Forever Changing, Exactly the Same

Camp Laurel

Forever Changing, Exactly the Same

 

Camp meets campers exactly where they are. It has a unique way of providing campers with exactly what they need, sometimes before the campers even know they need it. Camp Laurel has a way of being the perfect combination of excitement and relaxation and has been that way for over 60 years.

Over time, a lot has changed at camp, but more has stayed the same. Camp always transforms to meet the needs of the campers who come each year. The style of bathing suits may have changed, but the memories created in the lakes stay the same. The cabins may have been without porches then, but the stories and late night conversations inside of them were as special then as they are now. The feeling that Laurel gives campers throughout the summer never changes.

If campers from last summer were to sit down with campers from 20 years ago, they would have a lot in common. They could trade stories about competing in College Days and bust out lyrics to some of Laurel’s most popular songs. Campers from both eras would be able to reminisce about the delicious camp food, the campfires and all of the different sports and activities that filled their days. Even though a lot of time has passed, campers from 20 years ago would recognize camp as a place where they felt cared about, understood and accepted. Campers from last summer would be able to talk about new activities, updated cabins and facilities, but would be familiar with the feeling of acceptance and encouragement that is the foundation of Camp Laurel.

Camp must have a sense of flexibility and growth to cater to new campers while holding on to its foundational values and traditions.  Camp Laurel is constantly changing and improving, but will always be committed to being a place of friendships, fun and life-long learning.

Summer Camp Improves Self-Confidence

Laurel South

Summer Camp Improves Self-Confidence

Nothing’s better than walking into your first day of school with confidence and a positive attitude.  Knowing you look good, feel good and have everything to make this an awesome year is a great way to start school.

Spending the summer at camp can really improve a camper’s self-confidence. Every day, they are surrounded by people who support and encourage them. Kids who come to school from a summer at Laurel South have something different about them. They’re eager, self-confident and ready to be the best they can be.

Camp teaches campers they are funny, worth listening to, and that they make good friends.  They learn that they have something to offer others around them.

It happens slowly, and most of the time kids don’t even realize it, but at camp they are constantly being exposed to new things, encouraged and supported.  They take the experiences and lessons they learned at camp and apply it to their everyday life back at school.  They feel capable, empowered and self-confident. With this attitude, they can conquer the school year and any other obstacle that is in their way.

Spending a summer at Laurel South is a great way to instill self-confidence in every camper, and provides them with a great foundation to start school every year.

The Unique Camp Perspective

One thing parents love so much about camp is that it takes campers out of their comfort zones in many ways. Not only are campers eating and sleeping in a new place, but they’re also trying games and activities that are new to them, and working with people they’ve never met. This shake-up of their routine does wonders for their social, physical, and emotional health. Camp also 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 good ‘ol fashioned fun.

America’s Finest Summer Camps immerse campers in a world unlike anything they are used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers quickly learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend over having 50+ comments on their Instagram picture. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all of the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers who used to find their joy in material things now look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.

Camp is a big place, full of big adventures and big fun. But in the midst of all of that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From quiet time on the lake before the camp gets crazy, to the 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 their Facebook or taking 20+ selfies on the way to school. Rest assured, parents, that 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, camper’s 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 here, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.

Taking Your Skills to the Next Level

Camp Laurel

Taking Your Skills to the Next Level

 

During the school year, athletes, artists and dancers devote hours a day to their skill. Kids see significant improvements thanks to the time commitment they put toward their favorite activities. But imagine what they could do if they had seven weeks to devote to learning, practicing and improving the craft they’re so passionate about? Camp offers campers an extended period of time to focus on their interests in an encouraging and positive atmosphere.

Being trained and encouraged by the counselors at Camp Laurel is one way campers can improve their skills. Each activity is led by a counselor who is not only knowledgeable about what they teach, but passionate about it, too. At camp, the new environment can give the activity new life. Campers see their activity from a fresh perspective which helps keep their engagement level high.

 

Some campers come to camp to focus on one sport or skill, while others like to mix it up. Campers also don’t feel they have to commit to one sport or activity due to time restraints. Whether they choose to work on a specific activity or want to jump around and try a little bit of everything, a summer at Camp Laurel provides campers with plenty of time to take their skills to the next level.

Inspiration is All Around Us

 

Brant Lake Dance Camp

Inspiration is All Around Us

March is the biggest season for Dance in New York City. It’s exciting and inspiring. So, in spite of the “March in like a Lion and out like a lamb” weather, I love to go. Whether it’s the Paul Taylor Dance Company, AIley II, NYC Ballet, ABT, Dance Theater of Harlem, or, less famous companies like BalletNext, Sokolow Theater/Dance Ensemble or Pigeonwing Dance, there is something beautiful and inspiring for everyone.

 

Every company is featuring work of a new choreographer, a theme especially dear to our hearts at Brant Lake Dance Camp. We at BLDC know that inside every young dancer is a voice waiting to be heard. Our young choreographer course, Enchoreo, is a wonderful place for our young women to explore their creative voices. Some of their inspiration comes directly from their surroundings, a cool breeze through pine trees or a seed from a performance they saw back in March. It may have been a turn led by a shoulder at a Paul Taylor performance or an impeccable series of leaps at the NYC Ballet or a dip performed by Pigeonwing Dance or maybe it was the way that guy on the train took his seat. 

 

Inspiration is all around us. Especially, this month in the NYC dance scene. Go see some!

 

Camp Friends are Forever Friends

Laurel South

Camp Friends are Forever Friends

Something camp friends will always appreciate about each other is the feeling that friendship is a two-way street. At camp, everything is about giving to the community; maximum enthusiasm, maximum caring, maximum friendliness. Everyone strives to give 100% at all times, because 95% isn’t enough to make the experience unforgettable. Camp taught us that community means everything.

The special spark that makes a person who they are will never really change. However, there is a noticeable maturing that happens for campers. The class clown becomes more thoughtful. The dreamer becomes more attentive. The quiet one learns to come out of their shell.

Ultimately, camp teaches how to care for others the way we wished to be cared for ourselves. It’s a value that sets “camp people” apart from the crowd. Campers become each other’s families. When a birthday comes around, campers get as many cards, calls and texts from camp friends as they do from family. We know camp friends can be just as dependable as family.

They say you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. And when you pick your friends at camp, you stay friends forever.

How Camp Makes Kids Better Eaters

 

For some lucky families, dinnertime is an enjoyable and relaxing time to connect with family. For others, it’s like World War III. Whether kids are too busy chatting about their day to eat, or refuse to eat anything remotely healthy, keeping kids fed can be a challenge for many families.  Many parents are surprised to hear that when their kids go to camp, they’re more likely to try newer, healthier foods than they would at home.

Spending the summer at camp means kids are active and busy from morning ‘til night. They are running from activity to activity, and are burning calories without even thinking about it. They need to be constantly refueled, and camp makes sure they’re putting good stuff in their bodies. At America’s Finest Summer Camps, campers are sometimes more likely to try a new food because their friends are eating it, which opens their minds to trying new things. It’s a good kind of peer pressure.

 

Kids also become more responsible for their eating choices.  They don’t have parents choosing and prepping every single meal for them, so they are responsible for making balanced and healthy choices. They have access to homemade options throughout the day as snacks and are given multiple healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Soups made from scratch and a colorful salad bar encourage campers to make balanced and healthy choices. They are also encouraged to stay hydrated with water throughout the day.

Kids aren’t deprived of a sweet treat here and there, but they learn about balance. They eat well throughout the day and stay active, and learn that indulging in a dessert is perfectly fine in moderation.

At home, it is easy to get into a weekly dinner routine consisting of the same meals that kids will like (Taco Tuesday, anyone?!) While this makes dinner time a little easier for parents, it doesn’t give children the opportunity to try new foods. At America’s Finest Summer Camps, campers are exposed to new foods on a daily basis and are encouraged to try them! They are usually pleasantly surprised that they like quite a few of the new foods that they try!

It’s important to teach children from a young age the importance of nutritional responsibility. Providing them with new foods to try and encouraging them to find a balance is what they eat, drink and do will create healthy adults who value good food and living a healthy lifestyle.

International Women’s Day

Brant Lake Sports Academy

International Women’s Day

Did you know that March 8th is International Women’s Day? Who are the mentors and leaders in your life? From teachers to coaches, celebrities to parents, there are many people who can influence your life in positive ways. 

 

At BLSA, our coaches are role models both on and off of the field – a person looked to by others as an example. Their values, attitudes and behaviors are inspiring to our campers. We hope that each camper brings something they’ve learned from our coaches home with them to be used in their daily lives. 

 

Celebrate International Women’s Day – who is that special woman in your life?

It is OK to Act Your Own Age

 

 

How camp allows kids and young adults to enjoy being young.

Many first time parents are guilty of rushing their babies from one milestone to the next, pushing them to sit then crawl then walk, while seasoned parents have learned to appreciate each step and understand how fast each stage flies by. As kids grow, they too can find themselves wishing their childhood away, always wishing they were older and on to the next stage of their lives. In this fast-paced world, kids are hurrying through the most joyful times of their lives in pursuit of freedom and independence, and before they know it they’re paying bills and reminiscing about “the good ‘ol days”

Camp strives to meet kids right where they are; to embrace their innocence, their goofy-ness, their awkwardness and their curiosity. 

 

 

Camp is a safe place for kids to act like kids without the fear of being judged. America’s Finest Summer Camps is serious about fun and has become a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. Instead of taking selfies and worrying about where they fit in with their peers, they are chasing lightning bugs, judging belly flop contests, singing songs around a fire, and putting on shows. They are being kids, which is exactly how they should be spending their summers.

And kids aren’t the only ones acting like kids. Camp counselors come back year after year because of the freedom and joy that comes from being at camp. Camp counselors use their summers at camp as a way to escape the rules and restrictions of adulthood and embrace their inner child. They play games, dress up, sing songs and fully engage with the campers every day. They use this time to free themselves from the rigid expectations of their everyday lives and participate in the activities that make them feel like a kid again.

The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. With clubs, sports, family obligations and school expectations, kids can be bogged down with responsibilities that take the fun out of being a kid. Although a healthy balance of work and play is vital for growing minds, the summer should be a time where kids can relax a little and enjoy this fleeting time of their lives. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, getting dirty, trying new things and being silly. And that is exactly what America’s Finest Summer Camp aims to offer each and every camper.

Inclusivity at Camp

At America’s Finest Summer Camps, we strive to create a culture of kids and teens that respect themselves and others. Everything we do is based on giving young people every opportunity to interact with other people in a healthy and positive way. Every day, campers learn to solve conflicts, share their feelings, listen, and communicate effectively; skills that are vital to becoming a productive member of society. And in a world where so many kids report feeling left out and alone, we’re determined to help create a culture of “includers.”

Inclusivity is a foundational element at camp, and from day one campers are taught the importance of teamwork and making everyone feel welcomed. In a place with this many people, there are bound to be personality conflicts, but we welcome these as opportunities to teach respect and acceptance. Everyone is welcomed to camp with open arms, and a friendly and welcoming attitude is instilled into everyday culture.

When we hire counselors, there are a few things we look for in regards to character and personality, and an attitude of acceptance, respect and inclusivity are some of them. Our counselors and staff are trained to lead activities that make everyone feel included, and to notice signs in campers that could signify that they’re feeling left out or lonely. Campers also see counselors interact with other groups and staff members and learn to model their positive and inclusive behavior. There is no “us vs. them” mentality at camp (unless it’s all in fun during a game or competition!) and even good sportsmanship and teamwork are a top priority.

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One of the coolest things about camp is that the options for sports, arts, activities, and adventures are endless. There is not a one-size-fits-all type of camp; it’s a place where kids with all different levels of abilities and strengths can find a place where they belong. Everyone finds their place at camp, and is encouraged by other campers and staff to be the best versions of themselves.

Camp is a place where boys and girls feel like they belong.  After a summer at camp, students head into the school year with an eye and a heart for others. They learn to build others up and make everyone feel included. If you were to take a peek at campers as they enjoy a meal, you’d never guess that they were strangers before; the connection and relationships that they build at camp are based on respect, communication, and inclusivity.