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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!

Another Successful Summer

The sun is setting earlier, the nights are a bit cooler and camp is over. After living, playing, learning, laughing and growing together for three-and-a-half weeks, we now reflect on another incredible season. The bonds that were forged at Laurel South are remarkably strong. Camp is a unique place where children and counselors wake up, eat, play and spend the days together with friends all summer long.

The magical thing about summer camp is that it goes far beyond three-and-a-half weeks. Memories last a lifetime, and everything is more than it seems. Playing basketball isn’t just about gaining and improving skills, but also about learning to be a good sport and teammate. Finishing a ceramics project is about following directions and unlocking creativity. Campers conquer their fears and step out of their comfort zones at the Climbing Wall and Challenge Course. In the cabin they build confidence by celebrating each other’s achievements, supporting one another and living together.

The lessons learned at camp translate in the real world. Whether in the classroom, at extracurricular activities or in the community, camp helps us become better students, teammates and friends. Parents: We know you’ll have the chance to talk with your camper about what they learned this summer. As always, we want to thank our campers, camp parents and counselors for another amazing summer!

The Way Life Should Be

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!!!

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!!!

Welcome to Laurel South 2019!

As each summer ends, we tell ourselves not to be sad the current summer ended, but rather to be excited because the countdown to next summer has officially begun. And while it may seem like yesterday we bade farewell to our summer home, it’s with incredible excitement we say: “Welcome to Laurel South Summer 2019!”

From the back-to-school days of the fall, through Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays…from the turning of the calendar to the flowers blooming in Spring…from arriving at Pre-Camp to Staff Orientation…the excitement and enthusiasm builds to a crescendo that culminates today with the arrival of 400 of the greatest campers in the world!

Our staff had an amazingly fun and productive Orientation week, and they’re thrilled to welcome our campers from 27 states and 17 countries! For the next 3 ½ weeks, we’ll have a ball. From the ballfields to the waterfront, equestrian center to the theater, adventure to arts, out camp family will have the opportunity to form friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime. We’ll unplug in one of the most beautiful settings.

We’ll blog all summer to keep you current on all the fun in Maine. As Roger frequently says: “It’s a beautiful day in the state of Maine today!”

The Place To Be Yourself

Laurel South is the ultimate place to let loose, be comfortable and be yourself. All summer long, campers are rocking face paint, transforming into super heroes, improving at their favorite sports and activities, and letting their imaginations run wild. Counselors let their inner child emerge, too. Everyone at camp feels safe: safe to use their imaginations and safe to be themselves.

Laurel South encourages campers to be themselves in a variety of ways. Planned down time allows campers the opportunity to explore and socialize with friends in a way that is supervised, but not overly structured. Campers have a catch, shoot hoops, play ping pong, and explore their interests. During structured activities, children are supported when they speak their minds, share opinions and talk things through. They learn to listen and respect one another. This allows campers to see different sides of a situation. Every summer, campers grow socially and emotionally in a unique way.

Counselors capitalize on their strengths of being fun, relatable, silly and responsible. They take pride in being role models. They help set the tone all summer by calming themselves down when it’s time to be more serious, and campers learn to differentiate times to be silly and times to be focused.

Children are often expected to be focused and serious throughout the school year; at camp, they foster their childlike wonder more often.  At camp, children feel safe to show off their relaxed and sometimes silly side.

Developing Leadership at Camp

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.

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