Working at Camp Starlight as a Resume Builder

January 15th, 2018

After working a summer at sleepaway camp, it is hard to summarize the vast amount of experience gained in just a few weeks. Over the course of one summer, you are presented with challenges, lessons, an increased set of skills, and numerous other benefits. When you think of a summer spent working at sleepaway camp, the first thing that comes to mind are the times spent on the field helping kids learn how to kick a soccer ball, in the bunk playing jacks with your campers, or at the evening campfires roasting S’mores. Because each of these moments are filled with lifelong memories, it can be challenging to recognize that these moments are extremely applicable in the professional world.

A summer working at Camp Starlight teaches you how to be responsible, a valued leader, confident, a team player, and a problem solver. The ability to work with people from all different backgrounds and age levels is an opportunity that many people cannot say they have had. Fortunately, in your role as a counselor at sleepaway camp, you have attained skills that are attractive to employers and that are immensely useful in the professional sphere.

Recognizing Strengths and Weaknesses

At Camp Starlight, you are exposed to a wide range of individuals from around the world. In the bunk, you can live with children from ages seven to sixteen from all parts of the United States. Counselors come from the U.S., the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia. This unique environment presents the opportunity to understand, connect with, and appreciate all individuals around you. With each relationship established, the ability to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your peers increases tenfold.

In the professional world, it is of extreme importance to be able to work with people of all different backgrounds and cultures. With each background and culture comes different expectations that must be met if you want to be successful. Working at sleepaway camp gives you the experience necessary to meet these challenges and expectations. Having the ability to recognize what will both facilitate and hinder success is a skill that is invaluable in any profession.

Leadership

As a counselor, each day presents you with the opportunity to develop who you are as an individual and further increase your confidence. Higher confidence enables individuals to make decisions more effectively, have stronger performance capabilities, and deliver a higher quality of work. Both on the fields and in the bunk, you are a coach and a role model to all of the children at camp. Having this opportunity at all hours of the day at camp transforms counselors into empowered leaders with an unprecedented drive for success.

Confidence and leadership both go a long way in the professional world. From applying for a job and mastering the interview to giving a presentation to your boss, having a feeling of empowerment ensures a high success rate in the workplace.

Communication

Camp Starlight is a fast-paced environment where anything could happen. Over the course of the summer, there could be inclement weather, changing preferences of campers, or changes to the daily/nightly schedule. These changes emphasize the importance of being a flexible employee and communicating effectively with those around you. This also leads to high innovative abilities that encourages counselors to excel at camp.

Along with the fast-paced nature of camp, conflicts between campers in the bunk and amongst counselors do arise. The ability to communicate powerfully during times of conflict allow for problem solving and conflict resolution. Communication helps individuals to find a commonality that will end conflict and bring people together as a unified front.

In every workforce no matter the department or field of profession, communication is the key to the success of a company. Without communication, deadlines cannot be met and progress will not be made. Learning how to communicate effectively at camp will allow you to enter into the working force with both ease and success.

 

Camp: The Ultimate Career Prep

January 8th, 2018

The last thing kids are thinking about as they are running, dancing, jumping, singing, and playing at camp is what they want to be when they grow up. But counselors and staff at Camp Starlight know that the things campers experience and learn during this time in their lives can directly impact the adults that they become. Spending a summer at camp fosters valuable like skills in campers that can prepare them to enter the professional world.

Teamwork

Even if campers end up owning their own business or going the entrepreneurial route, they will still need to know how to work well with others. This is why learning to play well with others is such a valuable skill. Counselors lead by example and demonstrate practical communication skills, conflict management, compromise, listening skills and working together. Many camp activities require campers to work together in order to be successful. Campers learn to trust and encourage each other. Campers who feel confident working with others at camp build a solid foundation for teamwork in the workplace.

Problem Solving

One of the biggest characteristics employers look when they are hiring is problem solving. They want to be sure the person they hire can not only identify a problem, but also figure out a solution, often without needing much guidance or direction. Campers are given multiple opportunities throughout the summer to identify obstacles and find a solution. Whether they are solving a problem with a friend or learning a new athletic skill, problem solving happens all day at camp and is a valuable life skill for campers to build upon.

Perseverance

Nobody likes a quitter. In the workplace, employers expect employees to give their job their all, and not to give up when it gets hard. Pushing through obstacles and preserving through a difficult task is crucial for workplace efficiency. Campers are encouraged to stick with difficult tasks, even if it means walking away and taking a deep breath to clear their minds. Seeing a project through to completion is what will set campers apart from their coworkers when they enter the workforce.

Time Management

Time management is another important skill campers learn without even realizing it. While a variety of activities available for them to try, campers are responsible for planning out their day so they get the most out of each activity. Campers learn to factor in things like travel time between activities or how much prep time is required between events. Most employers don’t tolerate excessive tardiness, so learning the importance of being on time and early will help campers be successful in the real world. They’re also given opportunities to extend grace and courtesy to those who are running behind, and taught to exercise patience when things don’t always go according to plan. Campers learn to be flexible and understanding, while also learning how to prioritize important events during their daily routine.

Organization

For many campers, camp is the first time they will share a private space with a group of people they don’t know. They quickly learn to organize their personal belongings in a way that makes them easily accessible but out of the way of others. A clean and organized desk or workspace increases productivity and is a sign of respect when working close to others. Campers are expected to keep their personal space neat and tidy, and be respectful of the people that share their space. Learning how to be organized at camp can directly transfer over to being organized at home and in their future professional environment.

Spending a summer at camp is one of the best things you can do for the future of your child. It is a fun way to build character and prepare them for the real world. Campers learn valuable life lessons on a daily basis at camp, all while having the best summer of their lives. Camp staff is focused on developing the whole camper, and embrace the opportunity to prepare each camper for success. When they finally enter the workforce, campers will be prepared with the confidence and skills required to be successful.

Mindfulness at Camp

January 3rd, 2018

Children and teenagers are constantly surrounded by stimuli. They are easily overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that surround them, and often don’t have the skills to be fully present and limit distractions. This is why more and more teachers and professionals are incorporating mindfulness into their curriculum. And why Camp Starlight has been doing it since the beginning.

Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Campers all have the ability to be mindful, but there are proven techniques to help them perfect their skill. At camp, we incorporate these techniques into every day living to help campers improve their focus and concentration. It helps them be present in the moment and hyper-aware of their body, their space, and their surroundings.

Camp is a busy, noisy, active place. The energy on the campus is undeniable and can be felt from the moment you arrive. However, camp counselors and staff highly encourage campers to take periods of time throughout the day to relax, stay quiet, and unwind. Some campers choose to journal, write letters home, meditate, or even sleep during this time. This critical “down” time allows campers to stay in tune with their thoughts and feelings, and reflect on the activities of the day.

Meditation is a big part of the mindfulness initiative, but there are other ways campers can learn to be mindful. Campers may find themselves waiting to take their turn for different things throughout the day. Waiting is an excellent opportunity to tune in to their inner thoughts and feelings. A quick breathing exercise or an intentional appreciation for the space around them is a great way to practice mindfulness. For many people, listening intently and carefully is a challenge. Sometimes we are thinking more about our response than actually listening to what someone has to tell us. By focusing on being better listeners, campers can improve their communication skills and be mindful at the same time.

One of the things campers learn quickly is the power of connecting with nature. It’s always incredible what a quiet walk by the lake can do to clear your mind of negativity, anger, frustration, or fear. Camp Starlight gives campers the unique opportunity to connect with nature. Observing the natural beauty that surrounds them can help campers feel calm and connected when things seem to be getting out of control. Learning the calming power of a nature hike at camp is a coping strategy campers take with them for the rest of their lives.

Camp may be a busy place with lots to see and do, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for campers and staff to get in tune with their thoughts and feelings. Teaching mindfulness is just another way Camp Starlight fosters future leaders, builds character and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Teaching 21st Century Skills in a Camp Setting

December 4th, 2017

Camp Starlight knows that the weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It is an opportunity to do character building and confidence boosting. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. The work we do here, although disguised as fun, is serious. We use the limited time we have with our campers and use it to instill 21st-century principles that promote strong character, morals, and ideals in every camper.

 

When campers are guided on how to solve their differences through careful and respectful mediation, they are learning how to disagree with others without being mean or hurtful. When they can identify their feelings and communicate it with others, they are learning conflict management skills and maturing in their emotional development. These tools are vital in navigating the “real world” whether it’s their school campus, their first job or their first relationship. At camp, kids learn to respect each other, listen without interrupting, compromise, communicate, and be patient and considerate and honest. These principles will make it easier for them to maintain healthy relationships as they grow.

 

Each camper has a responsibility to keep the campus as beautiful as it was when he or she arrived. Our zero tolerance policy for littering and our emphasis on taking care of the environment helps campers realize how they impact the environment and how important it is to keep the world around them clean. Campers spend most of their days outside, connecting with nature and learning to appreciate the beauty around them. Exploring and enjoying Mother Nature doesn’t come naturally to all campers, and spending time at camp helps develop an appreciation for the environment.

 

At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended) fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they are all, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. They learn to help each other; to recognize a need in other campers and address it. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. Camp Starlight is intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.

 

Campers go home with more friends, better skills and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves a bit better than they came. And that we can instill basic morals and ideals into them that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families every year.

Limitless Love

November 27th, 2017

 

 

Whether you are a camper, staff member, parent, or alumni, Camp Starlight has an intense impact that can’t be ignored. There is a monumental significance that summer camp provides to a person’s life. An environment is fostered that allows you to become the person you’ve always dreamed of being. Friendships are established, memories are made, and life lessons are learned and carried out for many years to follow. The bottom line is, sleepaway camp provides an overall plethora of love and support for its entire community.

The camp environment facilitates a feeling of love and acceptance that is motivational and highly influential. Once an individual realizes that they are accepted for who they are, his or her potential for growth becomes unlimited. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have fortunately experienced this limitless love firsthand. For twelve summers, I have accumulated memories and experiences that are invaluable to me as an individual. The positivity and love that exists around camp is infectious and easily transferrable in all environments.

My summer camp career at Starlight began in June 2006. I was a ten year old girl that was extremely shy and often kept to myself. I played a few sports but I never fully embraced my athletic potential and teamwork capabilities. Despite my many fears, I bravely introduced myself to my fellow bunkmates. Within minutes, I felt accepted and loved in my new bunk of eleven girls knowing that we were going to face this new experience of camping together. Throughout the summer, I learned how to work as a team and handle conflict. My confidence and individuality blossomed as I tried new activities and experienced new adventures with my new bunk family cheering me on. My bunkmates and I overcame obstacles together, recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and supported one another each and every day. While some members of my bunk shined on the soccer field and tennis courts, others lived for the chance to perform in the camp play or be featured in a dance number. Despite our preference of activities and different strengths, living together each and every day enabled our limitless love for one another as we cheered each other on and were there for a helping hand. Before I knew it, my first summer came to an end and I began counting down the days until I could return back to my summer home. Throughout the long ten months spent away from camp, I kept in constant contact with my fellow bunkmates and had several reunions. At each reunion, my bunkmates and I picked up right where we left off and continued to make lifelong memories.

Fast forward six years to 2012 when I became a staff member at Camp Starlight. Although I had been a camper for six years, the butterflies I had in my stomach putting on that staff shirt for the first time brought me back to the same nervous feeling I had when I started my camp career. However, the moment I stepped into my new bunk and met my campers, I was hit a feeling of gratification and excitement. I recognized that I had the power to be a role model for these campers as my past counselors once were to me. I took pride in helping my campers learn their lines for camp plays, rooting them on in each sport they tried, and being there for any assistance that they needed.

The year is now 2017 and I have had the privilege of being a counselor to six unique bunks of girls. Each group provided me with irreplaceable memories. My first campers back in 2012 are now in high school thinking about which colleges they should apply to and learning how to drive a car. I have had the unique opportunity to watch my campers grow as individuals and accomplish several milestones. I look forward to the day each June when my campers from past summers run off the buses, hug me hello, and tell me what their year had in store for them.

 

Along with the many memories made with campers throughout the past summers at Starlight, I have made new friendships with counselors from around the world. I am in constant contact with counselors from the UK, Australia, and other parts of the United States. These friendships motivated me to travel to Europe this past year where I knew I would have a warm welcome and a place to stay. It’s an indescribable feeling to know that no matter where you go in the world, there will always be someone with an open door waiting to embrace you.

Twelve years have passed since I first began sleepaway camp as an anxious ten-year old girl. Looking back, I have recognized how much my life has been changed from attending summer camp. Thanks to the nurturing and loving environment fostered at Camp Starlight, I have become a more independent and caring adult.

 

 

All photos courtesy of Madison Dratch.

Learning to Look on the Bright Side at Summer Camp

November 20th, 2017

A silver lining can be defined as finding the hopeful side to any situation, no matter how gloomy. Silver linings are small blessings that can lift the spirits of individuals as well as put an instant smile on your face. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have an unlimited amount of silver linings that I can recall at any moment of the day to make it better. For twelve summers that I spent at Camp Starlight, I have had the opportunity to make memories, both big and small, that are impossible to forget. With each summer comes new bonds and irreplaceable friendships. After these twelve summers, I have the ability to remain positive and look on the bright side of just about any situation I am faced with. This skill is one that I have incorporated into my daily life in countless environments, both inside and outside of camp.

 

At Camp Starlight, small blessings radiate wherever you look. The support network is unprecedented in the fact that everyone in the camp community looks on the bright side. Whether it be helping to sweep the bunk before inspection, campers cheering a bunkmate on as she climbs the rock wall, or counselors reading a story before bed, the positive feeling of love and support ruminates throughout the camp environment.

 

While camp presents campers and counselors with this magical feeling of happiness, there are obstacles that are faced over the course of the summer. Changes in weather, homesickness, arguments, and disappointment is inevitable. However, camp provides its community with an opportunity to learn how to overcome these challenges by looking on the brightside. For every moment that appears to be gloomy, there is someone there to lend a supportive hug or helping hand to cheer you up. At Camp Starlight, the love between individuals is genuine and powerful. Being able to have real conversations and talk through difficult situations with friends and counselors alike is the silver lining that makes camp so unique.

 

These small blessings and ability to overcome obstacles at camp helps to prepare us for the daily routines we face during the other ten months of the year. Instead of needing help cleaning the bunk or feeling down after losing a sports game, campers and counselors are now faced with the challenges of school work and the professional world.

 

Philosophies learned at camp are ingrained in both campers and counselors as we remember the importance of remaining positive and supportive to those around us. These same campers that once needed help making their beds over the summer, now have the skill set and ability to support those friends in the classroom. This includes helping others with homework assignments, raising money for a school event, or even cheering on the school’s sports teams. For counselors in college and in the workforce, the attitudes and lessons learned at camp are easily transferable to all tasks. These can include pulling an all-nighter before an exam or meeting important deadlines set by your boss. It is the inner drive to look on the bright side that motivates campers and counselors to find a silver lining in all that they do.

It is OK to Act Your Own Age – How camp allows kids and young adults to enjoy being young

November 13th, 2017

Many first time parents are guilty of rushing their babies from one milestone to the next, pushing them to sit then crawl then walk, while seasoned parents have learned to appreciate each step and understand how fast each stage flies by. As kids grow, they too can find themselves wishing their childhood away, always wishing they were older and on to the next stage of their lives. In this fast-paced world, kids are hurrying through the most joyful times of their lives in pursuit of freedom and independence, and before they know it they’re paying bills and reminiscing about “the good ‘ol days”

 

Camp strives to meet kids right where they are; to embrace their innocence, their goofy-ness, their awkwardness and their curiosity. Camp is a safe place for kids to act like kids without the fear of being judged. Camp Starlight is serious about fun, and has become a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. Instead of taking selfies and worrying about where they fit in with their peers, they are chasing lightning bugs, judging belly flop contests, singing songs around a fire, and putting on shows. They are being kids, which is exactly how they should be spending their summers.

And kids aren’t the only ones acting like kids. Camp counselors come back year after year because of the freedom and joy that comes from being at camp. Camp counselors use their summers at camp as a way to escape the rules and restrictions of adulthood and embrace their inner child. They play games, dress up, sing songs and fully engage with the campers every day. They use this time to free themselves from the ridged expectations of their everyday lives and participate in the activities that make them feel like a kid again.

 

The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. With clubs, sports, family obligations and school expectations, kids can bogged down with responsibilities that takes the fun out of being a kid. Although a healthy balance of work and play is vital for growing minds, the summer should be a time where kids can relax a little and enjoy this fleeting time of their lives. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, getting dirty, trying new things and being silly. And that is exactly what Camp Starlight aims to offer each and every camper.

 

How Summer Camp Cultivates A Growth Mindset

November 6th, 2017

Camp Starlight is focused on developing the whole child in a way that is healthy and fun. And although all of the running, jumping, swimming, climbing, dancing, and playing is great for their physical health, working on their emotional well-being, their character, and their self-confidence is just as necessary. This is why we put so much emphasis on having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

 

By definition, people with a growth mindset “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

 

Campers come to camp with the labels and expectations that the world has put on them, and many have come to believe that these traits, both good and bad, are just an integral part of who they are. Some have been told they are smart their entire lives, and their fixed mindset makes them believe that their intelligence is something that comes naturally to them and doesn’t require effort to improve upon. The same goes for athletic performance, relational ability, and their character. Campers who have been told they have anger issues will begin to believe that they are incapable of handling their anger; it is a fixed part of them that can’t be changed or improved upon.

 

At Camp Starlight, we focus on fostering a growth mindset in each camper. When they succeed, we praise their efforts by saying things like “you worked so hard at that” instead of “you are awesome!” Although the latter can be helpful to hear, hearing specific praise acknowledging the effort that the camper put into a specific task is more rewarding and builds their self-esteem. Camp staff and counselors work hard to praise the process instead of just the person. Campers will hear us say things like:

  • Tell me more about what you did
  • How did you figure that out?
  • Are you pleased with how it came out?
  • You must be so proud of yourself

 

We try to avoid labeling campers or putting too much emphasis on the labels they put on themselves. We want to encourage them to see themselves as capable and worthy of improvement in all areas of their lives. We want them to strive to be the best versions of themselves instead of being complacent with the label they’ve grown so comfortable with.

 

As campers step out of their comfort zones and try new things, they realize that they are capable of so much more than they thought and that their qualities, strengths, and abilities are not fixed. We want campers to be intrinsically motivated; to try new thing and preserve through hard things to feel good about themselves, not because they are seeking the approval of anyone else.

 

A summer at camp is about growing, maturing, and improving in all areas of life. Our goal is that campers leave with new friends, new experiences, and a stronger sense of who they are and what a valuable asset they are to the world. And it all starts with how they think about themselves.

 

The Joy of Unplugging for the Summer

October 30th, 2017

 

Today’s world has become inundated with technology. Whether it be checking the amount of likes you received on your latest Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, or trying to take the perfect selfie, our focus on technology has overpowered our daily lives. Without the ability to live in the moment and appreciate our surroundings, technology continues to have the upperhand on blocking face to face communication between individuals. This is why getting the chance to unplug for seven weeks at camp is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the outside pressures of life and enjoy the people that surround you.

 

For seven of the fifty-two weeks of the year, you can explore everything the world around you has to offer. Once reveille blows in the morning, your day starts by enjoying the view of the morning mist coming off the lake and the sounds of birds chirping. Meals are filled with lively conversations with your bunkmates, spirited cheers, and songs. As the day progresses, opportunities to grow your creativity and skills continue. From learning how to dive at the lake to conquering your fear of climbing the rock wall to then fly down the zipline, unplugging allows us to experience new adventures each day of the summer.

 

It may sound far-fetched, but the friendships I have established at camp have surpassed all other relationships I have ever made. Camp friends see the real you, not the version of yourself that you post for the world to see on social media. Without the barrier of a screen between individuals, concrete bonds can form and lifelong memories are made. Interactions at camp are both real and authentic. I still talk to my bunkmates from my first summer in 2006, and when I see them, it is as if we have never been apart.

 

The unplugged atmosphere at camp allows you to be yourself at all hours of the day. Whether it be coming up with a dance for MTV night, going to different activities with your bunk, or dressing up for a wacky event, your spirit and confidence shines. Everywhere you look, people are smiling, cheering, singing, and dancing. At camp, you can be yourself and achieve all your expectations, with the acceptance and support of everyone around you.

 

The act of unplugging is so much more than being without technology for seven weeks. It’s a chance to explore, create, and experience new adventures. Unplugging has allowed friendships to be established and lifelong memories to be made. Most importantly, unplugging at camp allows us all to embrace our individuality and learn to be our true selves.

5 Things Campers Look Forward to the Most for the Summer

October 25th, 2017

For almost the entirety of the year, campers sit at home waiting for the summer to start. Drumming their fingers and looking back at all the fun they’ve had so far, campers dream about all the things they can look forward to once camp finally arrives. When campers are at home with wandering minds, here are the things they look forward to the most when they get to come back to Camp Starlight.

  1. Sleeping Bunks: Experiencing every night at Camp Starlight as a giant sleepover with your best friends is why campers daydream about being back in their bunk beds. Even when the day is over, campers are still able to have fun.
  2. The Lake: The sunsets, sailing, paddle boarding and water toys allow campers to splash around and have as much fun as possible in the water. The Lake is an iconic point of Camp Starlight for good reason.
  3. Unique Activities: Campers are able to learn many unique skills at camp from magic tricks and circus activities to cooking and waterskiing. Opportunities at Camp Starlight are not always available for kids outside the ten other months of the year.
  4. Their Friends: The Friendships formed at Camp Starlight are very special and unlike any other friendships you will encounter. The summer bonds campers together in a very unique that makes these friendships last way past the summer.
  5. Traditions: All the fun traditions Camp Starlight possesses is what makes a summer at Starlight full of excitement and adventure. Becoming a part of Starlight history and carrying on these traditions is what keeps the magic of camp alive.