Camp Laurel South Blog

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We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do…

The 4th of July is an American camping tradition. For over a century, campers have enjoyed a special day at camp, filled with cookouts and fireworks shows. As if the day couldn’t get any more spirited, our CIT’s chose that very day to break Spirit Days 2017!!! To top it off, the break occurred before breakfast, leaving the entire camp in awe. Suffice to say: no one saw this break coming! For two days, the Green Army and Blue Navy took part in the friendliest of competitions, playing hard, cheering harder and demonstrating the kind of sportsmanship that makes Roger and Dagni so proud. In the end, we all won because everyone had an amazing time! The CIT’s displayed the kind of leadership that makes us beam. We were thrilled with the 2017 Spirit Days, but we were excited to be reunited as one big camp family!

We’ve crossed the halfway mark of the summer, and we still have so much to look forward to.  Intercamp games and tournaments are going on every day. Today is our awesome Fly Fishing clinic, and tomorrow is our incredible Carnival Day!

We’re making the most of each and every moment we have together in Maine and look forward to all the wonderful events still to come!

Where I Go All Summer and Why I Look so Happy When I Come Back

Every summer, millions of students close their books, say goodbye to homework and depart for summer camp. For a month or two, they stay busy doing activities, exploring nature and making new friends. All that anybody hears from them is the occasional cheery postcard dropped in the mail between activities.

Weeks later, they return home smiling, suntanned and filled with enthusiasm, leaving everyone that stayed home wondering: what happened out there that was such a blast? Their peers who don’t attend summer camp are sure to look up from their phones when everybody gets back to school and ask two questions summer campers know well: “Where have you been? And, why do you look so happy?”

Challenge by Choice Helps You Believe in Yourself

Contrary to popular belief, the real attraction of camp isn’t that it’s easy, or “all fun and games.” The real attraction of summer camp is that it teaches you the rewards that come from new experiences and meeting new challenges. When you realize that challenging things can also be fun, difficulties like homework and making friends at school that used to seem scary and difficult become easy and engaging. You realize that just like any game, the secret is to enjoy playing win or lose. This is an important life lesson and a main reason campers tend to seem happy and energetic.

 Learning that Exercise Can Be Fun

Another reason for all the post-camp smiling might seem obvious to some: physical activity. Endless scientific studies have shown the negative effects that getting too little physical exercise can have on people, particularly young people who are still growing. So, it’s a good thing that summer camp is basically a crash course in exercise, introducing campers to tons of high-energy sports and activities.

Campers don’t just do activities at camp — they take skills home and pursue their passions independently, whether it’s playing for their school sports teams, joining a climbing gym or working on their tennis game.

In short: at camp, the endorphins are flowing!

Digital Detox Works Wonders

Technology isn’t all bad, but most parents agree that spending too much time playing SnapChat stories and scanning Instagram can have a negative social effect on children and teens. After all, can you imagine how different your childhood would be if you hadn’t spent most of it outside, making your own fun with your siblings and friends?

In our digital age kids feel a lot of pressure to stay “active” with a wide range of social media activities, and that can become incredibly stressful, not to mention invite bullying. Camp is a chance for campers to cut their ties to technology and concentrate on the things that make childhood fun. Namely, making new friends, discovering new things, and getting back in touch with nature.

What it All Means

Summer camp has a lot of fun activities, yet when people reminisce about summer camp they aren’t usually talking specifically about sailing, or basketball, or ceramics, or campfires. No, they always talk about “the summer camp experience” — that unmistakable mix of nature, friendship and activities that somehow turns fun and games into a chance for growth and self-discovery.

When you look through photos from time spent at camp, it’s always bittersweet; these are times that go by quickly and are memories that will last forever.

No matter their background, campers will all tell you that camp is a life-changing experience. Campers are introduced to life-long friends, given a chance to practice their real-world social skills, taught the value of unplugging from the digital world and focus on being present in the moment.

With all that summer camp offers, why wouldn’t you look happy when you come home?

Spirit Days 2016!

Unknown-1Wednesday morning started out like any other “B” Day. Everyone came to breakfast excited for the day. Little did they know how much excitement they were in for. In unison, our incredible CIT’s removed their sweatshirts and sweatpants to reveal their Blue and Green clothing hidden until just the right moment.

That’s right, Spirit Days 2016 had broken!!! For the next two days, the Blue Jedis and the Green Wizards battled it out in the friendliest of competitions. From the ballfields to the waterfront everyone had a blast! The cheers seemed endless, the plaques made by our campers were awesome, and the CIT’s set the tone for everyone. We even had one of the closest KAOS races ever.Unknown

When it was all over and the echoes of the final cheers faded in the night sky, Adam read the poem which revealed the Spirit Day winner. In the end, the winning team was…Laurel South, because everyone enjoyed their Spirit Days and were excited to reunite as one camp family.

We’ve passed the midway point of the summer, but there is still plenty of fun on the horizon! Stay tuned for future updates.

What a Council Fire Means to a Camper

Camp may be continually changing, but the traditional council fire has remained a constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a council fire brings back a flood of memories for many campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome and a carefree time. Nothing captures the spirit of the camp experience quite like the “snap-crackle-pop” of a hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without council fires. After all, the traditional council fire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night, it represents tradition, togetherness and so much more.

LS 3Tradition

For as long as anyone can remember, friends and family have gathered around fires to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. It’s a way to connect you to the past, and to enjoy the present. Not only is sitting and enjoying a fire a great tradition, but building the fire is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, flashlights or smartphones. In an ever-changing world, this connection to the past is invaluable.

And of course, no mention of council fires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.

TogethernessLS 2

Another concept council fires represent is togetherness. Council fires are a time for winding down through songs, skits and stories. Many campers feel tired after a long day of activities, but you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight.

…And of Course – S’mores!

Almost everyone’s favorite part of a campfire: S’mores! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes a bit of work and commitment. Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and Hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe, roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring fire is something nobody forgets.

Five Reasons Campers Would Win “The Hunger Games”

Surely, many of you have seen “The Hunger Games” films or read the books. For those who haven’t – imagine a post-apocalyptic world where 16 citizens are pitted against each other in a battle to the end. Everyone who has heard of “The Hunger Games” has surely thought about their own strategy and technique they would use when participating…but how would campers fare? From archery to camping skills, here are 5 reasons campers would definitely win:

1. They Use Teamwork

Campers know better than anybody that teamwork increases the odds of success no matter what you’re doing. Being comfortable working on a team and trusting in others to do their part takes guts; whether you’re fighting for your family in the Hunger Games or coming up with an act for the next campfire.

2. They Know How to Hit a Bullseye 

What do medieval knights, Hawkeye and summer campers all have in common? That’s right — unbeatable archery skills! Katniss might get a run for her money if she participated in a camp archery competition — some campers are seriously sharp shooters. Knowing how to use a bow and arrow is a rare skill in this day and age, but it’s no mystery to anyone who has gone to camp.

3. They’re Resourceful

One of the biggest challenges of “The Hunger Games” is making do with what you have, and using creativity to solve problems. Campers use their imaginations all the time; whether in theatre, crafts or in the cabin — creativity is abundant. Needless to say, being resourceful would be no problem for campers.

4. They Know How to Camp Out

As if being on the run and fighting defying odds weren’t enough, the contestants of the Hunger Games also have to survive for days on end in the wilderness — sleeping under the stars, making shelters out of branches, and always planning ahead so they have access to their basic necessities. Luckily there’s no real risk at summer camp, but campers still get to practice the fun side of wilderness survival skills. From learning to start campfires to exploring nature and wildlife, exposure to the skills needed to have a blast in the great outdoors is a huge part of camp life.

5. They’re Loyal to Their Friends

Last but not least, the biggest and best part of camp life: friendship. It’s friendship that saves Katniss at the end of the film (spoiler alert!), and it’s friendship that brings campers back to summer camp year after year. Katniss shows that she’s willing to give up everything for her friends and family. Campers learn that friendship isn’t just about taking — it’s also about giving back, volunteering, and always being ready to help others.

Camp Crafts: Keeping the Arts Alive

Summer camp isn’t just about campfires, sports and jumping in the lake. From ceramics to theater; jewelry making to painting and drawing, camp has activities available for anyone and everyone!

Art Offers Variety

Camp is a hands-on place, so it makes sense that the hands-on approach applies to all camp activities. Painting, ceramics and other studio arts give campers a chance to slow down, zone in and get their hands dirty in a creative environment. Camp is full of creative outlets and everybody gets a chance to try out different mediums until they find the one that speaks to them.

Theater Brings People Together

Theater is a great way for campers to practice team organization outside of a sports environment. The end product is usually a little on the goofy side (this is camp after all, not Shakespeare), but what’s really valuable about the activity is applying those team-building skills to everyday camp life.

The Arts Foster Creativity

No two campers are the same and thus it makes sense that no two pieces of art are the same. Whether drawing a picture, creating a necklace or molding a bowl, creativity is at work. There is something special about following the same instructions as the person next to you, but ending up with something completely different. This self-expression allows for campers to think “outside the box”.

Self-Expression Builds Confidence

Ultimately, the goal of creative activities at camp is to build confidence through self-expression. The arts have always been a safe place for campers to express what they have on their minds. No matter the discipline, every camper gets a chance to show their own unique creative spark.

Camp isn’t just a fun place — it’s a creative place too! So get creative in the arts. There’s no better time than summer to make something spectacular!

Baseball Fever at Camp

Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd!

Baseball…generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game. Much like camp, baseball is something that many take for granted as a part of our childhood. It should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most anticipated activities, but what is it that makes baseball so special?LS 5

The Thinking Person’s Sport

Everyone has their theories, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, requires a good amount of thought. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the game is a series of split second decisions. Baseball requires more planning for the future and half the game is spent between plays. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead. As it turns out, the anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.

Taking the Time to Learn

The leisurely pace of baseball makes it well-suited for players of all abilities. While the sport requires concentration and focus, it’s also a slower game, allowing for a better learning curve. Beginners can take their time and learn all the game’s nuances, while experts can continue to perfect their craft. Everyone has the ability to enjoy.

IMG_1259Room to Breath

Everyone needs a little room to breathe playing sports or in everyday life. While at camp you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Baseball is very similar. Sometimes the game is action-packed, but sometimes it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. Not only are you going to be able to cheer on your teammate, but you’ll be able to use that time to get ready for your turn.

 …and when your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!

Tips for Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

Thinking about what you’ll be doing this summer? If you loved camp as a kid and are too old to be a camper, think about applying to be a counselor! Afterall, a successful camp depends greatly on its staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to connect with campers and fellow counselors…form friendships and make memories!
  1. Get ready to be excited about everything!Campers will feed off of your energy! You’re their role model for the summer, so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!
  1. At camp, time moves quickly! When you arrive for Staff Orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away…I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the end of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!
  1. LS 2Prepare to be enthusiastic about everything! From making the best friendship bracelets to playing others in Ping Pong, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Enjoy it as this is one of the ways your group shows pride!
  1. Expect to leave camp a changed person in some way! The summer will have a profound impact on you; the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but a summer at camp will change you for the better!

How to Survive Digital Detox at Camp

Ah camp, with all its beautiful sounds — shining stars on a clear night, the whistle of the wind in the trees, the splashing of campers jumping in the lake — one thing you won’t hear: the gentle “ping” of Instagram notifications. A summer at camp means digital detox!

Depending on how technology-dependent a camper or counselor is, that’s either great news or serious cause for concern. Don’t worry — even if you miss checking Instagram every five seconds, you’re bound to benefit from a little analog “me-time”. After all, countless studies have shown that constant social media and internet exposure can have negative effects on things like concentration, memory and even basic happiness.

So here are a few tips for keeping sane without your phone in your pocket.

Keep a Journal

Journaling is your number-one weapon in the fight against digital withdrawal. People have been using journaling as a way of daily reflection long before Facebook’s “what’s on your mind” prompt or Twitter’s “What’s happening?” Think of it as a Facebook update for your future self.

Write Letters or Postcards

We often seem to forget that email isn’t the only way to keep in touch. Receiving a piece of snail mail in the mailbox brings a smile to anyone’s day. Just doodle a picture and throw in a “miss you!” on a postcard and drop it in the camp mail. Done!

Stay in the Moment

Staying in the moment is easier said than done. Being able to “quickly check Instagram” can turn your phone into a social crutch. Camp offers you a chance to let that bad habit go — and when you can’t look at your phone during down time, you’ll find yourself making real connections with the people around you. Next time you want to share “what’s on your mind,” try sharing your thoughts with a person instead of your Facebook.

Social media can be great and there’s a time and place for it; but you’ll be surprised at how great you feel when you take a little digital detox.

Living in the moment at Camp Laurel South: A Counselors Perspective.

 

It was midway through the third week of summer camp when I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.

…Or what week it was.

You know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy in months.

After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?IMG_6403

Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.

After a long school year of classes, homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.

“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.

…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — keeping my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.

Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. It’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.

So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!

However, this isIMG_0504n’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the activity you’re rushing to that’s so much fun!

There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!

Honestly, the only date any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!

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