The first day of camp is often like the first day of a new school year. New faces, new activities and a renewed excitement for the summer ahead. Roger and Dagni often talk about how the memories we make and the friendships we forge at camp will last a lifetime. Approaching camp with this in mind allows each camper to be the author of their own adventures and memories. It also allows them to include their friends and counselors in their summer stories.
Camp is an incredible crash course in meeting people and making friends. Campers share with each other, communicate together and learn different perspectives all summer long. Children are interacting in ways they never get to throughout the school year. They’re eating S’mores, competing in athletics and singing songs. Most importantly, campers are living the cabin life, which is so much more than the place where campers and counselors brush their teeth and fall sleep. It’s where they become a summer family, create lifelong inside jokes and learn to be great friends. At the end of every summer, each cabin paints a cabin rock that captures their favorite camp moments: a token to visit in future summers to be reminded of all the great memories.
Campers appreciate their camp friends for all the right reasons. They stand up for and encourage one another. At Laurel South, campers learn not only to make friends, but also develop the tools necessary to allow those friendships to grow through their shared summer experiences.
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!
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. We came up with a list of fun Laurel South activities that can be done to keep things interesting. We’d also love to hear the at-home ideas our Laurel South family is up to in the comments below!
Scavenger hunts are one of the many team-building activities we utilize when camp opens to create a great community with awesome communication. Want to make it fun while also being productive? Get your camp duffels out and set up clues for items your campers will bring to camp. The duffel can be home for the clues and items they find around the house. This is a great way to generate excitement for camp.
Backyard or Indoor Camping
Nothing beats being with friends in the great outdoors. And now is a great time to ease into the world of outdoor camping by setting up a tent in the yard or living room. Don’t have a tent? Make a fort with blankets and pillows. A fun activity for parents and children, this can easily be modified by setting up a digital camp hangout with your friends. It’s also the perfect excuse for some Indoor S’mores!
Change the Channel
Change the Channel is a theatre game that’s stood the test of time because it relies on imagination and improvisation. Setup is simple: start with two or more actors and one director. The director gives the actors a scene (like waterskiing on Crescent Lake with a boat driver and skier). At any time, the Director yells ‘Freeze!’ and trades places with one of the actors who then becomes the director and sets up a new scene with the frozen actors before calling out ‘Action!’
Camp is the best place for pen pals. And now is the perfect time to reach out to your camp friends, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles as an old school (or digital) pen pal. As a (massive) bonus, this will help your campers get into the habit of writing before camp starts, netting parents some extra letters when the temperature heats up!
There is so much excitement in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to camp. Filling out activity forms and packing duffels inevitably has me chomping at the bit for summer to start. As the buses roll in, campers and counselors cheer. It’s an incredible scene for returning and new campers alike. The nerves leading up to camp melt away with all the high-fives and hugs that happen instantly!
Songs and Cheers
They’re silly. They’re fun. And they’re catchy. Camp songs are stuck in my head all year long. I don’t realize I’m humming Where I Wanna Be while doing homework. The Kennebec and Kennebago Songs, Saco Train, Baxter Slide all make me smile at random. The energy and enthusiasm in the melodies around camp make me smile all year long.
Silent claps, snaps and ‘making rain’ set the campfire mood. Singing No Place Like Camp, arms around your friends is the best. Campfires showcase some of Laurel South’s best talent. Campfires and camp go together like sun butter and jelly. And, of course, we end each campfire with All My Life’s a Circle and House at Pooh Corner.
Nothing beats the Maine night sky. The first time I saw a shooting star was magical. It was also surprising because a cabinmate knew SO MUCH about the solar system. I knew who to sit by when we went stargazing every summer since. Not only did the stars light up the night, but they helped develop a new friendship.
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.
People always ask me about my favorite aspects of summer camp. That list could go on forever: community, independence, friendship, activities, teamwork, facilities, personal growth. Staying unplugged and tuned into the world is a key ingredient for all those benefits. Children (and counselors) spend so much of their year in classrooms and their free time plugged in. One of the things camp people look forward to so much is a change in their environment. And there’s no better place for this switch than Maine.
Laurel South is in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked among tall pine trees nestled on gorgeous Crescent Lake: Maine is the definition of natural beauty. The views of the surrounding forest are a welcome change to the skyscraper backdrop of the big cities from where our campers come. Breathing in the crisp Maine each summer is an amazing experience. The acres and acres of lush green fields give our campers a connection to the nature around them. Campers are also able to take advantage of day-hikes and camping excursions to state parks, Acadia National Park and local spots we’ve been frequenting to for decades.
When campers reminisce about their time at Laurel South they always talk about their “experience” rather than specific activities. They mention that distinct mix of friendship, community and nature. It’s a life-changing experience and one that Maine provides in the best way.
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.
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!
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!
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!!!