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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!”

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!!!

Nearing the Halfway Point

Every summer seems to fly by, and this one is no exception! Seems like we just arrived, and OMG, we only have 2 weeks left! The fun hasn’t slowed at all, and camp is in full swing. Seeing children playing sports, building rockets, creating art, enjoying nature, challenging themselves at adventure, splashing in Crescent Lake, riding horses, practicing for upcoming theater shows…all unmistakable signs the 2019 summer will be another one for the ages!

One early highlight was our Katahdin Cup team scrimmaging another camp, under the lights, in front of 100 cheering fans. What a night it was! Our ladies made the entire Laurel South family proud. We are sure this special night will become an incredible tradition. Yesterday was the 4th of July, and our traditional BBQ dinner was followed by the most epic fireworks show around! Today the entire camp traveled to Canobie Lake for a day of rides, games, food, and (most importantly) spending times with our camp family, creating memories and forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

With only 2 weeks to go, we will continue full-steam-ahead, making the most of every moment we are together in Maine. Still to come: Spirit Days, Theater Shows, Carnival, Moose Bowl, Katahdin Cup and so much more! Stay tuned for future blogs, and – as always – it’s 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.

The Best Thing About Laurel South

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.

The Perfect Place to Unplug

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.

Costumes at Camp

Halloween is a blast every fall, and we’re sure our campers loved celebrating last week. Who doesn’t like expressing themselves with a wacky costume? At Camp Laurel South we’re fortunate to have so many opportunities to do just that. Camp is always encouraging creativity through crazy hair, stage make up or ridiculous outfits.

Our favorites include the Blue and Green everywhere for Laurel South Spirit Day, Team Day, Camo Day and the patriotic madness on the 4th of July. But those are just the beginning!

Counselors often shake it up with themes for Socials or Saco/Kineo IC periods.  Evening programs such as Looneyville, Gold Rush and Where’s Waldo often incorporate costumes or themed ideas.  And, of course, the entire camp shows off their Moose Bowl Spirit by dressing in Black to support the Black Bears or Red to show their allegiance to the Rattle Snakes.

The best part of dressing up isn’t always being out and about, but the enthusiasm for planning costumes back in the cabin with your closest friends. Camp is a reminder that you’re never too old and never too cool to dress up and be excited for what’s ahead, and that’s an important lesson for everyone!

Camp Benefits Everyone

Camp is one of the great positive experiences that can truly alter the course of ones’ life.  Campers and counselors are exposed to new ideas, activities and situations that provide eye-opening opportunities. Campers can try a new sport that might become a passion resulting in making a high school sports team. Counselors might realize that working with children is their calling in life.

Campers from different regions are exposed to new programs and activities that may not be widely available in their area… wakeboarding, equestrian, stand-up paddling to name a few. They may discover a passion for cooking in the Culinary Center or the wide variety of artistic endeavors beyond painting.

Counselors experience new things as they learn to care for others. They’re afforded the opportunity to instruct and coach in their area of expertise. They meet peers and mentors from all over the world – creating a network of people with shared interests and goals.

Campers and counselors learn about kindness, patience and community as they share time, space and triumphs with their cabinmates and friends. Camp provides a place for all to unplug and mentally recharge. A place where we celebrate achievements and embrace learning opportunities. Everyone plays sports; everyone gets up on waterskis; everyone sings around the campfire. Everyone is challenged at the appropriate level and improves, whether in the arts, athletics, acting or adventure. Everyone has a place at camp.

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