How Goals are Achieved at Camp Starlight

July 22nd, 2017

With the endless amount of opportunities provided to campers at Camp Starlight, campers are not only constantly encouraged to set goals for themselves, but they are encouraged to achieve those same goals as well. Whether a camper decides to set a long or short term goal, Camp Starlight guides the campers to achieve them in a way that makes the journey to success that much more exciting and fun. Learning how to play piano, do a magic trick, sink a three pointer on the basketball court or standing up on water skis, the goals campers set for themselves are varied but always achievable with the support of staff and friends at Camp Starlight. Everyone is excited to help each other and push campers outside of their comfort zone to reach their goals because this is a place where everyone believes in the potential of others. Here to celebrate both the wins and losses, achievements and failures, Camp Starlight always keeps the ball rolling for campers to pursue their goal no matter how many times they fall on their journey. No one will judge a camper’s goal either because no goal is too big or too small, even if the goal is as simple as a making one new friend. Camp Starlight recognizes the amount of effort someone needs to put in to achieve a goal, understanding that it is not just the work of the camper to achieve goal, but the combined support of coaches, counselors and staff. The unconditional support of everyone at Camp Starlight is how goals are always achieved every summer.

Jesse H. Speech

July 21st, 2017

My name is Jesse H. and I am here today to speak to you about courage. Courage is a word with many meanings. Whether it is facing your fears, trying a new thing, or simply stepping out of your comfort zone, courage is a quality we should all apply to our personalities. Sometimes our courage is diminished when there are obstacles in the way. The most intimidating and dangerous obstacle, however, oftentimes is ourselves. Our personal fear is a limiting factor that every single one of us lives with. However, I can offer a piece of advice to all of you that may help your struggle against fear. As Franklin D Roosevelt said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Let me elaborate by telling a story…

During my Upper Inter summer, we were having a blast at Dorney Park. Back then I was terrified of any ride that wasn’t a merry-go-round. Throughout the day, I avoided all of the big coasters. After a few hours, my group approached the last ride. For those of you who have been to Dorney, you may have heard the name “Steel Force.” For those of you have not yet been, you will get to know the name very soon, because it is a mighty sight to behold. Our counselor urged me to go on. In my head I was panicking, and then a thought came to me. “Why am I scared of these? I know these coasters have been tested thousands of times, and also that G-d will protect me no matter what.” At that moment, I realized that if I looked at my fears more objectively, then there is, in fact, nothing scary about these rides. Willingly, I hopped on board Steel Force. I screamed a lot, but I had an absolute blast; it made my day and the entire trip a wonderful time. I learned how to turn fear and anxiety into courage and excitement. Now every time I am on a coaster, I think about that moment when I successfully translated my fear into courage.

Parallel to this little allegory, courage continues to be a necessary device when making important life decisions. Should I have a Bar Mitzvah? Will I get married? Will I have children? Should I go back on line for seconds? Questions such as these have life-altering consequences, and require a certain degree of courage to move forward and to make the correct decision. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but with a little love, judgement, a strong will, and a healthy dose of courage, making the right choices should come a bit easier. Demonstrating courage can improve anyone’s life ten-fold. Just remember the words that the only thing to fear is fear itself (FDR). I remember when my father first told me these words. I couldn’t fully comprehend what it meant back then, like some of you may be experiencing right now. Eventually, if you can start to understand, I promise you your life will be prosperous and exciting.

 

Help Campers Express Creativity Through Dance

July 20th, 2017

Written by Hana M.

Everyday when I walk into the dance studio I look at the wall of mirrors and wonder what talent I will see today, marvelling at what new dance moves will be performed and what new techniques will be mastered. The dance studio brings in new campers everyday of all different skill levels and being able to watch the creativity and passion flow from these campers is why I believe I have the best job on campus as the Dance Specialist. Coming into the studio with a crazy amount of energy and smiles, the campers always come ready to learn a new move or dance routine. I feed off their energy and it drives me to have the most fun possible with them, it makes me eager to teach and help them master new skills of dance. When the campers pick up on something they have never worked on before and master it with ease it is so exciting to watch. On the other hand, when campers with lower confidence in their dancing abilities pick up on the dance I become overjoyed to see their progress and see how they realize they can dance. One of my favorite parts of my job is to see campers build their confidence as camp goes on, increasing the difficulty of the dance moves or pace of the routine. When I see campers overcome these struggles and present a final dance it gives me the most rewarding feeling as a counselor. The final dance, whether it’s presented to the camp, at competition or just in the studio, always looks so effortlessly done, but I know all the hard work that is put in to make it look effortless and that is an honor to me. Helping these campers express themselves through dance and song and see them accomplish so many goals is why I know I have the best job at Camp Starlight.

Campfire Speech

July 19th, 2017

“I’m Bethan and this is my fourth year at Camp Starlight in the Girl’s Waterfront. This time four years ago I was so scared, but also so excited. Camp Starlight is a place that knows you better than you know yourself and every decision they make is always for a good reason.

Camp Starlight has become a home away from home for me and provided me with so many opportunities that I would have never dreamed of. Camp Starlight has given me lifelong friends that I have been able to visit all around the world, and that I look forward to seeing again every year. We all have our best friends at home, but it is important to feel like you can turn to someone here if you need to, as more times than not, people will be feeling exactly the same. Yes, it is amazing to be able to talk about your experience when you get home, but there is nothing wrong with having that little part of you that is made up of camp memories that friends and family at home may not understand.

One of my favorite things about Camp Starlight is that I can put my phone away for two months, appreciate these beautiful surroundings and have the opportunity to make lifelong friends.

Camp Starlight allows you to completely be yourself and dance around like a fool at all times of the day, finding things out about yourself that you never knew. You get to live in the most amazing, unforgettable bubble and experience amazing things with amazing people for two months. It is impossible not to get back down year after year.

For me, the main reason I come back every year is the kids. They are incredible and truly become family to you. Each year I get the opportunity to become a big sister to 12 girls and be the best role model for them. During my first year at Olympics, I remember I finally got the opportunity to see my girls excel in what they were amazing at. During the senior girls basketball game I cried because I couldn’t believe how talented they were. As someone who doesn’t have younger siblings, it was the first time I really felt connected and proud. It is the hardest things saying goodbye to the kids at the end of the summer, but for me I knew it wasn’t goodbye forever, it was just goodbye for now.

Four years ago I promised my first bunk that I would be here for their first year as counselors, and now I’m lucky enough to be experiencing the summer of 2017 with two of them.”

Different Accents, Same Message

July 18th, 2017

From New Zealand to South Africa, counselors travel from all around the world to come to Camp Starlight in the summer. This diverse international staff brings so much culture to learn about when at camp, a new appreciation for music, food and tradition is brought to camp in their luggage, especially different languages. The first few days at camp are the biggest adjustment to new accents and slang and learning how people use different words and names for everyday objects is fascinating. Jandals, togs, sunnies and jumpers are some of the words international staff members use on the daily, it can be pretty easy to get lost in translation. Even though many staff members speak different languages and use foreign words and phrases, all staff members, whether international or not, share and understand the same message about Camp Starlight. Summer camp is a place you go to help change a camper’s life for the better–no slang can change the meaning behind those words. Everyone here understands that working at Camp Starlight is an opportunity to not only help these campers grow, but for yourself to grow as well. Counselors do come from all over the world to work at Camp Starlight, and while they all may have different accents, they all know that being at summer camp is a time to allow kids to be kids.

Krispy Kreme Makes for a Sweet Morning

July 18th, 2017

Instead of Reveille ringing throughout camp in the early morning, a famous jingle is played and awakens campers faster than ever before: it’s a Krispy Kreme morning. To excite campers for another fun day at Camp Starlight, the Krispy Kreme theme song is played all throughout camp and wakes up campers from their own dreams to enter a real dream of sugary glazed donuts. The jingle immediately has campers leaping out of their bunks and flying down to the Dining Hall in just their pajamas to get their hands on two perfectly glazed donuts. The giant green Krispy Kreme sign stationed at the front of the Dining Hall is like a beacon of light and hope to the campers and quickens their pace even more. No counselor needs to hurry their campers out of bed because the campers are already two steps ahead of them because they know how delicious and delightful the first bite of a Krispy Kreme will be. Waiting in line will deter no one as camp director David passes out the treats to every single camper while clad in a Krispy Kreme shirt and hat. Campers always look forward to Krispy Kreme breakfasts because of how fun it is to eat sugary donuts but they also love it so much because they get to eat these treats with all of their closest friends. The campers joke around with each other by pretending that the donuts are their own eyes or place them on their fingers to imagine a new diamond ring. The donuts bring out the most playful side of the campers in the morning and bring them together, bonded by sugar and laughter. Sitting down in the Dining Hall wearing pajamas and and spreading a smile full of Krispy Kreme, campers happily enjoy the special breakfast knowing that the rest of the day at Camp Starlight will be just as sweet.

Hugging Each Other Tight on Visiting Day

July 18th, 2017

The biggest countdown in the summer are the days, hours and minutes leading up to visiting day, the moment families can finally be reunited for the first time since they had to say goodbye at the start of the summer. During this countdown, parents and campers will anxiously try to imagine how it feels to hold each other in their arms after sprinting and rushing across the field the morning of visiting day. As campers cross out another day in their calendar at night, they visualize the cutting of the ribbon on visiting day that allows their parents to enter camp and embrace them with the warmest hugs. When visiting day finally arrives, campers wake up hours before reveille and jump about the bunks with excitement, happy to finally see their parents and curious to see what treats and toys they bring. Campers tidy up every single nook and cranny of the bunk to show their parents how responsible they’ve become at camp and prepare all their artwork they have crafted for them down at Arts & Crafts. Holding a giant welcome sign on the porch of every bunk, campers stretch their necks and widen their smiles, because they are inches away from feeling the genuine love of their family. Once families are reunited again, the biggest sigh of relief is released because up until this point in the summer, everyone had been holding their breath. When parents hug their kids and see how happy they are here at summer camp, they see how they have made a new home at Camp Starlight, this special place keeps their kids just as safe as when they are in their own arms.

The Empowerment of Cooking

July 17th, 2017

You are what you eat, it’s a simple state of fact. Whatever you put into yourself, you are affecting how your body and mind works and that ultimately decides how you succeed in your day. At Camp Starlight, campers are provided with the opportunity to participate in a cooking activity so they can learn what they should nurture themselves with and how to put good into themselves to get good out. A vital skill in life, cooking can be a very empowering activity for a camper because they learn how to create good nourishment for themselves with a few ingredients and some simple steps. When campers see they can create something both delicious and healthy for themselves, they are able to have more control in their life and become a more independent individual. These are the skills that will last the rest of their lives and campers are presented with the opportunity to not only add to their education of healthy eating and nourishment, but they get to advance their cooking skills and techniques. Learning about how to eat healthy is one thing, but the ability to know how to create the healthy food in the kitchen is another. At Camp Starlight, campers develop advanced knowledge about a healthy lifestyle in the interactive cooking activity, along with developing a passion for the art of cooking. Campers are able to let themselves go and let the ingredients come together to do the talking to produce something beautiful. When campers walk out the kitchen at the end of the activity they have learned about cooking, but they have learned even more about themselves and their abilities.

S-Days Change Up The Pace and Fun

July 17th, 2017

While most people tend to look forward to the weekends and dread Mondays, at Camp Starlight campers look forward to Mondays the most because they are S-Days. On these special days, a theme is designated for all the activities that take place that day and varies between division. Whether it’s a banana theme or a winter wonderland, these themes excite the campers for a day full of special events. S-Days change up the pace significantly at camp because the activities are longer and therefore fewer of them, allowing the campers to thoroughly enjoy an entire afternoon making volcanoes in a mad science activity or spending quality time at the waterfront while groups going tubing on the lake. S-Days keep campers on their toes because they really will never know what to expect. Additionally, the element of surprise with S-Day themes excites the campers even more and really brings them together when they finally get to dress up or participate with the theme. These special Mondays are what campers look forward to every week, but they look forward to spending them together with their friends even more. The chance to be silly in themed costumes or fool around in these themed activities is how campers form deeper bonds and connections with one another.

Campers Teach Counselors Valuable Lessons

July 16th, 2017

Throughout a normal day at Camp Starlight, campers will be often asked what they learned that day. Did they master a new serving technique in tennis? Did they learn how to overcome stage fright for the play on Saturday night? There are many lessons a camper can learn from their counselors, but there are also many lessons campers can teach to counselors. The most valuable lesson counselors are taught by their campers is that of patience. It is not a fast lesson or something learned in one period of the day, patience is taught over a long time. Patience teaches counselors how to reword or rephrase directions so that campers can better understand them, patience bridges a language barrier. Patience shows counselors to be straight to the point with directions and to be kind at all times, even if the day is not going as smoothly as desired, learning not to sweat the small stuff and that there is a way around every obstacle. Patience is how hard work is completed and positive results are made, slacking in energy will only hinder the progress and yourself. It is amazing to see that even though counselors are doing most of the teaching in terms of technique, skill and instruction, campers are the one that do most of the life changing in the counselor. Campers are full of surprises in terms of what they have learned and what they can create, but they consistently teach counselors the same lesson of patience every summer and the lesson isn’t fully taught until the last day of summer. When the counselor sees their campers accomplished in their sport or activity on the last day, this is when the lesson of patience is learned and mastered by the counselor.