Camp Laurel South Blog

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Down the Stretch…

It seems like just yesterday our campers arrived and we kicked off the 2018 Laurel South summer. In the blink of an eye, though, here we are gearing up for our final “A” and “B” Days of the season. Wednesday’s performance of Peter Pan was truly spectacular! The campers and staff involved worked so hard, and we’re so proud of their efforts! Yesterday the entire camp ventured to Funtown USA, where we rode all the rides, played all the games, ate all the food, had fun with all of our friends and had an absolute blast!

Tonight is Final Banquet. Campers and staff will feast on steak, lobster or vegetarian lasagna, while sharing memories with their cabin mates and friends. Also tonight, our older campers have a chance to shine in the Theater, as they’re ready for their production of High School Musical. We can’t wait to see them perform! Moose Bowl has been pushed back until Saturday night, and the Rattle Snakes and Black Bears are so excited to show the entire camp the level of competition and sportsmanship that makes the evening one of our best traditions! Of course, Sunday night is our Final Ceremony. While we’re sad to see such an incredible season come to an end, we always choose to look at the positive, focusing on each moment we’re together. And, as you can see, we’re going to get every drop of fun out of these last few days!!

The Half-Way Point

Can it really be that we are officially half way through the session?  It seems like just yesterday we arrived, but the sounds of cheering and laughter from the ballfields to the Theater, Crescent Lake to the Equestrian Center, Adventure to Culinary lets us know that we are having another truly spectacular Laurel South summer! 

Yesterday was our first In-Camp “S” Day, and Brad once again hit it out of the park with our now annual Resort Day!  After a delicious continental breakfast and elective morning (including those awesome Bumper Tube rides on the lake) our campers had the opportunity to compete in the Tough Moose Obstacle Race (similar to a Tough Mudder competition), and everyone who participated had a blast!  The afternoon was filled with Saco/Kineo berry picking, a Baxter/Allagash Waterfront Party and special events for Rangeley and Katahdin, followed by boat tours of Crescent Lake.  Our CIT’s spent the day on their Magical Mystery Bus tour, and visited  sites all around Portland.  They had such an amazing day, and they were thrilled to be back home.

At Laurel South, we always accentuate the positives, so we choose to not look at the session as being half over; we look at it as being half full of amazing experiences:  Spirit Days…Theater Shows…Funtown…Carnival…Moose Bowl…Final Banquet, etc.  We’ve got so many things left to look forward to, especially making new friends and building memories that will warm our hearts all year long. 

One Week Down…So Much Left to be Done!

What an amazing first week we had! After our first “A” and “B” Day rotations, we celebrated our first “S” Day. Saco and Kineo made some waves at Splashtown USA, Allagash and Baxter made some more waves at Aquaboggan and our incredible 7th Graders had a ball at Old Orchard Beach. Everyone came back with smiles on their faces, stories to tell and memories that will last a lifetime! We were so glad to welcome back our 8th Graders from Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, as well as our CITs from their White Water Rafting trip. We love that they are able to see some of the most beautiful sites in the country, but we miss them while they’re gone. We’re always so happy to have the entire Laurel South family reunited!

While we’ve already done so much, there’s still so much left to look forward to: Spirit Days…Rocket Launches…Theater Shows…Intercamps…Funtown…Carnival…Resort Day…the list never ends! As always, we’ll keep you updated in future blogs about all the wonderful goings-on in Casco. And remember…It’s always a beautiful day in the State of Maine!

Reunited and it Feels So Good

For the past 11 months we’ve been waiting and counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds. And yesterday, it was here!  What a fantastic Arrival Day we had! With each car, bus and van that pulled into camp, our summer family was reunited. We were giddy with excitement as we met at Evening Cove and Roger officially kicked off the summer with his trademark, “What a beautiful day in the state of Maine today!!”  After a wonderful cookout dinner, each campus spent the evening playing games and bonding before heading back to cabins for some quality time before getting a well-deserved good night’s sleep.

Today is our Moose Stomp Day, a mixture of photos combined with super fun activities like making s’mores at the outpost and bumper tubing on Crescent Lake. Tonight, schedules will be set, and we can’t wait to jump right into first period program tomorrow! This evening is our Opening Ceremony Council Fire, celebrating fun and friendship. We may have just arrived, but we are jumping in right from the start. We’ll make every day count as we look forward to: Moose Bowl…”S” Days…Rocket Launches…Theater Shows…Saco/Kineo IC periods…Intercamp games and Tournaments…Spirit Days…the list goes on and on! We’ll keep you updated in future blogs. Until then, rest assured it’s always a beautiful day in the state of Maine!!

What a Week!

Wow, the summer moves quickly! We may have just finished our first week, but you’d never know it by the amount of fun we’ve already had! We were so glad to welcome back our 8th Graders and CITs last night. The 8th Graders had a great time camping at Acadia National Park and visiting Bar Harbor, while the CITs had a blast white water rafting on the Kennebec River! We love that our campers have a chance to see some of the most beautiful spots in Maine. Our first “S Day” was amazing, as each campus had a unique trip throughout Maine. Saco and Kineo conquered Spashtown, USA…Baxter and Allagash spent the day at Aquaboggan…and our 7th Graders toured Old Orchard Beach. Everyone had an amazing time!

Roger and Dagni truly enjoyed dinner last night with our 7-Year Club. Dinner was great, but sharing memories, laughing and telling stories was the best part of the night! There is so much more coming…4th of July, 7th Grade’s Camden State Park excursion, Spirit Days, Moose Bowl, Theater Shows, Rocket Launches…the list goes on and on! As you can see, each day at camp is jam packed with fun, and we’ll keep you updated in future blogs. Until then, it’s always a beautiful day in the state of Maine!

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!

Benefits of STEM Related Summer Camp Programs

Stem is a popular buzzword—or, more appropriately, acronym–circulating among educational circles, but it might not be a term one might expect to hear within summer camp circles. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, four subject areas to which educators are increasingly striving to give students additional exposure, and summer camps are hopping on the bandwagon. According to the American Camp Association, STEM related activities have been among the most popular additions to summer camp programs over the past five years and for good reason. Summer camp provides campers with an alternative venue to learn in ways that are fun. Classrooms are replaced with the outdoors or facilities designed exclusively for individual programs and class size is vastly reduced allowing campers to be able to take a more intricate, hands on approach to exploring STEM areas through related camp activities. According to the New York Daily News, the average class size in New York, an area in which summer camp is particularly popular, is 25 students. In some schools, class sizes exceed 30 students. STEM related camp programs such as Nature, Rocketry and Radio, are often capped at fewer  than a dozen campers per activity period.  STEM related programs increasingly prove to be among the most popular with campers. So why are children flocking to educational niche programs? There are likely several reasons.

First, summer camp provides an informal, laid back setting. There is no homework. There is no syllabus. There are no lectures. There are no deadlines. There are no exams. It’s completely a ‘participate to the level of your comfort’ environment. All campers are encouraged to try camp STEM related programs at least once during the summer, but some find a new interest or passion and return several times. The ‘participate as you wish’ approach also allows campers to choose how to focus their interests. Counselors, often college majors or professionals in the area that they lead, are facilitators. They are there to encourage and assist campers in channeling their efforts into particular aspect of a STEM related activity if they so desire.

Second, the whole point of summer camp is for campers to have fun. So it goes without saying that camp activities are designed to emphasize fun, even those related to subject areas in which students are traditionally less than enthusiastic during the school year. In that regard, educational niche programs at sleepaway camp aren’t intended to compete with or replace the learning that takes place during the school year, but to enhance it.

Third, there is a healthy mixture of activity. Unlike a school setting in which students move through subjects throughout the day typically in a lecture setting, at least half of the day at a traditional summer camp is spent outside where campers take part in sports and water activities. Many camps also incorporate a designated time to rest into their programming day in order to give campers and staff the opportunity to recharge. So those program activities that could be perceived as educational are mixed in with healthy doses of physical activity and relaxation.  This allows campers proper time and space to both process the activities in which they take part throughout the day and to approach future activities with a fresh mind.

Although traditional summer camp STEM related programs are not intended to replace those offered in schools, they may ultimately be equally attributable to inspiring future scientists, technologists, engineers, or mathematicians by encouraging campers to explore these subjects in ways and to a level that they might not get to do during the school year. Some campers may carry a newfound interest in these subject areas home and take on a new enthusiasm at school, making summer camp STEM related programs an invaluable addition to their program lineup.

Exploration at Summer Camp

Adventure, tradition, fun, and nature are all words that come to mind when one mentions “summer camp.”  One word that doesn’t instantly come to mind, however, is “exploration.” Summer camp is an exercise in exploration.

There is, of course, literal exploration.  Traditional summer camps are primarily located in rural areas, away from the city and suburban settings in which most campers live the remaining ten months of the year.  The natural surroundings are the perfect environment for exploring nature and the outdoors.

There is the exploration of new things.  Summer camp, by design, is conducive in trying the untried.  Campers inevitably try something new at camp: new food, new activities, new ways of doing things.  Some of the newness breeds ongoing new interest while some highlights the joys of routine and tradition.

The exploration of self, while slightly more esoteric is also an important aspect of summer camp.  Campers learn how to be independent at summer camp.  Sure, they’re surrounded by their friends, and camp is a largely social environment.  Being away from parents for several weeks, however, helps children learn how to make decisions and gain confidence in themselves.  From their newly gained independence, they begin to see and understand the value of individuality.

Exploration of culture and tradition is also a prevalent theme of summer camp.  Summer camp is an amalgam of cultures.  Many campers and staff come from all over the United States as well as the world.  Exposure to people from geographic regions outside their own provides an open forum for exploring the subtle nuances that distinguish various cultures and their traditions.

Freedom of exploration is an important aspect of child development, and no place provides more of an open forum for exploration than summer camp.

The “Special” Experience of Summer Camp

Actress Jami Gertz, a summer camp alumni, once said, “There is something very special about being away from your parents for the first time, sleeping under the stars, hiking and canoeing.”  Although on the outset this seems like just another quote about summer camp, the use of the word “special” makes it standout.  “Special” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “distinguishable,” “superior,” or “of particular esteem.” Every camp, when planning the summer, strives to create an experience that sets it apart from other camps.  To those whose exposure to summer camp is limited to Hollywood’s interpretation of it, there may seem to be little that distinguishes one from another.  However, to those who attend or have attended summer camp, each one is unique from others.  For campers and staff alike, to think of the more than 12,000 summer camps throughout the United States as a collective summer experience is to think of all pizza as having the same flavor.  Sure the basic ingredients are the same.  Most pizza pies even look similar.  But, depending on which toppings you add, one pie might taste very different from another.  It’s that special flavor of each camp that gives it that “esteemed” place in the hearts of those who have called it their summer home.  Choosing a camp is more than simply deciding to send your child.  The values, traditions, activities, facilities, staff, and even the duration all play a role in deciding at which summer camp your child will find the most success.

In a couple of weeks, another summer will start, and thousands of young campers will taste summer camp for the first time.  They’ll spend their first night sleeping in a bunk/cabin with fellow new campers.  They’ll bond with favorite counselors.  They’ll try at least one activity for the first time.  They’ll make new friends, learn new songs, and, for the first time, experience life away from their parents.  As Jami Gertz said, it will be “special” as they begin gaining the independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence that are all-important ingredients in creating a life that is “distinguishable.”  Ultimately, however, the role that summer camp plays in the successes of the lives of campers as children and, as they mature, in helping former campers meet the challenges of adulthood does not simply come down to experience but also in the choice of summer camp.  So whether you’re just starting to consider summer camp, have begun searching for a camp, or will be one of the thousands of prospective families touring summer camps this year, be on the lookout for the right mix of ingredients that will create that “special” experience for your child.

 

Eye on the Bullseye

As long as there has been summer camp, archery has been a part of it.  Although the amount of available activities at summer camp has grown immensely since the early days of camp, archery still remains popular.  It’s a classic outdoor sport that doesn’t require the stamina or athletic prowess of, say, soccer, but a good eye, good aim, and precision when firing.   There is a certain amount of satisfaction in being able to see yourself move closer to achieving a goal.  It’s not always apparent that your swim stroke has gotten better since the beginning of the summer, or that your baseball pitch has improved over the past couple of weeks.  Although your counselors and friends may compliment you and tell you that you’re better than you used to be, there isn’t really anything tangible for you to immediately be able to tell for yourself.  With archery, however, there is a target with a bull’s-eye on it.  It’s not at all unusual for campers to begin the summer not even being able to hit the target and then, as the summer moves along, hit and then inch closer and closer to the bull’s-eye.  The closer they get to that bull’s-eye, the more arrows campers want to shoot.

It seems like a small goal, and it is really.  However, it’s still an exercise in goal setting.  Hitting the bull’s-eye requires focus, and being focused requires you to survey your surroundings, determine where you need to aim, and then focus on the details as you attempt to hit your target.  Being successful at archery requires this same effort from everyone.  Campers have no advantage if they run faster, jump higher, or throw harder.  Every camper enters the archery range on a level playing field with the same potential for hitting a bull’s-eye.  Some get lucky, some work hard.  Either way, archery promises a path to success for anyone who is willing to set a goal, take aim, and work hard.  Perhaps that is why after decades of being a summer camp staple, archery remains one of the most popular activities.

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