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!!!
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!”
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!!
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!!!
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!”
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.
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.
One thing parents love so much about camp is that it has a unique way of shifting the mindset of campers. A summer at camp is a summer away from social media and texting and a time focused on nature, real relationships, character building and fun!
Laurel South immerses campers in a world unlike anything they’re used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.
Camp is a place full of big adventures and big fun. But amidst all that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From the quiet beauty of a bonfire or the thrill of climbing the rock wall, campers learn to look for the little things that add up to make a big difference in their camp experience.
With social media playing such a huge role in the lives of kids and teens, many parents wonder if their child could survive without checking Instagram or taking 20+ snaps on the way to school. Without technology and social media to worry about, kids can focus on what they do best: being kids. They have the entire summer to focus on making friends and having fun and they learn that being in the moment is far more important than finding the perfect filter to capture the moment. Social media has its advantages of course, but at camp, campers learn a valuable lesson: their worth is not defined by how many followers they have or how many likes their pictures get.
Camp changes the way campers see the world. By spending their summers at Laurel South, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.
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!
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!