Camp Laurel South Blog

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Resilience

re·sil·ience | rəˈzilyəns | noun | 1.the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Camp has this incredible way of impacting so many people in so many different ways. When campers think they are spending the summer simply having fun, they often have no idea the character, social skills and self-confidence they are building at the same time. Camp helps foster empathy toward others. It makes them self-aware. It makes them responsible, kind and brave. It also makes them resilient.

Campers are pushed (gently) out of their comfort zones every day when they are at camp. They are encouraged to try and new things. Sometimes they make mistakes, but campers are taught that the only time you fail is when you stop trying. Because of this attitude, campers learn to pick themselves up and brush themselves off. They learn to face adversity — a skill they carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Counselors teach campers that being tough doesn’t mean you’re void of emotions. You can be brave and scared at the same time. It’s okay to cry, feel frustrated, even walk away if you need a break. It’s okay to ask for help. Campers face different kinds of challenges all summer, from attempting the ropes course, swimming for the first time, conquering stage fright or just introducing themselves to new people. But every time they face a fear, even if they struggle, they become a little more resilient each time. They learn to embrace stepping out of their comfort zone.

Self-confidence is not something that comes naturally to all campers, but it is something they develop after a summer at camp. They naturally begin to see themselves as capable, smart, brave, athletic, kind, interesting and strong. It sets a solid foundation for the people they are becoming.

Camp helps mold campers into confident and resilient individuals, all disguised as the best summer they’ve ever had.

The Value of Communal Living at a Young Age

We’ve all heard horror stories of not-so-great college roommates; the ones who are dirty, irresponsible, rude or have no self-awareness. It raises the question, if these people would have been exposed to more communal living experiences growing up, would they be better roommates as adults? Living with others is a skill that many children only learn from living with their families. Many children never share a room or living spaces with people other than their family until they go away to college. So, it’s no surprise that these children may struggle when it comes to etiquette and social norms that come with communal living.

Spending a summer at camp is a great way to prepare your child for the realities of living with other people in their adulthood. It helps them become aware of their surroundings and the way they impact others.

Early risers learn to occupy their time quietly and respectfully in the mornings without waking up others. Night owls learn to keep things quiet once it’s time for “lights out.” Children who are used to being disorganized at home learn that their messiness affects others when sharing a cabin, and they begin to learn the importance of organization and cleanliness. Sharing a cabin also teaches campers to respect property that is not theirs, such as the beds in the cabin, the bathrooms, etc. They learn to be aware and careful about how they treat things that are not their own.

From day one at camp, campers are taught about their roles and responsibilities as a member of a specific cabin. Counselors know that this may be a camper’s first time living with others, so they use gentle reminders and guidance to help campers keep their personal spaces tidy, stay organized, and to respect the other campers around them. Every day at camp is a new opportunity to learn valuable life skills and prepares them to be respectful and responsible roommates in the future.

Living together with 8-10 peers gives campers the chance to learn how to deal with different personality styles. It gives them a chance to practice their communication and conflict management skills.

Nobody goes into parenthood with a goal to raise a “nightmare” roommate. All parents want to raise kind, considerate, self-aware human beings who others like being around and, eventually, living with. Gifting your child with a summer away at camp is about more than sports and campfires. It is about learning valuable life lessons that will help them become a more productive member of society.

Your child will thank you. And so will their future college roommates.

The Impact of Camp Friends

Salmon Rushdie once said “Friendships are the family we make – not the ones we inherit.” Mr. Rushdie must have been a camper because no quote better epitomizes the relationship between camp friends. As anyone who went to camp knows, camp friends become your family before you’ve even realized. And similar to your family, your relationships are like a roller coaster ride. You can hang out and laugh in the cabin one minute and argue over some minuscule issue another; yet through it all you know camp friends are there for you, no matter what

Camp friends are unlike any other friends and help shape who you become as a person. Their significance is immense and immeasurable; here are a few reasons why they are so impactful:

_mg_4223Camp Friends Tell It to You Straight

Whether in moments of frustration or moments of merriment, your camp friends are honest. They will tell you the truth without second thought. This is not because they don’t care, it’s actually the opposite. Your camp friends will point out your weaknesses, but always in a constructive way. They aren’t attempting to hurt your feelings, instead they are trying to help you grow. With their assistance you can begin to turn these weaknesses into strengths and become your best possible self.

Camp Friends Are with You Through It All

Your camp friends have seen you at your best and at your worst. They’ve seen you score the winning goal in an intercamp and they’ve seen you with a cold in the Health Center; and through it all they’ve held your hand, cheered you on, and pushed you in the right direction. It’s easy to be there for someone when things are great, but when things are tough is when camp friends thrive. They know how to make you forget the bad and move forward with the good. As stated earlier, camp friends will take you at your worst and help you turn things around so you can become your best possible self. With them in your corner, nothing can keep you down.

week-3-favorites-75Camp Friends Last Forever

Possibly the best thing about camp friends is that they don’t just make an impact and leave. They are with you through your life, even after you time at camp has ended and continue to help you better yourself. Whether you talk once a day, once a month or even once a year, their loyalty is unmatched. Many even evolve to become your college buddies, travel companions, post graduate roommates and everything in between. They continue to help you thrive in different stages of your life, but no matter what they become, they will always be your camp friends first.

Taking the Camp Spirit Home

When camp comes to an end, you pack up your duffels and head home to get ready for another busy school year. When you leave, you leave with a lot more than you came with. Your journal’s full of memories, your phone (which stayed at home) is full of new numbers from all of your new friends, and you leave with a new sense of confidence and independence that you only get when you spend a summer at camp.

week3faves-105There are different ways campers bring a little piece of camp spirit home with them. You may find yourself humming one of the whacky camp tunes as you clean your room, which will bring back memories of campfires and canoeing on the lake.

You may find yourself digging through your laundry bag to find your super comfortable camp t-shirt, the one that reminds you of scoring the winning goal or laughing until you cry alongside your best camp friends. You may search your room for your beloved camp hat or sweatshirt, as the perfectly worn-in feeling brings back warm memories of summer adventures.

Your family members may notice that you come back with a new sense of confidence, a new passion for sports or the arts, or a brand new sense of independence. They may notice that you came home with the camp spirit still dancing inside of you. They may notice you are happier, more active, and more willing to try new things. A lot happens at camp that causes changes and shifts within you, and it’s impossible not to take those experiences and lessons back home. Shy campers may find it easier to make new friends, outgoing campers may learn to find comfort in quiet time and connecting with nature. Camp has this special way of exposing campers to a side of themselves that they may not normally see. This is the spirit of camp that comes home with each and every camper.week-3-favorites-7

And next summer, when you come back, you’ll be amazed at all of the new things you take home. Year after year, even after you think you’ve experienced everything camp has to offer, you still come home with something new each summer. You may learn that you don’t need to be constantly connected to Wifi to feel connected. You may learn that there is something special about spending time on a great lake in Maine. Every summer, campers take a little something extra home with them that stays with them for the rest of their life.

Lucky for you, a lot of the camp spirit that you take home with you, and carry with you for the rest of your life, won’t take up any extra space in that camp duffel.

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?

Way Too Quiet

LS 1It seems like just yesterday we arrived in Maine, waiting for our Pre-Camp group to arrive and to start setting up for the summer.  In the blink of an eye, we have said our goodbyes to the greatest campers and finest staff anywhere.

We had such an amazing summer!  To our staff: Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.  To our families: Thank you for allowing us to spend 3 1/2 weeks with your wonderful children.  Please know that we recognize the tremendous leap of faith on your part and strive every day to earn the your trust.  And to our Campers: You are the reason we do what we do.  Seeing your smiling faces and listening to your laughter all summer fills our hearts with joy that we can’t sufficiently describe.  LS 2To our amazing CIT’s: Watching you grow through the years and become the fine young men and women who set the tone for all of our campers is incredible. You were a wonderful group, and you will truly be missed.  Please keep in touch, and we can’t wait to have many of you join our staff in the years to come.

And while we are sad the summer of 2016 has come to an end, the memories we made will last a lifetime.  We are pumped the countdown to Summer 2017 is now on!  Oh, what a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!!

Down the Stretch They Come

Blog Photo 2 Just a precious few days remain in the summer of 2016 and we’re taking full advantage of every opportunity.

Yesterday we had an amazing time at Funtown! Between the rides, games, food, fun and friendship, our Final “S” Day was awesome. Today and tomorrow are our last two program days of the season.  All of the culminating activities will cap off another incredible summer. We’re so excited for tonight’s performance of Shrek, the Musical. The campers and staff have been working so hard, and we can’t wait to see these all camp productions. Tomorrow is Final Banquet, when we will feast on steak, lobster or vegetarian lasagna. The banquet is followed by our Final Social. Sunday night is our Closing Ceremonies, when songs will be sung, laughter will ring and a tear or two will be shed.Blog Photo 1

Monday is Departure Day. We can’t wait to see and hear the stories as families are reunited. While it always saddens us to say goodbye, we’re excited that the countdown to the summer of 2017 will officially begin!

One Week Left

Blog phot 2It’s hard to believe that we’re down to the final week of the 2016 camp season. A lot has happened since our last post. The 8th Graders had an incredible trip to North Conway, the 6th Grade girls had their own amazing overnight camping trip, Roger had a fabulous time at dinner in Naples with the 7 Year Club, and the 5 Year Club enjoyed their movie morning!

There may be little time left, but there is no shortage of excitement on the horizon! We’re eagerly anticipating Moose Bowl tonight. The idea to take a simple flag football game for our Rangeley boys and turn it into an all camp spectacle has grown every year. From the Blog Photo 3tailgate cook-out dinner, to the campers singing the National Anthem (ending with campers firing rockets into the air), the halftime show performed by our amazing camper dances, the tee-shirt slingshot, the cheering…it has truly become a Laurel South favorite! Our thespians have been working hard for Friday’s performance of  Shrek, the Musical. And we still await Funtown, Final Banquet and all of our culminating activities.

The fun, friendship and excitement will carry on!

At the Midway Point

UnknownIt seems like just yesterday we were greeting all of our campers. Today, we have hit the midway point of the session. We’ve had so many great times and still so much to look forward to.

We had a wonderful Arrival Day and Opening Ceremony…The 6th Grade Boys, Seventh & Eighth Graders had amazing overnight camping trips…The CIT’s had a blast White Water Rafting…Intercamp games and tournaments have been humming…Counselor Hunt remains an Evening Program favorite…Culinary Classes have satisfied our palates…Carnival was awesome…And we’re just getting started!

Unknown-1We have so much to look forward to in the two weeks to come. When Spirit Days will break is anyone’s guess…Moosebowl is coming up…Sixth Grade girls are going camping…our Eighth Graders will venture to North Conway…our incredible production of Shrek, the Musical is coming up…Funtown…the list goes on and on!

We’ve already had a great summer, and the best is yet to come!

One Week In

Blog Photo 1 How quickly a week at camp can fly by! Our first “S” Day was a smash. Saco, Kineo, Baxter and Allagash beat the summer heat with trips to water parks. Saco and Kineo had the run of Splashtown and had an incredible time. Baxter and Allagash has an awesome trip to Aquaboggan. Seventh Grade Nation spent the day cruising around Old Orchard Beach. While all of this was going on, our 8th Graders saw some of the most beautiful sights Maine has to offer during their trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. And, of course, the CIT summer was officially kicked off with the White Water Rafting trip on the Kennebec River.

Blog Photo 2Everyone had an amazing time on their trips, but we love to have the entire Laurel South family back together. Our intercamp games and tournaments are in full swing, and the cast of this summer’s theater production is going to a local performance tonight. Not to mention, our first Fly Fishing expedition of the season is taking off as we write.

As you can see, it may have only been seven days on the calendar, but we pack as much fun into each day and every moment as possible!

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