So Now What?

September 9th, 2014

After the initial feelings of elation that come from having completed their first summer at camp, many first year counselors are left wondering what comes next. For some, the choice to return to camp (or not) is an obvious one. For others, there are many factors involved, impending college graduations or internships, the prospect of a full time job, etc. Others simply need time to process the summer before making a decision. What may have seemed like a one-time-only experience in the moment, proper reflection can give birth to goals that require at least one more summer. Still, some counselors are just too exhausted to even consider next summer without some down-time to rest. During the transition, priorities often quickly shift from camp to academic responsibilities. Although the final decision to return to camp may be months away, fall is actually a good time to make a tentative decision about whether you’re interested in returning and initiating communication with your camp.

Because summer camps recruit heavily during the early part of the new year, they like to have an idea about which staff members have intentions of returning prior to the end of the year. This helps them focus their recruiting efforts. It’s therefore a good idea to contact your camp sometime during the fall to let them know your overall feelings about your summer experience and to express interest in returning the following year.  Although your camp may not have made final decisions about which staff members it will invite to return, having an idea of who is interested in returning is helpful when creating recruitment plans.

Likewise, if you think you might want to return to camp next summer in a different role than you had this season, the fall is a good time toexpress that interest so that your camp knows that you want to be considered for that role should an opening become available. For clarification, it’s a good idea to explain why you think you might be a good fit for your desired role as well. Although it may be obvious to you why you might be right for that role, your camp likely goes through hundreds—if not thousands—of resumes each year. Some proactive notes from you may be helpful.

Making a tentative early decision about potentially returning to camp also gives you more time to prepare for the experience. Even well-seasoned counselors sometimes find themselves scrambling to make summer plans come together at the last minute. The earlier you commit to another summer at camp, the more time you have to financially prepare for the travel to camp. This is of particular importance for international staff who tend to have significantly higher traveling expenses than domestic staff.

Keeping in contact with other staff members is a way to keep camp fresh and the anticipation high throughout the year. It’s also a great way to position yourself to hear news of rideshares or winter join ups among staff.

With a little advanced planning and proactive measures on your part, ‘So now what?’ easily becomes, ‘Now it’s time.’

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My Bunk

September 2nd, 2014

While I am now surrounded by the comforts of home, I would gladly give them all up again just to be back at camp, sleeping in my bunk. I must admit that the first few days of falling asleep in a quiet room, sleeping in my own bed, and waking up without bugles ringing in my ear have been nice but it does not seem to make up for the longing I have for my bunk.

Each summer when all of my bunkmates arrive at camp, we run to our bunk and begin to make it our summer home. On the porch we hang a big welcome sign with all of our names. We unpack our clothes and place them in our cubbies. Then each bed takes on a personality of its own with its bright sheets and blankets, fun pillows and sentimental stuffed animals. As the summer moves on the walls begin to fill up walls with posters, letters and pictures from home. The bunk becomes a disco, a runway, a theater where we perform. We play on the floor with jacks, cards and trade stickers. At night, we lay in our beds sharing stories. When the lights are all out, we continue to laugh and whisper until sleep fills the air. What I miss the most about my bunk is waking up, looking around and knowing that all my friends are there.

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Missing our friends!

August 26th, 2014

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The First Few Days Home from Camp

August 24th, 2014

Another summer is drawing to a close, and the children have returned home from camp. You’ve made a significant dent in the laundry and are beginning to think about school supply shopping. The only problem is that your campers haven’t come out of their rooms since they returned. For parents who are wondering just what they’re doing in there (besides catching up on some much needed sleep), we can offer some insight from the campers themselves.

Looking at camp photos…over and over

One camper recently confessed that the first few days home from camp, she fights off “campsickness” by locking herself in her room and looking at ALL of the camp photos over and over. ‘It helps me to not be so sad about camp being over and to remember things that I’ve already forgotten—especially stuff that happened at the beginning of the summer because so much happens at the end.’

Arranging items that remind them of camp

One mother reported that her child refused to allow her to wash her camp pillowcase because it smelled like camp. A camper further supported this notion by confessing that he brings things home from camp and places them around his room so that no matter which wall he is facing, there is something that reminds him of camp. He even confessed to picking them up and smelling them from time to time so that he can remember what camp smells like.

Interacting with Their Camp Friends

Sure, they have an entire season of their favorite television show to catch up on, but they also have some important reflecting to do. Some confess to immediately beginning some planning for next summer while certain things are still fresh in their memory because ‘once school starts, sometimes it’s hard to just stop everything and think about camp.’ From Instagram to Vines, social media becomes an immediate post camp fix for making the summer just a little bit longer.

Eating…Yes, in their rooms

This may be particularly true if you’ve started to notice a considerable amount of unoccupied space in your pantry. Of course camp food is yummy, but campers assure us that there’s something about indulging in favorite foods that you can’t get at camp after not having had them for several weeks that helps alleviate campsickness.

Making a scrapbook

During a recent discussion about “those first few days” after camp ends, a camper proudly proclaimed that she makes a memory book of the summer using various items and photos that she collected over the summer. ‘I finish it and then spend a long time looking through it to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Then I get out my memory books from previous summers and look at them too.’

Recreating the Camp Environment

A camper shared that sounds of home are sometimes overwhelming those first few days. ‘Camp isn’t really quiet, but home sounds so different. In my room, I can just shut the door and think about what camp sounds like.’ Another camper disclosed that she lays the comforter from her camp bed over top of her non-camp bedding for several weeks because it reminds her of being back in the cabin or bunk.

So there you have it. Words straight from campers’ mouths that campsickness does not always translate to moping. Sometimes it’s just their own way of bringing proper closure to the summer.

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Winding Down

August 15th, 2014

Olympics are over, the Farewell Party has come and gone, Banquet is tonight, the Closing Night Show and Fireworks are tomorrow—all events that signify another summer is winding down. Winding down doesn’t mean the action stops completely, though. Wacky Options and Wayne County Championship games have dominated the past couple of days at Camp Starlight as campers scramble to squeeze in just one more period of their favorite activities.

There is also still a lot of buzz about Olympics. Favorite moments. The break. Sing. Speaking of Sing, campers are still singing their songs as they walk to activity areas. Of course, thoughts have turned a bit toward home as the familiar events that close out the summer have started happening one-by-one and the reality is setting in that the end of Summer 2014 is nearly here. Campers are eagerly anticipating eating favorite meals, watching favorite television shows, swapping stories with friends who attend other camps, and even starting school.

And even though this summer hasn’t quite ended just yet, campers are already talking about next summer. They’re making bucket lists of things to do, planning their Upper Senior year, discussing how excited they are to return as CAs…The words “next summer” begin a lot of sentences right now. More than anything, however, as camp winds down, everyone is savoring those last few moments together, knowing that they’re the last for the entire Starlight family to be together until Summer 2015.

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Olympics Closes with Track & Field

August 14th, 2014

The last big drive of the Olympics for teams to show what they’ve got is the annual Track & Field competitions, which are the final showdowns—and often deciders—each year. A gray morning gave way to an afternoon of sunshine that made the weather perfect for the meets. With the Olympics close and still within reach for all teams, the matchups were fierce. Broad jumps, softball throws, distance runs and relays were hotly contested as campers fueled all of their energy into securing each and every victory to inch their team just a little closer to victory.

After all was said and done in the relays and races, the divisional tug-o-wars were all that remained. In the end, the point gap was a bit too high for the Epic Whites girls to overtake the Blue Invader girls for the overall win. Epic Whites, however, still had much to be proud of having claimed major victories in the Rope Burn and Sing. Although the Epic Whites boys had found themselves trailing the Blue Invaders earlier in the week, their victory in the Apache proved to be a turning point. A Sing victory the following day punctuated the lead that even a blue invasion at the track meet couldn’t eliminate. For the Blue Invader boys, however, the 2014 Rope Burn victory will always belong to them.

At the end of the day, in true Camp Starlight tradition, everyone rushed the lake, first to celebrate victories and then as friends and bunkmates. With another Olympics behind them and the close of another summer lingering, the moment was emotional, and one that is sure to remain a memory for all for years to come.

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Photo of the Day

August 14th, 2014

Congratulations to the Blue Invader Girls and the Epic Whites Boys, 2014 Camp Starlight Olympic Champions! Commendations go out to all campers and staff for a tremendous effort and an outstanding show of sportsmanship throughout the competition.

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Senior Reflections: Epic Whites

August 14th, 2014

Earlier in the week, we featured some reflections from the Upper Senior Girls of the Blue Invaders. As we wind down our Olympic coverage, we also offer these reflections from the Upper Senior Girls of the Epic Whites…

“Upper Senior Summer is one filled with many traditions that we’ve looked forward to for years. Leading cheers, senior floor hockey and Rope Burn are and what we’ve been waiting for. Last’s night’s Rope Burn was EPIC! The most important thing we did was work as a team and stay calm. It was amazing seeing how well we worked together. A lot was going on, but we managed to keep it all together.  Rope Burn was also about taking a step back and watching it all happen. Not just with rope burn, but with all the Olympic events. We tried our hardest, did our best and left everything on the field. We are proud of the lower seniors for stepping up and leading cheers to encourage us. Senior Rope Burn was hands down the best experience of our lives.”

USG 2014 Epic Whites

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Olympic Score Update

August 13th, 2014

The scores going into the final day of Olympic competition…

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The 65th Annual Sing

August 13th, 2014

Author Victor Hugo once said, “The ode lives on the ideal, the epic on the grandiose.” But there was nothing grandiose about the Epic Whites’ dream of fending off a blue invasion at the 65th Annual Sing. Although the Blue Invaders took to the front lines with an Entrance that let their presence be known, in a fairy tale ending that involved a near sweep, the Epic Whites captured the top scores in Set, Costumes, March, Theme, and Alma Mater to emerge victorious.

Perhaps the most crowd stealing moments of the evening, though, were the odes to Sings past. If odes live on ideals, then the annual Sing competition is an ode to Starlight ideals. All five judges of the 65th annual Sing—Jason Glick (Magic White), Scott Beigel (Blue Hawaii), Nora Greene (Prime Time Blues), Megan Panelas (Song Writer-Wild West Whites), and Mauricio Campos (Blue Crunch)–were former Sing leaders or song writers themselves. They each shared a judge’s book and a tune from the year that they lead their team in one of the biggest and most anticipated events held at Camp Starlight each summer. The power of seeing campers and counselors on both the blue and white sides of the Rec Hall put aside their competitive spirit for a moment and come together to join their former Sing Leaders in singing songs that they learned several years previously and, in one case, more than a decade ago, as loudly and with as much enthusiasm as if they learned them yesterday really speaks to the pride that so many have in being part of such deeply rooted and appreciated traditions like Sing. The genuineness of the moment was moving. It also demonstrated that whether the blue team or the white team emerges victorious, Sing really is about the Songs, the best of which live on as anthems in the hearts of Starlighters.

Though it began with an invasion that sparked an epic battle, Sing ended with a happily ever after and another Camp Starlight tradition, Sing Leaders Jason Silberman and Hannah Pereira of the Blue Invaders leading Epic Whites and Rico Reillo and Rachel Simon of Epic Whites leading the Blue Invaders in Sing and Friends.

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