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Developing Leadership at Camp

Today’s world seems to have become ultra-competitive…from the time one joins little league until job application time, everyone is looking for that special something that sets them apart from the others.  Perhaps no trait is more valuable than leadership, and summer camp is a great opportunity for young men and women to develop and practice their leadership skills.

At Laurel South, our campers look forward to finally being in 7th Grade so they can be in Rangeley (boys) or Katahdin (girls).  And, by the way, being able to now opt out of instructional swim is not the main reason.  These older campers become Camp Big Brothers and Camp Big Sisters for our younger campers. They take great pride in educating our younger campers about the traditions that make Laurel South our summer home.  Our 9th Grade campers run camp for 2 days during Spirit Days!

At the end of the summer, our 9th Graders meet with the 8th Graders and explain the importance of having CIT leaders that the rest of the campers can look up to and emulate in the future.  It’s this sense of accomplishment and pride that drives so many to return as staff members!

So, yes, camp is fun.  Camp allows us to unplug, enjoy nature and build lifelong friendships.  But camp also develops leadership qualities that will benefit campers for a lifetime.

The Perfect Place to Unplug

One thing parents love so much about camp is that it has a unique way of shifting the mindset of campers. A summer at camp is a summer away from social media and texting and a time focused on nature, real relationships, character building and fun!

Laurel South immerses campers in a world unlike anything they’re used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.

Camp is a place full of big adventures and big fun. But amidst all that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From the quiet beauty of a bonfire or the thrill of climbing the rock wall, campers learn to look for the little things that add up to make a big difference in their camp experience.

With social media playing such a huge role in the lives of kids and teens, many parents wonder if their child could survive without checking Instagram or taking 20+ snaps on the way to school. Without technology and social media to worry about, kids can focus on what they do best: being kids. They have the entire summer to focus on making friends and having fun and they learn that being in the moment is far more important than finding the perfect filter to capture the moment. Social media has its advantages of course, but at camp, campers learn a valuable lesson: their worth is not defined by how many followers they have or how many likes their pictures get.

Camp changes the way campers see the world. By spending their summers at Laurel South, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.

Teamwork and Independence Go Together at Camp

I fondly remember my summers at camp: living in a cabin with 10 other boys and my counselors, playing sports for sunset to sundown, Intercamp games, Spirit Days, the list goes on. And while I remember those amazing summers like they were yesterday, they were almost 40 years ago! While I enjoyed camp in my time, kids today benefit from the experience more than ever.

Today’s world has become far more competitive when it comes to youth sports. In many cases, the chance to play many sports throughout the year is replaced by the need to focus on one sport. Children no longer play little league baseball until it’s soccer season until it’s basketball season. It seems that, at eight years old, children pick a sport to concentrate on and hope you are good enough to make the neighborhood traveling team. That’s a lot of pressure at a young age.

At Laurel South, children play every sport they want. Newcomers to a sport can learn the rules and fundamentals while experienced campers focus on improving skills. Everyone is met at their respective levels by talented coaches who share their passion of the game. Campers can be part of the team, get ample playing time and learn to love the game.

Children today are overly reliant on technology. Time playing outside with friends has been replaced with screen-time. Often times TV, computers and cell phones replace meaningful play time with others. Camp affords children the opportunity to unplug for the summer, enjoying interaction with their peers and counselors.

Campers also gain a new sense of independence and responsibility at camp. They help keep their cabin and area clean during the summer. They learn to make their bed, put away their clothes and work with their friends to keep the whole cabin clean. They learn to communicate with each to problem-solve. Many parents notice their children come home from camp more confident and independent.

All in all, camp allows children to take a deep breath, relax, have fun, grow as a person, foster friendships and create a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime!

Live in the Moment

Benefits of Being a Camp Counselor

You leave behind your comfortable life and embrace a new routine in a new environment. You hop off a plane into a situation you know very little about. It can be overwhelming at first. But, before you know it, life at Laurel South quickly becomes a little slice of heaven. The people who started as strangers become your best friends and you walk away having made a difference.

Becoming a camp counselor is one of the most beneficial and life-changing career choices a young adult can make. Working at a summer camp teaches you how to adapt to new environments, people and challenges. It teaches you to embrace the simple things in life; to unplug from the outside world and live in the moment.

It’s easy to get stuck in your personal routine, but continued growth is important in every aspect of our life. Where you’re uncomfortable is where you grow the most and part of growing as an individual is to accept that life is forever changing. We should strive to live the width of our life and not just the length of it. To be successful, you must learn how to develop with that change.

Being at camp encourages you to step away from technology and social media. The camp culture exemplifies how to enjoy the present experience and to appreciate the beauty of nature and friendships you make along the way. We have an instinct to look at our phone, texts, Snapchats, Instagram etc. Working at camp helps you develop the habits of “hellos” and high-fives. Instead of staring at your phone, you look up more and when the summer ends, you have an appreciation of being away from it all.

Being a camp counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love. The hard work comes with an unbelievable pay off. A reward that is indescribable. The friendships and memories you make will last a lifetime. Spending the summer months in a place that allows you to wear silly costumes, dance to fun music and laugh a lot is awesome. It will positively change you as a person in ways you never thought possible.

Camp Benefits Everyone

Camp is one of the great positive experiences that can truly alter the course of ones’ life.  Campers and counselors are exposed to new ideas, activities and situations that provide eye-opening opportunities. Campers can try a new sport that might become a passion resulting in making a high school sports team. Counselors might realize that working with children is their calling in life.

Campers from different regions are exposed to new programs and activities that may not be widely available in their area… wakeboarding, equestrian, stand-up paddling to name a few. They may discover a passion for cooking in the Culinary Center or the wide variety of artistic endeavors beyond painting.

Counselors experience new things as they learn to care for others. They’re afforded the opportunity to instruct and coach in their area of expertise. They meet peers and mentors from all over the world – creating a network of people with shared interests and goals.

Campers and counselors learn about kindness, patience and community as they share time, space and triumphs with their cabinmates and friends. Camp provides a place for all to unplug and mentally recharge. A place where we celebrate achievements and embrace learning opportunities. Everyone plays sports; everyone gets up on waterskis; everyone sings around the campfire. Everyone is challenged at the appropriate level and improves, whether in the arts, athletics, acting or adventure. Everyone has a place at camp.

Thank You

 

Camp is so quiet right now! Our campers and staff have departed, and it’s just the year-round team here, working from the camp office and enjoying some rest and relaxation after a busy but incredibly rewarding summer. This time of year affords us the opportunity to reflect on the summer and realize how lucky we are…each and every one of us…to have shared such a special experience.

To our amazing counselors: Thank you for the hard work and dedication you exhibited this summer. Your ability to work incredibly long hours is appreciated more than you know! The enthusiastic care you gave to your campers was truly a sight to see. We hope that, as you re-enter the real world of school or work, you look back fondly on the summer with a sense of pride in what you’ve accomplished.

To our wonderful families: Thank you for the leap of faith you took, sending your children hundreds or even thousands of miles from home to come to Laurel South. We understand what a tremendous honor and responsibility you have given us! We take this responsibility very seriously and base all our decisions on what is best for our campers.

And to our incredible campers: We hope you enjoyed the 2018 summer as much as we did! Seeing your smiling faces; watching you build friendships and creating long-lasting memories; seeing you become more independent and confident — that’s what makes it all worthwhile!

As we said at the end of the session, we’re not sad that the 2018 summer has ended. We look back on it with pride and joy, and we’re excited the 2019 summer countdown is underway!

Spirit Days!

Tuesday seemed like any other “A” Day. We left the Dining Hall after breakfast, ready to head back to the cabins before clean up, Morning Cove and first period. But our CITs let us know this would be no ordinary “A” Day. At that moment, they decided to kick off Spirit Days 2018! For the next two days and evenings, the Blue Sharks and Green Gators took to the fields to compete in the friendliest of competitions. From their very first summer, campers look forward to the day their CIT group has the opportunity to break and run Spirit Days, compete in KAOS (BTW, one of the closest ever), pass on the passion and set the standard for future CIT groups. It was truly a Spirit Days for the ages, and in the end the winning team was…Laurel South! We all had a marvelous time testing our skills in competition, and we were so excited to finally reunite as one camp family.

While we loved the competition, we truly left it all out on the fields. The next day, we fell right into our program schedule, well-rested and ready to tackle the day. Our 5-Year Club had an amazing time on their morning excursion! Our 7th Graders are spending the day at Ogunquit Beach where they’ll see some of Maine’s most beautiful coastline. Our campers in Adventure spent the morning at the Maine Wildlife Park. Inter-camp games and tournaments are cranking, and we have a lot left to look forward to: Moose Bowl…Theater Shows…Rocket Launches…Funtown…Carnival…the list is endless! Until next time, we hope your day is as beautiful as it always is in the state of Maine!

Let the Good Times Roll…

Can it really be that we’re still in the first week? From all the action going on, you’d never guess it! We’ve already had our first “A” and “B” Day rotation. Form the Fields to the Stables…the Theater to the Waterfront…Adventure to Culinary, the sounds of children laughing, singing and cheering fill the air!

 

 

Just this morning, our incredible CIT group departed for their White Water Rafting trip on the Kennebec River! Not to be outdone, our 8th Graders have taken off for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor! Tomorrow is our first “S” Day of the summer, and after our amazing S-Day breakfast, each group will depart on their own excursions! Each day is packed with fun and excitement at Laurel South, and we can’t wait to keep you updated in future blogs. Until then, rest assured that 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!!!

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!

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