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Laurel South: My Summer Home

Before my first summer at Laurel South I was reminded of all the things my parents used to tell me: brush your teeth, try new things, make friends…As my bus ventured toward Casco I remembered my tour of the camp the year before. I thought about the activity selection form I completed, all the things we packed and sent, what the cabins were like. I couldn’t help but be excited (and a little bit nervous.) What I wasn’t ready for was how much Laurel South was going to impact the rest of life, and how quickly it would feel like my summer home.

Stepping off the bus I noticed the counselors cheering and smiling. It seemed like hundreds of them were there to welcome me! The energy that met the campers on that first day left a lifelong impression on me. Over the summers I spent at Laurel South, I realized the most important thing is the people. My summer connections gave me confidence, taught me about myself and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. (Not to mention that my counselors were always there to remind me to brush my teeth and encouraging me to try new things.)

Obviously, the best part of every summer is that camp is FUN! Each day is packed with swimming, songs, tennis, waterskiing, laughing, basketball, art and everything else Laurel South has to offer with the amazing backdrop of Crescent Lake. I’ll always cherish the memories created, the skills I learned and the friendships gained. And I’ll always love my summer home!

Keeping the Laurel South Spirit Alive

When camp comes to an end, we pack-up your duffels before you head home to get ready for another school year. You leave camp with a lot more than you came with (like ceramics projects and bracelets — and more bracelets!) But more importantly, you leave with a treasure-trove of memories, lifelong friendships and a renewed sense of confidence and independence that camp fosters.

There are different ways campers bring the Laurel South Spirit home with them. Humming camp tunes, exploring a new athletic or artistic passion, a newfound ease when making new friends…there are many ways that camp affords us the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves.

Laurel South has a special way of revealing a new side of campers even they may not normally have seen or even knew existed. Even campers who return year after year come home with something new each summer. They understand how fortunate they are to spend their summers on Crescent Lake. They feel a profound connection to Maine. They realize they don’t need to be “plugged in” to feel connected. Campers take something extra home with them: the stories, shared experiences, inside jokes and memories. Luckily, the Laurel South Spirit won’t take up any space in your duffel. And that will stay with you for life!

Another Successful Summer

The sun is setting earlier, the nights are a bit cooler and camp is over. After living, playing, learning, laughing and growing together for three-and-a-half weeks, we now reflect on another incredible season. The bonds that were forged at Laurel South are remarkably strong. Camp is a unique place where children and counselors wake up, eat, play and spend the days together with friends all summer long.

The magical thing about summer camp is that it goes far beyond three-and-a-half weeks. Memories last a lifetime, and everything is more than it seems. Playing basketball isn’t just about gaining and improving skills, but also about learning to be a good sport and teammate. Finishing a ceramics project is about following directions and unlocking creativity. Campers conquer their fears and step out of their comfort zones at the Climbing Wall and Challenge Course. In the cabin they build confidence by celebrating each other’s achievements, supporting one another and living together.

The lessons learned at camp translate in the real world. Whether in the classroom, at extracurricular activities or in the community, camp helps us become better students, teammates and friends. Parents: We know you’ll have the chance to talk with your camper about what they learned this summer. As always, we want to thank our campers, camp parents and counselors for another amazing summer!

Sun Set…Sun Rise

What a wonderful First Session we had! From Arrival to Departure and every day in between, we made the most of each day. From Moose Bowl to Katahdin Cup, Lion King to Aladdin, it truly was one of our best summers yet!

For all of our campers who departed, thank you for an awesome time, and we can’t wait to see you next summer. To our incredible group of CITs, thank you all for the positive example you set for our younger campers. Yours was a special group who we’ll remember fondly. We hope to see many of you back as counselors in a few years. To our staff: wonderful job First Session! To our camp families: thank you for the tremendous faith you’ve shown in us. We understand that choosing a camp is no easy task. We hope we exceeded your expectations.

And just like that, our attention turns to the equally amazing campers arriving on Monday! We can’t wait to see you. Get ready for the summer of a lifetime!! Camp…the way life should be!

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.

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!

Camp Brothers and Sisters

…More than tradition…

How do people develop into good role models? Are they easy to pick out? What character traits make them up? Like everything in life, being a good role model takes practice. It’s rarely a responsibility that anyone is initially prepared for, but Laurel South provides campers an experience that will help tremendously.

Campers in Katahdin and Rangeley (7th – 9th graders) have the opportunity to be Camp Big Brothers and Sisters. Their “little” will be their biggest fan! The relationship between camp brothers or sisters is more than just a tradition. It’s one of the first chances at making a difference in someone’s life.  And to be completely honest, it feels really good to have others look up to you!

Building the relationship is the first step in the process. Something as simple as going out of your way to say hi and ask them how they are doing is a great way to start. You could stop by their table at lunch to check in. Or seek them out during all-camp events. It only takes a few of these interactions before they feel connected and ready to be led in the right direction.

Being a role model at camp is so much more than being a good friend. It’s about following Laurel South’s philosophy of being “kinder than necessary”, choosing your attitude even when things may not go your way, and of course, having fun!

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.

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!!

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!

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