Looking Forward to Summer Camp

November 11th, 2014

As we head into the colder winter months, children are settled into their school routines and deep into schoolwork, homework and after school schedules. This is also the time of year for children to look forward to the carefree summer months ahead at sleepaway camp. For Starlight campers – and camp staff too, by the way – summer camp is a magical experience that is difficult to capture in words. Camp is a place to enjoy powerful experiences for a lifetime of memories and lasting friendships.
Reconnecting with Nature Being a camper means unplugging from electronics and connecting to the natural environment. Camp Starlight is a delightful spot surrounded by mountain views, acres and acres of woodlands and two private spring-fed lakes. Children discover the joys of activity in the greenery of the countryside by day, and gathering under the starlit sky at night. Returning campers look forward to shedding the constraints of winter clothing, schedules and schoolwork. At camp, they can take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities as they pursue activities in a gorgeous piece of paradise on camp grounds. Summer camp gives children back their opportunity to explore the outdoors and reconnect with nature. Face-to-Face Relationships In today’s world of social media, too many young people communicate with friends through texting and posting. When children look forward to summer camp, a large part of the excitement is the anticipation of picking up relationships with established camp friends and making new ones. Just spotting a former bunkmate and saying hello can conjure up wonderful memories of athletics activities, outdoor adventures, fine arts and crafts projects, water sports, performances and Olympics enjoyed together. Over and over again, you hear campers and camp staff describe the camp experience as being a part of an extended family. And it is within that Camp Starlight family that campers share their joys, work out their problems and hone interpersonal skills that will last a lifetime.
The Freedom to Explore Campers look forward to the opportunity to build on current interests and explore new ones at camp. From the moment reveille sounds in the morning until the end of the evening program and Taps, campers join their camp friends for a full day of engaging activities. Whether it is perfecting the butterfly stroke or learning to kayak, meeting the challenges of overnight outdoor camping or participating in musical theater performances, campers look forward to participating in stimulating scheduled activities while enjoying the freedom to explore new options within the structure of the camp day. Two daily elective periods insure that campers can choose from an extensive roster of activities, providing the space to grow as an individual by pursuing personal interests. Now is the time that many campers start renewing camp friendships and look forward to the excitement of the summer ahead.

The Anatomy of a S’mores

November 6th, 2014

At Camp Starlight, everyone looks forward to getting in on the action and making s’mores. But what is it about s’mores that gets us asking for – you guessed it – some more?

The sticky, ooey, gooey, utterly delicious ingredients, that’s what!

People say there is a National S’mores Day celebrated on August 10 every year, but you don’t have to wait until then to eat s’mores. To make s’mores, you start when the sun goes down. Everyone gathers around the roaring camp fire hungry for an after dinner sweet treat. Bring along chocolate bars, graham crackers and marshmallows. It doesn’t matter if the chocolate is milk chocolate or dark chocolate – you pick. And don’t forget the skewers, unless you are planning to use twigs like the old days.

Very carefully, break the graham crackers and chocolate into squares. A half of a regular sized chocolate bar and two attached graham crackers will do nicely. Remember, you are kind of making a chocolate and marshmallow sandwich, so you will need two squares of graham crackers.

Now for the best part. Stick your skewer, or twig, right through the center of the marshmallow so it doesn’t fall off. Then roast the marshmallow over the fire until the outside is brown, not burnt, and the inside is really, really gooey. If the marshmallow does fall off into the fire, don’t worry! Just take another one and start over.

When the marshmallow is done, it is time to put together your s’mores. Use one piece of graham cracker as the base, then place the chocolate on top, and then put the hot marshmallow on top of that. Be careful not to burn your fingers! Then add the last layer, the other piece of graham cracker.

But the s’mores is not ready for eating yet!

Just wait a minute or two so the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate just a little bit. Now, take a bite and enjoy your sticky, ooey, gooey, oh so good chocolate marshmallow graham cracker treat!

My First Year as a Counselor

October 14th, 2014

I went to Camp Starlight as a camper for 8 summers. I remained in the same bunk with the same group of girls since I was a junior all the way until CA summer. I was understandably nervous about joining the starlight staff for the summer of 2014, but knew that it was an experience I must complete in order to complete my journey at Camp Starlight. Undoubtedly, this summer exceeded any of my previous expectations. I was a Lower Deb Counselor (GO UNICORNS) and I couldn’t have asked for a better

group of girls to spend my summer with. I admired their constant positivity and energy at every activity and in the bunk. My co-counselors and I became the best of friend, and I learned more about teamwork and responsibility than I thought I could ever learn anywhere. Outside the bunk, I was a lacrosse specialist and it w

as amazing to get to know almost the entire girls side. Every group of girls brought forth a different contribution to the program, which only added to my incredible experience as a coach. I truly thought my years as a camper were the best it was going to get, but my first year counselor experience exceeded anything before it. I learned so much about myself, while spending every second with the people I came to love the most.

Devon H.

My Interview With Megan Panelas.

October 7th, 2014

Sometimes we get so much good stuff over the summer that we can’t publish it all at once. The following is an interview conducted by 2014 Lower Deb Sydney M. during the summer of 2014 with her Division Leader, Meagan Panelas…Recently, I interviewed Megan Panelas, the Lower Deb Division Leader. I’m sure you will learn something new about one of our staff members.The first question I asked Megan was why she wanted to work at a camp. she told me she wanted more experience with kids. she said she specifically chose Camp Starlight because she saw the video yearbook and wanted to join instantly. Megan has been working at Camp Starlight for a long time. Megan has been here for thirteen years. She has been a Division Leader for eleven years in a row.

Megan wanted to be a  Division Leader because she likes special events and she wantedto be more involved in them and what better way to get involved than to be in charge of them? Her favorite thing about being a Lower Deb Division Leader is picking the annual Lower Deb mascot and meeting new campers and counselors every year. Megan says she is from London, Canada and she went to school at the University of Guelph. During the winter, Megan is a pre-school teacher. No wonder why she is so good with kids! Interesting enough, Megan’s first job was as a singing waitress! Megan loves animals, especially unicorns, hippos, dragons and flamingos. Before Megan was a Division Leader, she was a theater specialist and an ADL for the upper inter girls. The thing she likes most about the Lower Deb girls are that they are old enough to do anything on camp and like all evening activities. I asked her if she had any pets and she said she has three cats! Their names are Cringer, Roxy and Marbles. “I love them dearly.” she says about her cats.  She even Skypes with her cats. I had so much fun this year with Megan as my division leader!

-Sydney M.

A Staff Member’s Favorite Part of Camp:

September 18th, 2014

Have you ever tried to thing about your absolute, favorite part of camp? I bet it’s hard to think of just one. There are so many activities, events, and moments at camp that can turn into a favorite in just a matter of seconds.

From a staff perspective, it’s hard to choose just one favorite part about camp. Most staff members have never experienced anything like Camp Starlight before. Every day of the summer is new and exciting for them. They could wake up and say, “That was my favorite part of Camp”, until something even better is thrown at them, and they change their mind over and over again.

My favorite part of camp is possibly one of the most anticipated days of the summer. When the Starlight Summer really begins, welcome day, the first day.  The energy that is flowing through the camp, even before the busses arrive, is crazy. Counselors are so excited to meet their campers and really get the ball rolling.  As those first buses pull up, there is an intense mix of emotions; excitement, anxiousness, happiness, and even a slight feeling of fear. But once all those kids run off the bus carrying sports equipment and bus bags, and the biggest smiles you could ever imagine, the atmosphere drastically changes and it’s one of the best feelings in the world! You suddenly know that you are in for the best summer of your life, and can’t wait to see what’s next in store!

So staff, what is YOUR favorite part of camp? Comment in the section below, or feel free to send us your own personal blog at info@campstarlight.co

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.’

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.

Missing our friends!

August 26th, 2014

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.

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.