Enjoying Camp at Home All Year Long

November 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 3.20.36 PMFor most campers, a summer at camp just isn’t enough. Even though camp counselors are pros at squeezing as much fun into every minute of every day at camp, eventually it is time to go home, and teary eyed campers are sad to say goodbye. Parents can easily help their kids feel connected to camp all year round by incorporating little things into their life that remind them of camp.

At Camp Starlight, there is a chant, rhyme or song for almost everything campers do. This not only helps them remember important information, but also brings all of the campers together. Parents can ask their kids what songs meant the most to them and why, and find a way to incorporate the song, chant or rhyme into their daily lives. Campfire songs are a classic camp memory, and having children teach their parents these catchy tunes is a great way to connect parents and kids, and also brings back fond memories of camp all year round.

It won’t take long for parents to figure out what activity their children really connected with at camp. If possible, parents can plan a weekend at the lake for their new sailor or wake board enthusiast and see for themselves why the sport meant so much for their children. If kids discovered their love for acting, music, art or dance, parents can look in their community to see if enrolling their children in these programs/classes is realistic for their family. It is very important for parents to encourage their children to follow their dreams and passions, many of which are discovered after a fun filled summer at camp.

There is no doubt that kids will come home with more than one new best friend. Parents can help their child stay in touch with their camp friends by helping them write letters, emails and arranging “Skype-dates.” If possible, planning a get-together with friends from camp may ease the common “camp sickness” (the camp version of homesickness) and allow kids to foster and build upon the relationships they made at camp.

The Internet is full of fun ideas to bring summer camp to your home, such as DIY fire pits, delicious ‘smore recipes and exciting team games that will get the whole neighborhood involved. Parents can get creative in bringing the camp experience home, and by asking their kids a few questions about what they loved about camp, it is easy to bring some camp favorites right to their own living room.

5 wakeboard tips and tricks to stay in practice all year round

November 16th, 2015


Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 3.17.56 PMSummer camp means getting out on the lake, and getting out on the lake means: wakeboarding!

Wakeboarding is a favorite for many campers, providing tons of adrenaline and fun in a super safe environment. (After all, the worst that can happen is you fall in the lake… and campers are constantly doing that on purpose anyway!)

The only tricky part about wakeboarding is remembering everything you learned the year before. Like any seasonal activity, staying in practice year-round is pretty difficult. (Unless you live somewhere with warm winters and happen to have a boat and lake at your disposal, that is!)

So how can you practice at home so you’re in top form when it’s your turn to hit the lake?

We’ve gathered some of the best ways to stay on top of your wakeboarding game. Get ready to impress your camp friends when they see how many tricks you can do!

Note: as with any sport or fitness activity, always wear safety equipment, stay within your limits, and only practice with a qualified instructor to keep everything safe and fun.

1. Practice your board skills with snowboarding or skateboarding

The hardest part of wakeboarding can be simply balancing on the board. Luckily, snowboarding and skateboarding both build similar skills, so if you can get out on the slopes or make it down to the local skate park, you can practice your balance all year round!

The best part is that both sports are super fun in their own right — and they’ll make sure you have killer board handling skills by the time summer camp rolls around.

You can also consider using a balance board, which gives some of the same advantages as a skateboard without requiring you to leave your room or the gym. You could even watch Netflix while you practice!

2. Improve your balance by adding exercises to your routine

If you already have a stretching or workout routine that you follow at least once a week, consider adding some balance-focussed exercises to the mix! Exercises that improve your balance are surprisingly simple: practice balancing on one leg for 30+ seconds, then build up to hopping on one foot, and doing one-legged squats and lunges.

Pro tip: closing your eyes makes these exercises twice as hard, but will have huge rewards when you get on the board.

3. Study up on YouTube

When it comes to learning specific tricks, YouTube is your best friend. Instructors all over the world have videos you can watch for free that break down each trick into step-by-step challenges, and you can play them over and over until you’ve got a handle on the mechanics of the trick.

4. Trampoline time!

Yup, wakeboarding is your excuse to play around on the school trampoline!

A trampoline is surprisingly effective at simulating the wakeboarding experience, and gives you a chance to practice a tricky move over… and over… and over again, until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to give it a shot on the lake.

Plus, jumping on a trampoline is just plain fun!

5. Daydream

Success comes to those who expect it, and summer camp activities are no different. If you’re excited about another fun season of wakeboarding, go ahead and let yourself get stoked about it!

Visualize yourself doing the tricks you enjoy, and practice them mentally while doing less exciting activities (like sorting your clothes, for example). How did it feel to grind that steep wake? How did it feel to land that spin?

Summer is always right around the corner, and it’ll be time to get out on the lake again before you know it. Can’t wait to see you there — be ready for some serious watersport fun!

More Than Just A Lake

November 9th, 2015


There are many things notice when they arrive at camp the first day. They notice the cabins, all of the new faces, the baseball fields, ropes course, tennis courts and acres and acres of open space to run in, play in and explore in. But one of the most breathtaking and exciting parts of camp is the lake. With “so-clear-you-can see-right-to-the-bottom” waters, the lake and sandy shoreline is a popular place for campers to spend the majority of their summers.

When it comes to watersports, campers can try a variety of different options while at Camp Starlight. Campers can relax and learn the art of fishing, or work their muscles on a standup paddle board, or they can get their heart rate up as they experience the speed and thrill of wakeboarding and water skiing. The lake doesn’t just offer a location to try new sports; it serves as the backdrop for11412068_10152924523001960_5082905044883132426_o the time in their lives when kids will remember they tried something new. It will be the place they fondly remember as the spot where they faced their fears, tried something new, and had the time of their lives.

The lake also serves as a great place for reflection and peace. A quiet stroll along the shoreline can be a great place for a confidential conversation between friends, a quiet place for journaling or writing letters back home, or simply a place to connect with nature. Warm, sunny days heat the water to a comfortable 80 degrees during the day, making it easy to run, splash and play in the crystal clear waters all day long. (Don’t worry, sunscreen is readily available and lifeguards and other professionals are always around!)

The lake is a central part of camp, and it brings campers together in a variety of waves. Camp Starlight would feel incomplete without all of the activities, events and life lessons that are centered on the lake. Self-confidence, friendships and trust are all built on the lake. Campers who come from a part of the country where they don’t have access to such a beautiful part of nature really connect and enjoy everything the lake has to offer.

The lake is so much more than just a body of water in the middle of camp. The lake is a place that campers really connect with, and where lifelong memories are made.

Baseball fever at summer camp

November 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.39.07 PMBaseball. The crowd going wild while a player steals home. The smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the bleachers. Afternoons playing catch with the family at the park. Generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game.

Much like summer camp, baseball is something that many of us take for granted as a part of our childhood. Few activities come close to being so… well, American. Baseball and summer camp are as close to our hearts as flag, family, and country.

…So it should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most intensely anticipated activities, with campers going wild year after year, debating over particularly clever plays well past the last activity and into the evening.

So what is it that makes baseball so special?

“The thinking person’s sport”

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.38.57 PMEveryone has their theories around here at camp, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, is a thinking sport. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the adrenaline comes from chaos, and each player is constantly making split-second decisions.

Baseball, on the other hand, requires more planning for the future. Half the game is spent between plays, with players huddled in circles determining their best bets. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead, and to enjoy waiting for the fun parts of life. As it turns out, anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.

Taking time to reflect

Interestingly, many of the campers most excited about baseball at camp aren’t actually players at school. Baseball is their top pick at camp, and meanwhile they play soccer or lacrosse for their teams back at home.

It’s hard to say why this is, but it may be that the leisurely pace of the game is better suited to camp, where campers have a chance to think ahead and reflect in ways that the hectic school year schedule often doesn’t allow. Baseball requires concentration and focus, both of which come easier in a supportive environment like camp where everyone has plenty of time to look inwards — and of course, no homework to keep them distracted!

Room to breath

Everyone needs a little room to breath when they think towards the future. Room to breath is something that camp and baseball have in common. They show us that you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Sometimes, it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. After all, you’ll be using that time to get ready.

…When your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!

7 reasons summer campers would win “The Hunger Games”

October 26th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.44.57 PMIt’s hard not to imagine yourself in the world of “The Hunger Games” when you watch the film’s star Katniss running through the forest on the big screen, and for summer campers the themes of friendship, family and on-point archery skills ring especially true. Everyone has their own strategy they would use if they were a contestant in “The Hunger Games.” How would summer campers fare? From archery practice to camping skills, here are 7 reasons campers would definitely win:

1. Because they use teamwork

Campers know better than anybody that teamwork increases the odds of winning a game — and guarantees a fair share of fun even if “winning” isn’t in the cards. Being comfortable working on a team and trusting in others to pull their fair share takes guts, whether you’re fighting for your family in the Hunger Games or fighting for an extra marshmallow at a campfire challenge.

2. Because they know how to hit a bullseye

What do medieval knights, futuristic Hunger Game contestants and summer campers all have in common? That’s right — unbeatable archery skills! Katniss might get a run for her money if she participated in a camp archery competition, because let me tell you — some campers are seriously sharp shooters. Knowing how to use a bow and arrow is a rare skill in this day and age, but it’s no mystery to campers.

3. Because they’re resourceful

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.42.27 PMOne of the biggest challenges of The Hunger Games is making do with what you have, and using elbow grease and creativity to solve problems. Campers spend all day practicing these skills and learning to have fun in the great outdoors without high-tech smartphones and game systems. Then when it’s time for theater and skits, campers use their imaginations to bring the adventure to life. Needless to say, being resourceful in the Games would be no problem for campers.

4. Because they know how to camp out

As if being on the run and fighting death-defying odds weren’t enough, the contestants of the Hunger Games also have to survive for days on end in the wilderness — sleeping under the stars, making shelters out of branches, and always planning ahead so they have access to their basic necessities.


Luckily there’s no risk of such troubles at summer camp, but campers still get to practice the fun side of wilderness survival skills. From learning to start campfires to exploring the habitats of wildlife in nature, exposure to the skills needed to have a blast in the great outdoors is a huge part of camp life. Regardless of experience, all campers get a chance to experience the life-affirming power of an outdoor camping experience.


…And of course, everyone at Camp Starlight knows where the North Star is! So navigation is no problem.

5. Because they know how to be a leader

Leadership is the quality that makes Katniss special in “The Hunger Games,” and it’s also one of the most important qualities taught at summer camp — how to be brave and volunteer when help is needed, and how to take charge when you know that something needs to be done.

6. Because they trust each other

Trust games are a staple of summer camp, and a belief in the power of team building carries summer campers far as they grow up and enter “the real world.” Anybody who’s done a trust fall knows it’s one of the scariest things you can do — and also the most liberating, because once you believe in your peers you can learn to truly believe in yourself. In the world of “The Hunger Games,” Katniss almost lost many times simply by second-guessing her allies, and the fact that trust ultimately brought them together is one of the film’s most inspiring messages.

7. Because they’re loyal to their friends

Last but not least, the biggest and best part of camp life: friendship. It’s friendship that saves Katniss and her friends at the end of the film, and it’s friendship that brings campers back to summer camp, again and again, year after year. Katniss shows that she’s willing to give everything for her friends and family. Campers learn that friendship isn’t just about taking — it’s about giving back, volunteering, and always being ready to help others.

The Lessons I Learned In Summer Camp

October 20th, 2015


This post is a re-share from The Odyssey Online

Everyone who went to camp is part of a cult; a group united by spirit and tradition that cannot be explained or understood. It does not make sense, and every summer, you come home a little weirder than when you left.

Although camp is a difficult place to explain, it is an easy place to be, and after a decade of abnormal adventures as a camper and a counselor, I’ve grown to realize that I truly would be a different person without it.

During my time as a camper, I learned everything. I learned how to play soccer, how to make my bed, and every other simple task a kid should know. I learned to have fun without television and video games, to be persistent, and never to give up no matter how many basketball shots it takes to win a game of Knockout.
I learned how to be away from home, to include everyone in any activity, and how to love people who aren’t family. After reflecting on my years at camp, however, I realize I learned more during my two years as a counselor than during my eight years as a camper.

During my first year of college, I had all the freedom in the world, and going from college to camp was a huge wake up call for me. I went from a lifestyle where I could sleep in and plan my day to a world where I was a slave to time—and children. I had to wake up at precisely 7:55am each morning and make sure each child was cleaning, eating, and participating in activities with a smile on her face, and mine.
I learned to put others first, and to enjoy doing so; I learned to distinguish between a sick child and a child pretending to be sick so she doesn’t have to play tennis in ninety-degree weather; I learned that everything is not always going to go my way, and I learned to be responsible for something bigger than myself.

The most important things I learned were things I learned as a camper, but were so much more meaningful as a counselor. I learned that tradition is a powerful thing that can bring people together unlike anything else, that people from all over the world are really not different from us at all, and that everything is better when you do not worry about image or appearance. It’s okay to wrestle in Jell-O, and go on scavenger hunts, and stand on chairs and dance during breakfast, and play football in a tutu, and cry when you lose color war; in this fantasy world, life is perfectly structured yet totally careless, and nothing outside those grounds matters or even exists.

As a camper, I learned a lot of important life skills, but as a counselor I learned a lot about myself.

The benefits of Camp- A parent’s perspective!

October 13th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.00.51 PMIn a world of Wiis, Xbox ones and 360s, nothing is better than real “whee’s” on the zipline, one on ones with friends and the 360 views your kids will get when they attend summer camp. Unplug your kids and find out how they can benefit. It’s an invaluable experience that allows them to develop the skills they need to become confident kids.

As hard as it is to send my boys off to camp each year, I know it’s the best thing for them. I’m the type of Mom who wants to be with them all summer long. I love re-living my childhood through their eyes. But summers away, teach them to believe in themselves. They gain more than just experiences, adventures and new best friends, summer camp instills positive behaviors that carry over into adulthood.


When my kids go to summer camp, they become more confident. Without my husband and I there to guide their every move, they make more decisions on their own and start to trust their own instincts. Camp is the perfect place for them to do this, in a safe environment that nurtures individual growth and development. When kids learn to make choices on their own, it gives them a sense of self worth and sets them up for success in the real world.


Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.00.34 PMCamp is no different that it is at home or school. Things happen. You child didn’t get to be on the team he’d hoped, friends are acting unfairly, or your child didn’t get picked for a group project. That’s just how it is. At camp, my kids have had several issues like this but they’ve learned to accept that life isn’t always perfect. Knowing they must rely on their own problem solving skills helps them adapt and grow. I like to say, they’ve started discovering their own “know-how”. This allows them to be strong in difficult situations at camp and when they return home.


Your child isn’t going to like everyone at camp and not everyone is going to like your child. There are a lot of personalities to deal with. My sons have learned that no matter the differences they may have with others, they have to treat everyone like they want to be treated. Learning how to be flexible and mindful of others feelings, promotes good working relationships among peers and adults. Learning tolerance and being accepting of others, are skills they’ve taken away from their stay, that go beyond just the summer.


Summer camp is all about encouraging kids to step outside their comfort zone and face their fears. This builds character. When you pair character with confidence and helping others, kids learn to become leaders. They thrive in an environment where they’re given the opportunity to help someone else learn something new and teach what maybe they learned the year before. My kids have become noticeably more self-confident and independent and come home with the attitude of wanting to help others.

What to Expect Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

October 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.52.13 PMThinking about what you’ll be doing next summer already? If you loved camp as a kid or are now too old to attend Camp Starlight as a camper, think about applying to be a camp counselor at Camp Starlight! Running a successful camp depends mostly on our camp staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to reconnect with the campers and your fellow counselors, form friendships, and make memories!


  1. Get ready to be excited about everything! From Ms Starlight to Olympics, teaching skills to singing camp songs, campers feed off of your energy! You are their role model for the entire summer (or at least part of it), so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!


  1. At Camp Starlight, time moves quickly! When you arrive at camp for orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away! I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the middle of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment with our campers. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!


  1. There is no “typical” day at Camp Starlight. At a 9-5 job, you may have a set routine. This might get boring! Don’t worry- at Camp Starlight things are always changing! We’re always adding new activities and switching up schedules to keep things fresh for campers. Of course, there will be a small routine to your day: staff meetings, teaching various skills, and meals but other than that, come prepared for change daily!


  1. You’ll be competitive about everything. From making the best friendship bracelets to lawn games against other groups, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Even if it doesn’t have to be. This is one of the ways your group shows pride! So, reveal in it and pump your campers up!


  1. Get ready to become a craft master. Even if you came to Camp Starlight not knowing how to tie a knot, by the end of the summer you’ll be a bracelet making master!


  1. You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone. This helps you grow! For example, you may be able to avoid some of your fears (of swimming, heights, etc), but you might not be able to get out of being put in the spotlight at one point or another during the season. Revel in it; it’s not too scary!


  1. Get ready to embrace your inner athletic side, even if you don’t think you have one! We love games at Camp Starlight, so don’t think you can get away with not participating! Give it your all, and you’ll find that it’s fun! Even if you don’t, do it for your campers!


  1. You’ll lose track of days. During your time at camp, you’ll almost never know what day it is. And it doesn’t really matter (as long as you’re not late for a meal or a scheduled activity!). Part of enjoying camp is completely immersing yourself in it!


  1. Expect to leave Camp Starlight changed in some way. This summer will have a profound impact on you: the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but summers at camp will change you for the better!


Ready to apply? Visit campstarlight.com/StaffExperience! We hope to see you next summer!

4 Constellations visible from Camp Starlight and how to find them

September 28th, 2015

UntitledLights out doesn’t have to mean the fun is over; after all, Camp Starlight is the perfect place for stargazing! All you need is a clear sky, a few tips and pointers, and of course a helpful counselor.

Once you figure out how to find the north star, it’s a slippery slope to becoming an astronomy expert. Who wouldn’t want to be knowledgeable about this beautiful universe of ours?

Here are four of the easiest constellations to locate during the summer months at Camp Starlight, and how to find them.

The Big Dipper

For many aspiring astronomers, the big dipper is the first constellation they ever discover. The Big Dipper is visible all year round, making it a dependable friend even if you aren’t an astronomy master.

The distinctive dipper or ladle shape is hard to miss, since it’s composed of a few of the brightest stars in the sky. Take a look at the shape in the picture below; this is what you’re looking for.


Image source: http://www.instructables.com/


Found it? Awesome!

Beyond being dependable, the Big Dipper is your secret key to the celestial world. Once you can find the Big Dipper, you can use it to pinpoint many other constellations.

Now let’s use the Big Dipper to find our next constellation: the Great Bear.

The Great Bear

The Big Dipper is actually part of the Great Bear, so if you’ve already located that elusive ladle then you’re literally halfway there. Hint: the handle of the dipper is the tail of the bear.

Look for the brightest stars directly forward from the dipper part of the Big Dipper to find the bear’s head, and extend downwards from the dipper’s bottom to find the bear’s legs. Can you spy the Big Dipper in this picture?

  Image source: https://misfitsandheroes.wordpress.com/

Image source: https://misfitsandheroes.wordpress.com/

The Little Dipper

The Big Dipper isn’t done helping us; we’re also going to use it to help us find its smaller but no less important sibling, the Little Dipper!

Find the two stars that make the “front” of the Big Dipper and draw a line with your imagination upwards. The brightest star in that line is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.

Image source: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/

Image source: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/

The Little Dipper is much fainter than the big dipper, and if any wispy clouds are hanging around it might be quite tricky to find. But there is a reward! That bright star forming the end of the Little Dipper’s handle is none other than Polaris, the north star.

If you can get this far, you have everything you need to find your way in the wilderness. North is always the direction of the North Star, which is why sailors used to be so concerned with astronomy in the old days. Pat yourself on the back!


Everyone loves dragons, so let’s finish by finding the dragon constellation, Draco. We can use the Little Dipper as a reference point, just like we did before.

The snakey part of Draco wraps around the spoon part of the Little Dipper in a giant “s” shape, leading up to the “head” of the dragon — a suspiciously ladle-like four-point star formation, as you can see in the shape here:


Image source: http://www.rocketmime.com/

Show off your new astronomy skills to your friends!

Astronomy is like everything else at camp: challenging, but rewarding. And most importantly, tons of fun.

The best part about these four constellations is that they’re visible all year around. Be sure to show your friends at camp, or if you’re a counselor, be sure to teach your campers. That way they can take their newfound astronomy skills away with them and show their friends at home!

When they ask where you learned something so cool, you can just say, “at Camp Starlight.”

What a campfire means to a summer camper!

September 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.48.44 PMCamp life may thrive on variety, but the traditional evening campfire has remained constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a campfire brings back a flood of memories for many summer campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome, and a time when all there was to worry about was playing games and growing stronger. Nothing captures the spirit of the summer camp experience quite like the snap-crackle-pop of the hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames.

A day at camp is often hectic and wild, and the evening campfire offers everybody a chance to wind down. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without it. After all, the traditional evening campfire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night; gathering around the fire represents community, the circle of life, and togetherness with friends new and old.


Fire has been a life source for all of recorded history, from the first ancient person to rub two sticks together to the diligent camper wielding flint and tinder. For all that time, friends and family have gathered around the fire to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. (or s’mores, as the case may be!)

Building a fire with only matches, kindling and elbow grease is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, or flashlights, or flashlight apps on your smartphone.

Experiencing a campfire, and perhaps even starting one yourself, is a taste of independence for campers, for whom camp is the one of many steps towards independence and self-sufficiency.


Another thing campfires represent is a time for winding down through songs, skits, and theatrical games. Charades is never as funny as just before bedtime, when your best friend is dancing and gesturing desperately to get everybody to guess the right word. Even if you’re feeling tired after a long day of activities, you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight. Just watch out for all the camp-related inside jokes!

And of course no mention of campfires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. (“Hey, Burritos!” anybody?) Legend has it that there are campers out there who know so many verses of “The green grass grows all around” that it would take a whole day just to sing it from start to finish. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.

…And of course we can’t forget s’mores!

One part of the fire nobody wants to miss: s’more time! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes hard work and commitment. (Thankfully, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and truth be told some folks prefer to let them catch fire for a crispy flavor!)

Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe — I for one appreciate homemade chocolate chip cookies — roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring campfire is something nobody forgets.

Plus, it’s just the right amount of sugar to keep you awake for the closing songs, but not so awake that you have trouble drifting into peaceful dreams after lights out!