Camp Laurel South Blog

Tag Archives: Summer Camp in Maine

Maine and the Great Outdoors

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.

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!”

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!

The “Home” Stretch…

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!!!

Why Kids Need Camp Now More Than Ever

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.

Building Character

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.

The Camp Community

Going to a sleepaway camp has a profound impact on campers and counselors alike. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you’ll never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, members of the camp community will tell you that camp has changed their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationships. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which fosters genuine connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your cabinmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed. The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from across the United States and the globe. The bonds made at camp carry over and solidify throughout the year as counselors travel to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it’s the cheers, the campfires, or the athletic competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished. Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills. On the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.

What I Learned from a Summer at Camp

My mom has this ritual of asking me about what I learned each day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales, Egyptian Pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from camp, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. However, she was surprised at my response.

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time. I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and I even learned how to paint. I felt like I was learning something new every day.

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow on a S’more. When my friend and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and how to bring them into the activity I was doing at the time. I learned how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences without judgment. I learned the importance of having true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect. I learned to live in close proximity with others and how to respect their personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

I learned that I can function without my cell phone and that not everything fun has to have a screen involved. I learned that without a cell phone, I could focus more on the my experiences rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

I learned a lot at camp. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are fundamental qualities that will set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life.

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