It was certainly a quieter July 4th on Crescent Lake over the weekend. We missed all our campers and counselors! Looking back at photos from previous summers, though, reminds us how lucky we are to celebrate Independence Day together in Maine. We’re grateful for the fun events each summer. Sometimes Spirit Days falls on the 4th…or how about a 4th of July Carnival Day? We always have amazing activities planned, culminating with a traditional BBQ cookout and, of course, the greatest fireworks show in all of Maine!
We missed seeing your patriotic face paint and hearing Happy Birthday (Laurel South-style, of course!) for the USA. Most of all, we wanted to share smiles and laughs with all of you – our campers and counselors.
We’re beyond thankful for the energetic and caring community we have. And we appreciate the Laurel South family so much for carrying that spirit forward. We hope you all had an enjoyable and safe weekend. We’re already looking forward to celebrating America’s independence on the shores of Crescent Lake in 2021!
There is so much excitement in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to camp. Filling out activity forms and packing duffels inevitably has me chomping at the bit for summer to start. As the buses roll in, campers and counselors cheer. It’s an incredible scene for returning and new campers alike. The nerves leading up to camp melt away with all the high-fives and hugs that happen instantly!
Songs and Cheers
They’re silly. They’re fun. And they’re catchy. Camp songs are stuck in my head all year long. I don’t realize I’m humming Where I Wanna Be while doing homework. The Kennebec and Kennebago Songs, Saco Train, Baxter Slide all make me smile at random. The energy and enthusiasm in the melodies around camp make me smile all year long.
Silent claps, snaps and ‘making rain’ set the campfire mood. Singing No Place Like Camp, arms around your friends is the best. Campfires showcase some of Laurel South’s best talent. Campfires and camp go together like sun butter and jelly. And, of course, we end each campfire with All My Life’s a Circle and House at Pooh Corner.
Nothing beats the Maine night sky. The first time I saw a shooting star was magical. It was also surprising because a cabinmate knew SO MUCH about the solar system. I knew who to sit by when we went stargazing every summer since. Not only did the stars light up the night, but they helped develop a new friendship.
People always ask me about my favorite aspects of summer camp. That list could go on forever: community, independence, friendship, activities, teamwork, facilities, personal growth. Staying unplugged and tuned into the world is a key ingredient for all those benefits. Children (and counselors) spend so much of their year in classrooms and their free time plugged in. One of the things camp people look forward to so much is a change in their environment. And there’s no better place for this switch than Maine.
Laurel South is in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked among tall pine trees nestled on gorgeous Crescent Lake: Maine is the definition of natural beauty. The views of the surrounding forest are a welcome change to the skyscraper backdrop of the big cities from where our campers come. Breathing in the crisp Maine each summer is an amazing experience. The acres and acres of lush green fields give our campers a connection to the nature around them. Campers are also able to take advantage of day-hikes and camping excursions to state parks, Acadia National Park and local spots we’ve been frequenting to for decades.
When campers reminisce about their time at Laurel South they always talk about their “experience” rather than specific activities. They mention that distinct mix of friendship, community and nature. It’s a life-changing experience and one that Maine provides in the best way.
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!”
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!!
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.
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!
Where did the time go?It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming everyone to their summer home, and yet here we are preparing for our Final “A” and “B” Days of the session.
We’ve had quite a few days. Moose Bowl was another instant classic with the Black Bears taking an early lead and holding of the Rattle Snakes’ late push. Wednesday night was our Laurel South production of “Peter Pan”.Everyone involved in the show had an awesome time, and the audience showed their appreciation for the efforts. Yesterday, the entire camp ventured to Funtown USA for a day filled with rides, games, food and laughter. Tonight is the production of “High School Musical.” Our activity areas are all preparing for culminating activities.Tomorrow night is Final Banquet, with Closing Ceremonies on Sunday night.
To all of the parents who will be joining us on Departure Day, we can’t wait to see you as you reunite with your campers! To all of our parents, thank you so much for the faith you’ve placed in us. We understand how much trust you put in us each summer to take care of your children for a month, and we don’t take that lightly! We may only have three days left, but we plan on making it the best three days yet!!!
Take a moment and look around. Whether it’s at a restaurant, the movies, a park, or in your own home, there is one constant – a mobile device. Phones, iPads, and other forms of technology have taken over daily life. It has become impossible to have a simple meal with family or friends without the distraction of technology.
Before the influx of technology, children asked for hands-on presents that fostered creativity and adventure for holidays and birthdays. Remember the excitement when you received your first bicycle? Today, children receive iPhone Xs for their birthdays. While technology has a lot to offer individuals, it can have a negative impact on youth development. Creative impulses and a sense of adventure are diminished as children plug in their headphones and sit inside for hours at a time exploring their latest technology.
This is why kids need camp more than ever. Camp offers children a four- week experience they will never forget. In one summer, concrete memories are made and lifelong skills acquired. Time spent outside in the fresh air with friends teaches children to appreciate the outdoors and the joy of unplugging.
Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace. Soon, our world will be filled with artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. The need to be independent will be diminished but the inherit independence that camp teaches will always be present.
The four weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It’s an opportunity to build character and boost confidence. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. In today’s world, the pressure to succeed at all costs seems to have become the focus, more so than the ideals that promote kindness, empathy, moral compass and self-assuredness.
At camp, children are guided to solve conflict through understanding and compromise. They learn that differences of opinion can be discussed without resentment or anger. Campers learn to talk about their feelings and truly understand the feelings of others. We tell our campers that not everyone will be your best friend, yet we treat everyone with kindness and respect. These are values that will serve them well throughout their school years, in the workplace and in their communities.
At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended), fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they all are, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. We are intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.
Campers return home with more friends, improved skill-sets and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves camp with stronger character, and that we can instill basic morals and ideals that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families each summer.