won’t find a better office or cubicle than a summer in Maine.
Be the Difference: Camp counselors instantly become role models for campers. Every moment is an opportunity to form a lifelong memory, whether funny or poignant. What you do matters, and that’s the best feeling of all.
Lifelong Friendships: Camp is a unique environment because it’s the ultimate team endeavor. Counselors are surrounded by people who are like-minded in so many ways and come with a similar appetite for adventure. On camp departure day counselors have a network of peers that extends from coast to coast (and into other countries!)
Leadership: Camp is genuine, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. Counselors are also guiding campers all day, every day. Getting to a level of comfort while leading translates into confidence in so many other areas of your life.
Unplug: Camp is the easiest place to look up and live in the moment. You have meaningful conversations and form amazing relationships. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have tons of ‘Gram-worthy’ pictures from the summer. And every one of them will have a funny story to go along with the people and places included in them.
Learning: You learn so much about yourself at camp. You’re spending two months in a new environment and will be glad you embraced the opportunity. You’ll gain valuable new perspectives from interacting with campers and counselors from different walks of life. It’s truly incredible.
When camp comes to an end, we pack-up your duffels before you head home to get ready for another school year. You leave camp with a lot more than you came with (like ceramics projects and bracelets — and more bracelets!) But more importantly, you leave with a treasure-trove of memories, lifelong friendships and a renewed sense of confidence and independence that camp fosters.
There are different ways campers bring the Laurel South Spirit home with them. Humming camp tunes, exploring a new athletic or artistic passion, a newfound ease when making new friends…there are many ways that camp affords us the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves.
Laurel South has a special way of revealing a new side of campers even they may not normally have seen or even knew existed. Even campers who return year after year come home with something new each summer. They understand how fortunate they are to spend their summers on Crescent Lake. They feel a profound connection to Maine. They realize they don’t need to be “plugged in” to feel connected. Campers take something extra home with them: the stories, shared experiences, inside jokes and memories. Luckily, the Laurel South Spirit won’t take up any space in your duffel. And that will stay with you for life!
Another magical and amazing summer has come to a close. From our two incredible Theater shows to Moose Bowl and Katahdin Cup…Gymnastics to Rocketry…the Arts to Adventure…Equestrian to Culinary…Waterfront to Anything Goes and all points in between, the summer could not have been better.
To our Campers: We hope you had the summer of a lifetime. Watching you laugh and support each other is what makes it so worthwhile to us!
To our Staff: Thank you for your tireless efforts throughout the summer. Your dedication to our campers amazed us all summer long!
To the CIT’s of 2019: You truly made the most of your final summer as campers! Thank you for setting such a wonderful example to our younger campers. You represented the best of what a camp experience could and should be! We will miss you and can’t wait to see many of you back as staff members in the near future.
And to our Camp Parents: Thank you for trusting us! We understand the decision to send your child away is incredibly difficult, and we will never underestimate the responsibility we have taking care of your children.
At Laurel South, we choose our attitudes, so while we may be sad the summer has come to an end, we choose to be excited that the countdown for the 2020 summer has officially begun! We hope you all have an awesome year, and we can’t wait to reunite in Maine next summer.
It’s a beautiful day in the state of Maine! Camp and Laurel South: The way life should be!!!
Today’s world seems to have become ultra-competitive…from the time one joins little league until job application time, everyone is looking for that special something that sets them apart from the others. Perhaps no trait is more valuable than leadership, and summer camp is a great opportunity for young men and women to develop and practice their leadership skills.
At Laurel South, our campers look forward to finally being in 7th Grade so they can be in Rangeley (boys) or Katahdin (girls). And, by the way, being able to now opt out of instructional swim is not the main reason. These older campers become Camp Big Brothers and Camp Big Sisters for our younger campers. They take great pride in educating our younger campers about the traditions that make Laurel South our summer home. Our 9th Grade campers run camp for 2 days during Spirit Days!
At the end of the summer, our 9th Graders meet with the 8th Graders and explain the importance of having CIT leaders that the rest of the campers can look up to and emulate in the future. It’s this sense of accomplishment and pride that drives so many to return as staff members!
So, yes, camp is fun. Camp allows us to unplug, enjoy nature and build lifelong friendships. But camp also develops leadership qualities that will benefit campers for a lifetime.
Twelve summers ago, I heard about Laurel South through one of my college friends. I knew very little about summer camps and Maine. I remember looking at the website and thinking it would be a fun adventure before finding internships for future summers. Back then, very few websites had any videos at all, and I landed in Maine with few expectations.
Now, I tell new counselors how jealous I am that they’re about to experience Laurel South for the first time. It’s like the notes of a great song or opening an inspiring book. As soon as it’s over, you want to tell everyone about it. That’s how Laurel South is to me. But unlike a song that might get old, working at Laurel South is the same rewarding experience every summer.
Each fall, my family and friends that haven’t experienced the joy of Laurel South ask me why I keep going back. I always start with the traditions, activities and working outside in beautiful Maine. That’s what they can understand without truly experiencing it. They feel my enthusiasm for Laurel South. But, beyond the facilities, traditions and Crescent Lake, there’s one thing that stands above everything else: the community.
Laurel South is special because of the people. From the counselors to the health center to the office and support staff, Laurel South is filled with amazing people who are passionate about what they’re doing. Most importantly, everyone has the same goal of giving our campers the best summer possible.
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!