League Break at Camp Starlight

July 2nd, 2015

IMG_9280For some of the campers at Starlight, college is just around the corner. For others, college seems a distant dream of fun filled football games. And what better way to get into the spirit of pep rally life than the epic leagues breakout? With the help of the CA’s, four teams were declared, and the competition began immediately. Colors red, green, blue and yellow could be seen everywhere for colleges Temple University, Tulane, Southern Methodist University, and the University of South Florida respectively. After a cheer-off where every team gave it their all, an epic game of four corners ensued followed by other great activities. Both upper and lower camp had a blast screaming for their teams and letting their Starlight spirit be heard from miles away. The campers are eager for an amazing summer of league events filled with spirit, competition, and lots of fun.

Opening Night Campfire at Camp Starlight

July 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 7.57.59 AMWhen people speak of camp, there is always talk about the camp family. Now, here at Starlight, everyone is connected through their passion for this place. Although isolated from the outside world, camp allows us to feel closer together. On the second night of camp, tradition tells us that it is time for our camp sisters. These are the older and younger siblings that are by your side for the rest of the summer. These are the people that cheer you up when you just need to laugh a little, or the people who you comfort when you know they’re feeling sad. The oldest camp sister relishes in her leadership role while the younger siblings finally feel like they are truly a part of this Starlight family. Hand in hand, all of girls side walked down to the campfire sight where the night continued. Each division stood up to lead a cheer, hearing their voices ring across the mountains and showing the girls side their Starlight spirit. Next, the upper senior girls continued a long standing tradition, expressing to the camp what being here at Starlight means to them. The campers who have been here the longest lit the campfire and smores were enjoyed by everyone. As the night came to a close, campers were asked to look up to the sky to find a star. Focusing on their star, they where then asked to make a wish for the upcoming summer. The energy in the atmosphere was magical as all of girls side stood together, kicking off the 2015 summer.

Day One at Camp Starlight

June 29th, 2015

2015-06-20 10.27.48Summer 2015 has finally begun. The counselors gathered waving their bunk signs as they excitedly awaited their new campers. The camper’s faces were bright and smiling as they ran from the camp buses and were reunited with friends and counselors and bunk mates, whom they had not seen for almost ten months. Camper’s faces lit up as they recognized some of their previous camp counselors; they were also super excited to meet the greatest staff on earth.

As campers unpacked their belongings and settled into their new bunks excitement was stirring in anticipation for the magical opening night show. The magical evening began by David and Allison leading the performance. Campers were spellbound as all staff members sang along to “Magic to Do”. As per Starlight tradition, the senior girls led the camp alma mater and the rest of the camp joined in the sing along.

Day one at camp was extraordinary with all campers bringing light to Camp Starlight. Camp Starlight is truly bringing magic to the summer and it will follow all campers as they go along their way…..

While the Kids are Away…

June 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.47.54 PMKids aren’t the only ones who benefit from a few fun filled weeks away at one of the most beautiful and action packed summer camps on the planet. Parents who give their child the gift of an incredible summer also receive a gift themselves: A few weeks of glorious, kid-free bliss. Sure, parents will tear up as they drive away from camp, but two or three days into doing whatever they want without kids to consider, they’ll be just fine. Here are a few things all parents MUST do when their kids are away at camp:

  1. Sleep In- Without kids to wrangle, feed, dress, entertain and drive around, you’ll will find it very easy to hit snooze on the weekends, stay in bed, watch a marathon of your favorite show, and get up when YOU’RE ready. Enjoy your mornings like you did pre-kids, and don’t feel bad about it one bit.
  2. Stay out later- If sleeping in doesn’t feel natural to you anymore, consider “going all out” and staying out later than you usually do. Without bedtime schedules to follow and tired, cranky kids to rush you home, you can hang out with friends or your spouse until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore!
  1. Travel- Family vacations are priceless, but kid-free vacations aren’t too bad either. Plan a getaway with friends, or a romantic getaway with your other half. Book excursions that you enjoy, go places that you’ve always dreamed of, but knew it’d be close to impossible to enjoy with the kids in tow. And just think, you’ll only have to pack YOUR suitcase and focus on what things YOU need to bring, instead of being responsible for one or two extra suitcases.
  1. Pamper Yourself- Maybe you’ve been meaning to make time for yourself, but you just can’t find an extra hour in between school reports, soccer games, work, dinner and karate class. With the kids away and an open schedule, make time to get a massage, a pedicure, a haircut. Or do something else that relaxes you, like go for a long run, take a yoga class or play a game of golf.
  1. Go on a date- Reconnect as a couple by enjoying a few quality date nights while the kids are away. Enjoy the freedom of not having a babysitter to book and no underlying pressure to get back home. Go somewhere new, or head back to your favorite place. Wherever you go, enjoy the time strengthening your relationship as a couple, it’ll do wonders for your entire family when the kids come back and it is time to adjust to being a unit again
  1. See a movie- When was the last time YOU got to pick the movie you went to see or rented and watched at home? Browse the latest movies and go see it with your spouse or friends, or rent something and watch it at home. If you decide to stay home, pop some popcorn and grab an adult beverage and enjoy the show. Turn the sound up during the action scenes; there aren’t kids at home to wake up!
  1. Experiment in the kitchen- If picky kid palettes prevent you from trying new recipes and dishes, use this time to whip something up in the kitchen that sounds good to you! You can take all the time you need preparing and cooking these new dishes, and don’t have brutally honest kids to stick their nose up at it or complain about it. Channel your inner gourmet chef and create a culinary masterpiece!

You will miss your kids, and when the summer is over you’ll be ready to hug them and hear all about their adventures. But while they are swimming, dancing, running, boating, biking, hiking, and laughing their summer away, take time to do things for you; you deserve it!

 

 

Trying New Things at Camp

June 15th, 2015

11150926_10152785743616960_4362426279150551975_nTrying new things builds character, self-esteem and confidence. It allows you to be vulnerable, allows you to trust yourself and others, and allows you to grow as an individual. Trying new things, like spending the entire summer away from your bed, your dog, and your parents may seem like a scary endeavor, but thousands of kids do it every year, and thousands of kids are so glad that they did. When you try something new, you tell that little voice in your head that says “you can’t, you shouldn’t, you’re too scared” to pack up and get outta here. It then makes the other voice in your head that says “you’re a rock star, you’ve got this, you can, you should, you will” louder, and helps you become the best version of yourself.

When you get to camp, you’re not all done trying new things. Every day you will have the opportunity to broaden your horizons and experience something new. Some days it will be little things like trying a new food at lunch, and other times it will be bigger like getting up and talking to a group of people, or meeting new friends, or trying a sport that gives you an adrenaline rush, like mountain biking or water skiing. Every time you decide to try something that makes you a little unsure or apprehensive, you are opening up thousands of pathways in your brain that make you smarter, stronger and more confident.

Another benefit of trying something new is the opportunity to find a new skill that you love. Who knows, there may be a professional golfer tucked way deep down inside of you that is just waiting for the chance to get on the green and swing a club! Or the movie star in you could be bursting at the seams, just waiting to make a debut in many of the acting and theatre activities at camp. Trying a new sport or activity is a great opportunity to discover more about your interests, strengths and passions. And, worst-case scenario, you try something and don’t like it. You still learned a valuable lesson and can walk away from the experience proud that you gave it a shot.

11154792_10152733161946960_3729258168145848961_oMost people find comfort and security in their normal, every day routine. Taking that comfortable routine and completely shaking it up by being in a new place, with new people, trying new things, can sound scary, but it is actually healthy and important to do so. When you keep your brain guessing and continue to push the limits and boundaries you set for yourself, you become a more critical thinker, and foster your creative side at the same time. The ability to think critically while also utilizing creativity is a valuable life skill that will transfer to all areas of your life.

So first of all, get to camp. Then, while you’re here, try a new food at breakfast, go up and initiate conversation with a camper during free time, and make a commitment to try a new sport or activity every day. You will be amazed at how much fun you can have just outside of your comfort zone.

 

Teachers Love Camp Starlight Campers

June 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.41.56 AMWhen we asked a teacher in Florida what his ideal student looks like, he said “Someone who is respectful, creative and focused.” When we asked a teacher in New Jersey she said “Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who wants to learn and who tries their hardest,” and when we asked a teacher from Pennsylvania, she said “Someone who has great time management skills, is a leader and is responsible.” What we learned from talking to these teachers is that all across the country, teachers enjoy having responsible, respectful and creative students in their classrooms. And whattaya know… Camp Starlight helps students develop all of these skills, and so much more. It is our theory, that when teachers ask students what they did over the summer, they’re not just asking because it’s the standard “welcome back to school question,” but because they are secretly trying to decipher which students spent their summer growing, learning and improving at summer camp, and how many spent all summer playing video games. The bottom line: Teachers love students who spend their summers at summer camp.

Spending the summer at camp turns followers into leaders, turns shyness into confidence, and turns laziness into responsibility. Summer camp teaches campers how to work well with others, how to think critically and how to solve problems. It allows students to try new things, ask questions and be vulnerable in order to improve themselves. It teaches time management, respect for peers and authority, and organization. The list goes on and on, but every single day campers are learning valuable life skills that easily transfer over to every aspect of their lives. They think they’re just playing football with their friends, but at the same time they are learning how to communicate with others, how to be a good sport and the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. When they make real connections with people they’d usually never talk to, they are learning to ignore stereotypes and appreciate diversity. Summer camp is day after day of life lessons, disguised as swimming, playing, singing, dancing, biking, hiking and exploring.

Teachers look for leaders in the classroom, someone who can follow instructions and encourage their peers to do the same. It is with these students that teacher form trusting relationships, which can work in the students benefit all year long. These leaders are built at summer camp, and their skills aren’t just confined to the campground or the school campus, they become leaders in every aspect of their life.

Parents can be confident that their child will leave camp a better version of themselves. These students, who enter the new school year with a strong sense of identity, work ethic and high self-esteem, will be an important contributor to their teachers and classmates. This will also help them strive as individuals in the classroom and help them improve their academic performance.

If you were to ask a teacher what they REALLY wanted in an ideal student, most of them would say “Anyone who spent the summer at camp!”

Finding a Voice

June 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.02.36 AMAlthough most campers leave camp an excited, talkative and outgoing ball of energy, not all of them come to camp that way. Camp has a magical way of taking a quiet and introverted child and encouraging them to find their voice and speak up for themselves. Children who came to camp as followers can emerge as outspoken leaders. Every camper is different and comes with their own unique personality, but each camper will spend the summer learning to communicate with other adults and their peers, a vital skill that children need to learn as they navigate through their formative years.

Campers are always encouraged to work through their issues and problems in a healthy and productive manner, and learn various conflict management techniques. They are taught how to speak up for themselves and make sure their opinions and ideas are heard. They learn how to feel confident asking for help, and learn to be their own advocate.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.54.30 AMLearning to find their voice is one of the best things a young person can do for their confidence and self esteem. Learning to say no without feeling guilty and feeling confident about contributing to a conversation are valuable life skills.  Learning these skills could mean the difference between a student caving into peer pressure and one who can speak their mind. In a world where kids face challenges every single day regarding whether they will be a leader or a follower, a student who spent the summer at Camp Starlight will have the experience necessary to speak up for what is right, even if they’re the only one speaking.
Campers who learn to speak up for themselves also learn to speak up for others. In a society where bullying is so prominent, the world needs more young people who are able to say what they think, stand up for what is right, and know how to do so in a way that is healthy and productive. A camper who spent the summer finding their voice may use it to help another friend, student or sibling who hasn’t found theirs yet.

Instilling confidence in the youth of country is something that will change the world, and when campers truly find their voice and learn how to express their ideas in a constructive way, they feel confident enough to truly make a difference.

Lacrosse at Camp

May 26th, 2015

Calling all athletes. If sports where you walk off the field sweaty, sore and completely exhausted are your thing, lacrosse should be at the top of your “Sports To Try” list. Lacrosse is a very physical, fast paced game that involves a lot of running, hand eye coordination and agility. It is a team sport, in which players equipped with long sticks with mesh nets at the end compete to throw, catch and pass a little rubber ball to their teammates, with the ultimate goal being to launch it into the opposing teams goal.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.10.06 AMCamp Starlight offers campers the opportunity to suit up and give lacrosse a try. This sport, just like all of the sports at camp, are organized, taught and supervised by trained coaches and professionals of the sport. Safety is always the number one concern, and campers are required to wear all necessary safety equipment including a helmet, mouthpiece and gloves. Players are educated on the rules and techniques associated with the game, and are watched carefully to ensure everyone has fun and injuries are avoided.

Lacrosse games are played on one of many athletic fields across camp, and provide beautiful scenery for players and spectators alike. One of the cool things about playing lacrosse at camp is that you will be able to compete with other teams from other camps. This is exciting for those athletes who are naturally competitive and get excited about some friendly competition. Lacrosse is not just for campers who consider themselves all around athletes. It is a great sport for beginners too, and there is no safer place to try something new than America’s Finest Summer Camps. Lacrosse involves a lot of running and cardio work, which is great for weight loss and keeping your heart and lungs healthy. It also builds muscle and stamina.

Sports at Camp Starlight are designed for every camper, whether a trained athlete or a rookie. Camp Starlight keeps sports fun, and encourages friendly competition while keeping the old saying in mind, “it’s all about having fun.”

For campers going back to a middle or high school with a lacrosse team, they can use this summer to perfect their skills, learn the game, and fall in love with the sport before school tryouts.

Lacrosse is an action packed game and is a great way to meet new friends, stay healthy and add to your quickly growing list of “new things I want to try at camp.”

Academic and Social Pressures

May 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.47.54 PMA quick Google search for “what stresses kids out?” will produce thousands of results discussing all of the things kids and teenagers have to stress out about. As our country leans more towards standardize testing each year, students are bogged down with learning how to take a test, and riddled with anxiety about a single test that could mean the difference between advancing to the next grade, or not. Kids and teens say they spend a lot of time worrying about their grades, their next big test, their homework, and what they need to do pass. Older students worry about graduation, getting into the right colleges and finding a career they love. And on top of all of the academic pressure they face, add ranging hormones, peer pressure, relationships, heart breaks and attempting to live up to the standards set by the media, it’s no wonder kids are burnt out and need a break.

Young people cannot, and should not, have to face a life of stress, worry and pressure as adults too. Their young minds and spirits are not built for that, and it is crucial that they have an outlet and a reprieve from all of the stress they face each day. If they don’t get a break, they will make a way to escape the stress, and all too often their escape plans involve drugs, drink and risky behavior. Instead of leaving it up to them to manage their stress, we as a parents and a community need to call a “time out” and make sure they are getting time to be kids. This is the perfect opportunity to put all of their worries and responsibilities on hold and allow them to relax. Sending them to summer camp gives them a chance to just have fun, make friends and engage in activities that they enjoy.

The great thing about summer camp is that campers continue to grow emotionally and mentally; they are continually learning how to be a better person, friend, child, sibling, and student. They have responsibilities and commitments here just as they do at camp. They are faced with various social situations (making new friends, respecting authority, handling conflict) and taught how to deal with each one appropriately. Campers will be able to take these skills home with them, and use them to manage and alleviate much of the stress they face on a regular basis.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.37.03 PMGetting some time away is a great way for young people to relax and recharge, and gives them the energy and positive attitude they need to get back into their every day life and confidently handle whatever comes their way.

If you feel that your child has a lot on their plate, give them the gift of an action packed summer, and watch them come back to their academic, social and relational responsibilities with a brand new attitude.

 

 

Being a Part of the Camp Starlight Team

May 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.30 AMBeing a part of the team at Camp Starlight is an honor and a privilege, an opportunity to single handedly change the direction of a child’s life by giving them the gift of self confidence, love, patience, forgiveness and positive attention. Camp counselors provide an unforgettable experience for countless campers every single day which something you can’t say about most summer internships or part time jobs.

Camp counselors spend their summers surrounded by nature, interacting with other counselors, staff and campers, and get to experience life through the eyes of a child, an experience that can sometimes feel far away as we grow older. Camp counselors not only teach, they also learn. They learn practical, social and problem solving skills. They learn patience, trust, teamwork, time management, conflict resolution and how to have an impeccable work ethic. Any future employer who wouldn’t hire someone with that skill set would be missing a great opportunity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.36 AMYou could sit at the neighborhood pool all summer as a lifeguard, or serve coffee at your local coffee shop, or walk dogs, file papers (yawn!) or serve tables over the summer. But at the end of the day, as you fell asleep, completely exhausted from an active and exciting day, would you feel like what you did make a difference in someone’s life? Would you feel like you made lasting friendships, or invested time in someone who was feeling lonely, afraid or misunderstood? Probably not. The magic that happens when you truly see personal growth and change in someone does not happen in a coffee shop or at a medical office filing cabinet. It happens in the moments when you help someone conquer his or her fears, handle heartbreak, experience a triumph or get through a failure. It is in these moments that you, as a camp counselor, change the world, one camper at a time.

So when you’re thinking about what you should do over the summer, consider Camp Starlight. You’re only applying for one of the most exciting, exhausting, rewarding jobs on the planet!

You were made for this. The world needs changin’, and it starts with you.