Thursday, May 7, 2020

In The Words of 2019 LIT, Griffin Wilson: Moving Through the Years

In my years here at William Lawrence Camp, I have had the joy of experiencing just about everything. When I first arrived as a Junior, I knew a little about camp because of my brother but I was amazed at how close the community was. I was nervous at first but I met somebody just like me. After the first day, I was too excited to go to bed. I tried tons of different activities and all the counselors were fun and encouraging.

Grif Wilson enjoying a period of tennis!
I spent two year as a Junior and then moved on up to a Middler. It was almost as if the new, exciting things were just refreshed. There were new cool counselors, cabins and trips. I went on the Squam Lake trip and there was a massive thunderstorm. Me, Ethan and Charlie were all stuck in a tent with rain pouring all around us. Suprisingly, it was one of the best times I had on a trip. We stayed up until about 1am just talking and fooling around.

As I became a Senior, I was close with the kids all the way back from Junior year. The counselors were more relaxed and you were independent. We had a dance with the girls of Fleur De Lis. I went on the Androscoggin River trip and ended up tipping the canoe but it was still very fun. Being a Senior also allowed me to try out skeet. Overall, my experience was a great one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In the Words of 2019 LIT, Anthony Stigliano: New Activities

Anthony helping WLC celebrate
Camp Kindness Day
I have attended William Lawrence camp for 6 years and have experienced all the activities it has to offer. Going from a suburban neighborhood to camp opened many doors to opportunities I would've never had back home.
            Two of these activities are riflery and archery, some very different sports compared to the norm. They require intense focus and patience in order to get the right shot. They take a lot of practice but are very rewarding and build discipline. On the other hand, ping pong is a fast paced activity which relies on ones reflexes and technique to propel them to victory. Once one picks up a paddle, it is very hard to put down. Almost every camper lines up outside the ping pong tables before meals at the dining hall just to get a chance to play. My personal favorite is challenge course. Everyone attempted to climb a tree as a kid, but usually didn't get very far. At challenge course, you can put these past thoughts to rest with the climbing tower and high ropes courses. At the tower, there are many routes to ascend, all varying in obstacles and difficulty. The high ropes courses also portray may different challenges, and require using ones balance in order to stay high among the trees. Water skiing and sailing are extremely fun, especially if you have never done water sports before. It is exhilarating for the boat to whip you around the lake as you water ski, although it is very challenging at first. However, it is one of the most rewarding activities at camp. Sailing is also hard at first, but is great fun and can be very relaxing or exciting depending on how you approach it.
William Lawrence has many activities that aren't available in our day to day lives, and keeps many. like myself, returning to camp for years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

What is Free Swim and WHHHHY is it so Important!?

Take a moment and imagine the bugle has just blown and it’s the start of Free Swim. Your son is feeling tired from the morning’s activities but wants to hang with his friends. He meets up with everyone outside the cabin and a couple of his friends suggest going to the climbing tower. Your son knows he doesn’t have the energy to climb the tower. He is flooded with different emotions, about being the one who says no to the activity and not wanting to miss out on the fun but also really not wanting to go.  What does he do? How does he handle it?...

At William Lawrence Camp, Free Swim is the time each day where the boys experience absolute control over how they spend their time. After spending the morning and early afternoon in instructional activities and knowing that their evening already has a plan, Free Swim is their opportunity for two hours of unstructured activities. The boys can go from one area of camp to another at a whim. They can hang with one group of friends then join another or even meet someone new. This unstructured time is vital for their development. 

Katie Hurley, LCSW, writes in her article Summertime Solutions: The Benefits of Unstructured Play, “…unstructured play increases executive function skills such as organizing, staying focused, initiating tasks, self-regulation of emotions, and self-monitoring or the ability to keep track of what you’re doing.” Think back to your son standing with his group of friends debating whether to go to the climbing tower or not. He’s learning to regulate his emotions and check-in with his body. Hurley also says, “Through the context of unstructured play, groups of kids learn to share and verbalize their ideas, work together, and resolve disputes.” Your son is going to voice his thoughts and the boys are going to work together to decide what to do. We can provide evidence of that on the ball field, outside the cabin, down at the waterfront, just about anywhere on camp, campers are gathering in small groups and increasing their executive functions while figuring out what to do during Free Swim.

I know there are some parents out there thinking to themselves, “2 hours of free swim? But what if my son gets bored?” Our response to that is, “excellent!” In the Time Magazine article, How We're Endangering our Kids' Imaginations, Melissa Berstein says “…they desperately need more free time to ignite their imaginations, develop a sense of wonder, and discover their passions and purpose. Inventiveness occurs when kids have time for curiosity and exploration.” By allowing the boys to be bored for a few minutes, we are asking them to use their imaginations and creativity to entertain themselves. The Time Magazine article The Secret Power of Play says, “Children who can entertain themselves, or play with one another, are unconsciously learning how to adapt themselves to challenges they’ll face further down the road.” With no structure for two hours, WLC boys need to decide what they want to do and then make it happen, a concept that will be recurring in their lives.

We believe that Free Swim may just be the one of the most important times of growth for your son. Walking around camp during Free Swim you will observe a small group of boys sitting together at the green chairs sharing books, you will see the shy boy challenging himself on the climbing tower, two friends figuring out how to play tetherball, a parade of boys walking down to the waterfront, an exuberant game of gaga, boys lounging on sail boats and paddle boards in the middle of the lake just chatting and enjoying each other and the weather. Wherever you look you will see boys growing, developing and experiencing life. Your don’t have to take our word on how important this is; Alison Hail writes in her article What The Power Of Play Truly Means For Your Child, “Free play has the potential to significantly reshape and strengthen neural circuits of the brain, leading to increased perception and intuition, as well as to greater recall.” And who doesn’t want that for their child!?

Articles Referenced in this blog post:

Written by Jessica Dawson, WLC Camper Development Coordinator

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

In The Words of 2019 LIT, Reece Stevenson: Staff Diversity

A large part of my experience at WLC is the staff from different parts of the world. It adds an entirely different prospective on life and completely changes the way camp is oriented. They are able to help make new activities as well as helps campers from different places fit in.
Reece assisting Noah Weiner in woodworking
            I have been at camp for 8 years and I am now a part of the LIT program and now work with staff from all over the world. And as aforecited they have made my experience as a camper and counselor amazing. Our staff come from all over the place including Spain,  New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, etc. this  has helped me take home a new prospective on life because of the experiences that they bring to camp. An example of this is this year we have a lot of staff from South Africa who taught me about the culture there and the major differences in language and ways of life which made me think a lot about how I live at home. This is an overall helpful experience because I normally dont critically think about my way of life but now I feel as if I am better off after having this introduced to me.
            These staff haven't only affected me but also the entirety of camp. They create new games for the camp and bring old ones from their countries. They create new games for the camp and bring old ones from their countries such as Aussie rules. As well as helping with games they also help kids from outside of America feel safer because they have a counselor who is just as far from home as them. This is also helpful for when they don't speak E  and enriches the William Lawrence Camp experience.
nglish very well and a staff speaking the same language can help with this a lot. Overall these staff add a new experience to camp that couldn't happen without them

Thursday, November 21, 2019

In the Words of 2019 LIT, Ethan Stump: Camp Community

Ethan Stump and camper, Luke Ferrero-Porschetto

Ever since I started coming to WLC, I've always loved archery. With a top notch range, many like to go there to try out something that they have never done before. But I don't just go to the range because I want to shoot some targets, sometimes I would go just to hang out with some of the friends that I had made because of camp.

Back in 2014, when I was eleven, I got to go to my first big archery competition: The Flight of the Champions. Some of the people that I am still closest with today, such as a fellow counselor Nick, and my brother Ryan. In fact, one of the main reasons I was able to get so close to my brother was because of Archery. Before I started going to camp, neither of us really liked each other. But through such a positive Archery community, we were able to become closer. Anyway, in terms of the competition, long story short; acquaintances became friends, and lots of inside jokes formed. And not to mention that we won, because WLC has a great Archery program. After the competition, we had formed a tight community, inside of a tight community, all because of camp.

Although the Archery community has it own little quirks at camp, other activities have these types of communities as well. The challenge course, for example, has a tightly knit group of guys, and so does riflery. And altogether, it creates a diverse sense of community that echoes throughout the entire camp.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

In the Words of 2019 LIT, Dylan Goldman: Lasting Impressions

Dylan helping a camper at the Challenge Course
The community of camp is one that can stay closely knit together year through year. Everyone here has the same goal in mind which is to have fun. Through the diversity of the campers and staff a strong community is built where everyone works to achieve that same goal. During my experience at camp I have  seen how both the staff and campers connect to create bonds that go past the summers at camp.

During my sixth summer at camp I was able to connect with a staff member from South Africa. He and I had a common love for climbing that brought us together. I spent most of my free swims at the climbing tower so I could just hang out with him. The counselor's name is Kyle and he was the one who taught me everything I know about climbing now. At the end of that summer I was in tears because I knew that some of my good friends I had made that summer would not be coming back. Kyle came to reassure me that he would try his hardest to come back the next year. Unfortunately he wasn't able to come back that next summer. After a two year break Kyle decided to come back once again. When I walked into camp this year I was excite to hear that Kyle had come back. I immediately went around trying to find my once favorite counselor and now co-counselor. When I finally saw him the first thing he said to me was, “sorry”. He apologized for something that he said to me three years ago. It just goes to show how much he actually cared about some kid that he met at a summer camp that stuck to him like glue.

The bonds made at camp are ones that stick though the years. My experience with Kyle is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Camp is able to connect people from all over the world that would never have met any other way. The people that camp has to offer are the ones that have the ability to make a lasting impression on each camper that comes through.

Dylan Goldman

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Words of 2018 LIT, Ryan Anastasio

A Success Story for a First Time Camper

Ryan on his LIT overnight hike.
Going to sleepaway camp is one of the best things that I have done. William Lawrence Camp has become a second home and another family to me. I have met countless people in my 6 years here and have developed strong friendships with people all the way from Massachusetts to Spain.

My journey at William Lawrence Camp began in the Summer of 2012. While I did not attend camp that year, I helped drop off my older brother Matt. My first impression of camp was not what it is today. I thought it was nice and was amazed at the height of the climbing tower and the size of the knoll. However, I said that this place was not for me. Leaving home for a long time was a non starter for me and sleeping in a room without electricity and a bathroom was not appealing. When my brother returned from camp four weeks later he talked about all the fun he had. While I knew that he had a great time I still said that camp was not for me.

As 2013 approached my older brother signed up for camp again as well as my younger brother Sam. I had no plans for the summer but I knew one thing, I was not coming to camp. My first year at camp was not planned. I once again went up to camp to help drop of my brothers. When I arrived at camp I was stunned to hear that I would be coming to camp as well. I begged and I pleaded but I was unsuccessful in my efforts and I found out that I would be spending the next two weeks here.

The first few days of camp are not always the easiest your first year. You have to grapple with the idea of no electricity and independent living. After about a few days, I was settled in. While I did not plan on coming my first year at camp, my parents gave me a gift in coming here. At camp I have learned skills such as how to shoot a rifle, how to shoot a bow and how to sail a boat. While these are great tangible skills, camp gives you many intangible things. At camp I have learned to be more independent. I have learned better social skills and have met hundreds of people from across the world. You are required to clean your area in your cabin and you are allowed to make your own choices at camp.

Every year I come back to camp because of the friendships I have created here and because of the hundreds of skills I have learned. If you are looking for an exciting place full of energy and a place for a welcoming community William Lawrence is the place to be.