I have been at Camp Laurelwood for the past nine summers. Five as a camper, and the past four as a staff member. It’s a great feeling when May rolls around, and you already know that this summer is going to be better than the last. During the best two months of every year, you get to reunite with old friends, make new lifelong friends from around the world, and enjoy life changing experiences at a place we call home.
Nowhere else will you have the 10 best kids you quickly grow to love, and who give you the best hugs and smiles every day. Your day consists of so many things you cannot predict. Whether it be tying your campers’ shoe, or walking back to the bunk after a period off, only to see your campers covered in mud, and all you can do is smile and laugh. Every day is better than the one before, and you get to go to sleep every night, saying that you made a difference for all of your campers that day. You know every day that they will cherish these moments for the rest of their lives. A new challenge comes up more times than you can count. A challenge that you will only get from working at camp, which will teach you more than you could ever imagine. I have learned how work with a team, to have self-responsibility, how to have the best attitude in whatever I am doing, and most importantly, to do what you love to do.
When I leave camp for the summer and go back to college, camp is always on my mind. I am constantly thinking of my campers and friends, and how the only thing I want to do is see them again. Whenever I have a story to tell, it is always from camp. All of my best experiences, my best friends, and my best memories are from this place. There is truly no place like Laurelwood, and there is a reason we all call this place our second home.
“Why does the sticker on your laptop say 06443?” is a question people constantly ask me during the time I spend away from Madison, CT. I tell them it’s the zip code of the summer camp where I grew up, knowing they have no idea just how much those five numbers mean to me. While it may seem bizarre to display a zip code on a laptop, it serves as a constant reminder of why I wait ten months for two every year.
I spent eight magical summers as a camper before launching my Laurelwood career that has taken me from a junior counselor to an Arts & Crafts specialist to a general counselor to most recently a division head. Working at Camp Laurelwood is an experience unlike anything else. It is beyond rewarding to support your campers through every challenge they face and know they’ll always remember it was you by their side. It’s not just a summer job; it’s a lifestyle that comes with memories and lifelong friendships you’ll cherish forever.
Every day at Laurelwood brings something you didn’t expect, and it’s taught me that sometimes the best things in life happen when you aren’t looking for them. Working at camp is about being attacked with hugs every time you come back from a day off, screaming all the lyrics with your campers at Friday night song sessions, and looking at the stars at night knowing you’ll miss every moment as soon as you have to say goodbye.
Working at Camp Laurelwood is crazy. The good kind of crazy: the crazy that is blasting Taylor Swift at 7 am to get teenage girls out of bed; competitive games of the ever-famous “Freezegopher” to decide who stacks the ketchup-stained plates; s’mores, song sessions, and smiles at all hours; and “this was the best day yet” said day after day after day.
It is crazy in the best of ways, and each summer is truly better than the last. Camp Laurelwood has been a part of my life for 12 years—for as long as I can remember. I spent my first eight years as a camper, and the last four as a staff member, working as a junior counselor, a general counselor, and later a division head.
Being a staff member requires constant enthusiasm, great responsibility, endless energy, patience, devotion, and dedication. While this may sound intimidating, at the end of the day it is effortless. I am not saying it is easy—because trust me, it is not—but it comes naturally after a while. It comes naturally because you will come to love your campers, and you will do absolutely anything to guarantee their happiness. Whether that means searching the Mess Hall for the last red popsicle, letting them braid your hair and do your nails 10 different colors (neither ever ends well), or sitting up at all hours of the night to listen to their problems and wipe away their tears—you will do it. You will do it because you want to; because all you want to do is see them smile. And you will change their lives while doing it, whether you realize it or not.
Laurelwood is a place for everyone. Camp has given me the greatest moments and memories, and the best people in my life who all feel the same way. The bonds made here with both staff and campers are like no other. You will grow and change in ways you never imagined possible, and you will give your campers a safe space to do the same.
There is truly nothing like a Laurelwood summer.
"For the past five years Laurelwood has been my home as a staff member; for the past ten it has been my home for the summer; and for decades upon decades it has been a home to my family.
Whether you have grown up spending your summers in Laurelwood bunks or you’ve just lived vicariously through "The Parent Trap" - Laurelwood can be your home too. Working at Laurelwood certainly requires a great deal of responsibility, maturity, compassion, and intuition. Being a counselor will not only further develop those traits but if you share them with your campers, you will make a difference in their lives.
I began my staff experience with an energy-filled, fun-loving group of recently graduated fourth graders in Bunk 7. Five years later, they are taller than me, know exactly what to say for best chances of getting extra canteen, and will never let me forget the time I walked into a tree on the way to ropes. In addition to the endless laughs and eternal silliness, what we have created over these past five years is so special - unmatched to any other experience. As their counselor and, later, division head, my foremost desire has been to make sure that they have the best summer - where they are the happy and safe; where they try new things; where they can learn to understand and love their bunkmates; where they can grow together as a group and grow into the special, strong girls they are.
Little do they know, they have given me, in turn, more than I could have ever asked for or imagined."
- Laura S.