From Camper To Counselor

February 8th, 2016

image1The first moment that I stepped off the bus in Starlight, Pennsylvania I got a feeling that I never would have had anywhere else. That feeling is now something that makes up a piece of my heart.

Starlight has given me opportunities that I otherwise would’ve never had. As a child, some of the most valuable lessons I learned were the ones I learned at camp. The most important lesson I learned was the value of true friends.

The girls in your bunk just become the people you spend summer after summer with and winter after winter missing. But as the years dwindled down and your time as a camper grew shorter, you realize that in life it is important to treasure the moments with the people who started out as strangers and eventually became family.

As I carry these friendships into my time as a counselor I embrace new friendships with those who are taking on camp for the first time. I have met people from all around the world with such interesting life experiences that I would never been exposed to had it not been for camp. This is something special that camp has to offer.

The relationships with your campers that you make throughout the summer as their counselor are unforgettable. The campers have the ability to push you to your limits and teach you things about yourself that you might have otherwise never known. Over the seven weeks of the summer you become their role model, a feeling that is indescribable.

As an former camper, I am given the opportunity to give back to Starlight and create lifelong memories for the campers like my counselors had once done for me. My favorite part of being a counselor is seeing the campers’ smiles throughout the summer and tears as they leave, because I know that I have made an impact on their lives forever.

Starlight is such a special place that will remain in my life forever. Every day at school I think about how each day that passes brings me one day closer to being at my happy place. Not every person gets the opportunity to have a home away from home like I do, so every second that I spent at Camp Starlight is a second that I cherish for the rest of my life.

Written by former camper Allix.

 

It’s just a camp thing!

February 2nd, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.24.49 PM“It’s just a camp thing.” If you’ve ever been a summer camper or camp counselor, chances are it’s a phrase you know well. I mean, how else can you explain all the wacky traditions at summer camp?

From the absurd lunchtime songs to the campfire skits full of inside jokes, camp and school are as different as apples and orangutans. (And just like apples and orangutans, one is a whole lot more unexpected than the other!)

Here are just a few of the ways that camp is different from life at school! A word of warning: don’t read this list if summer is far away!

Yes, summer camp is that awesome. :)

Fact: “fun in the sun” is good for your health

You know that “fun in the sun” puts a smile on your face — but did you also know that it provides you with vitamin D, keeping your mind and body healthy?

Not only that, but some studies have even shown that time in the sun can combat a variety of common problems from depression to fatigue. Who knew!

Our “thesis” has always been that camp makes you happy. Turns out there’s some science to back up our hunches! 😉

A break from homework

Homework is a healthy part of your school experience, but it certainly won’t be following you out to Camp Starlight.

In fact, we have a strict anti-homework rule in place! (Just kidding — if you really want to do some multiplication tables or summer readying, be our guest! And more power to you.)

Learning still happens at Camp Starlight, but it’s all experiential learning. While math class is good for you arithmetic skills, the activities at camp tend to focus on building other skills: like leadership, compassion, and teamwork. Thankfully, playing games with your friends tends to be way more fun than practicing grammar rules before a test!

Learning at camp

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 4.38.53 PMJust because it’s far away from school doesn’t mean learning stops when you’re at summer camp. From team sports that build your communication abilities to craft workshops that get you in touch with your inner artist, camp activities are carefully designed to always be teaching you an important life skill.

Taking a break from “hitting the books” is great for making sure you’re fully charged for the next year, and all the activities and social opportunities at summer camp make it the perfect place to recharge!

Counselors vs. Teachers

Just like school, camp isn’t completely a free-for-all. Our team of highly-trained and passionate counselors are always on hand to make sure the fun and games go off without a hitch.

That being said, counselors and teachers have a few differences. If you’ve ever been in a big brother or big sister program, you probably have a good idea of what having a counselor is like. Someone who looks out for you, guides you through any conflict or questions you have about life at camp, and makes sure you brush your teeth a couple times a day.

The difference is, camp counselors act about 100 times more zany while they do it! Remember, we’re here to have the time of our lives!

…But don’t take our word for it. Come join in the fun!

The only way to truly discover how different camp life is from school life is to try it out. It’ll be different from anything you’ve ever done before, but we have a feeling you’re an adventurous sort anyway. Plus, you’ll finally understand what everyone means when they say “it’s just a camp thing.”

Those of you who are summer camp regulars, be sure to keep your grades up and hang in there. We promise summer will be here before you know it!

Interning at Camp Starlight

January 21st, 2016

54ef49ff-9ab5-41b4-978a-b437ed3421e3Searching for internships can be stressful. Not only are you competing with every college student in the country, but also you’re competing against yourself. College age kids, more affectionately referred to as “millennials” are looking for internships that not only make their resume better than their classmates, but also lets them make a difference as opposed to making copies. For some, making copies at a high end accounting firm, or fetching coffee at multi-million dollar tech company is fine, as long as they can put it on their resume and fake it in their next interview about what they truly did all summer. But for others, the ability to take ownership of a project, to look back on a summer and say, “I can’t believe I did that!”, is more important than working for a fortune 500 company.

 

For me, I knew going in I didn’t want to wear a suit to work everyday. I didn’t want a 9-5 job where I knew I would be watching the clock all day. I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to have fun doing it. After countless Google searches, one job stood out to me, Camp Counselor. Being from the Midwest I didn’t go to camp. No one did. So I applied, what did I have to lose?

 

f44a8494-83cf-4f5d-9387-e92327a7e2cdBelieve me, I was skeptical. but the beauty of interning at camp is that I got to make my own experience. When I was interviewing I let them know that I was looking for college credit and some sort of administration experience, being a business major. I was offered a role as part-time counselor, part-time programming assistant. The title itself did not express what I was doing all summer by any means. My time in the office allowed me to see the business side of camping and the industry as a whole. It opened my eyes to what it truly takes to run a top-tier summer camp. If there was a job to be done at camp I did it. Data entries, inventory, making sure program areas had supplies and were able to run efficiently. Heck I even fixed a few doors and put tables together.

 

Then the kids arrived…

 

2c45cf5e-75df-4b6c-ab34-85001e7eda15500 kids, all at once, and at that moment, camp became real to me. Apart from my responsibilities in the office I now had 10 kids that I had to take care of for 7 weeks. This is the part of my internship where I could really make a difference. Essentially, I was a parent for the summer, and that really intimidated me. I was still in school; I just got used to taking care of myself and now I need to care for a group of 9-year-old boys. But I quickly learned that although they were young, they were smart, self-sufficient, and ended up teaching me more than I could ever teach them.

 

My summer internship was unlike anyone I graduated with. I worked alongside the President and CEO’s of the company. I was a co-worker with 200 people from over 10 countries. I created excel documents by day and sang “Let It Go” as loud as I could by night. It wasn’t easy but I had the time of my life. I made a difference, and left my footprint. Most importantly, I walked away from the summer saying, “I can’t believe I did that”, and you can’t get that feeling making copies.

How Camptastic Are You?

January 10th, 2016

All of our Camp Starlight campers love their summers at camp! Want to know how camptastic you are? Take the quiz below!

Sailing the high seas… or the camp lake!

January 5th, 2016

 

11412068_10152924523001960_5082905044883132426_oCamp is filled with activities that allow you to learn new skills and test your limits.

Perhaps one of the most unique activities here at Camp Starlight when it come to having a blast and building character is sailing.

Sailing teaches many skills; how to tie nautical knots, understand the weather, and control a boat with nothing but the wind to guide you. But like any camp activity, the most important lessons being learned are team building, communication, and the power of believing in yourself!

Team Building

Sailing is a team activity, so learning to work with your “crew” is critical! Whatever style of boat you happen to be sailing, campers are constantly practicing team building skills with other campers on the lake.

  • Campers listen closely to what the rest of their crew is telling them, responding clearly and quickly to commands and questions. If you’re sailing solo, you will still have to communicate with other sailors on the water — so it’s lucky that all the sailing terminology is totally fun!
  • Sailing teaches you to trust in the skills of your crewmates (even if the worst that can happen is getting wet!) You won’t have time to check that every knot is tied correctly, so you’ll soon learn to trust that your friends will stay on top of their duties while you’re on the water, so long as you’re holding up your end of the bargain.
  • When you’re sailing, there’s a job for everyone on the boat. You and your fellow campers will quickly learn to identify situations where you can jump in and help each other.

Self confidence

It’s normal to feel a little hesitant your first time out on the lake. However, with practice you’ll develop your skills and, along with them, self-confidence.

11411756_10152924528446960_8550865432487014513_oCreating small, measurable goals such as learning new knots can slowly increase your confidence. Small setbacks (like having trouble steering!) followed by successes (catching the wind at just the right angle) teach the importance of bouncing back in the face of discouragement.

Organization and Planning

Managing any boat, even a single-person craft, requires organization and planning. You have to assess multiple factors such as the weather, obstacles in the water, and the lay of the shoreline to navigate your boat to your destination. You also have to keep your sails and lines organized for quick course changes — easily the hardest part of the sailing activity!

Sailing also taps into leadership skills, requiring campers to create a plan and divide responsibilities between the crew. Campers quickly learn to recognize crewmembers’ talents and divide the sailing tasks between everyone aboard accordingly.

Ready for anything

While you’ll learn plenty of physical skills while sailing the camp lake, you will also be practicing important life-skills that can help you at camp, in school, and everywhere else that teamwork and communication are important to success.

The secret to sailing is striking the balance between having a detailed plan and being adaptable when conditions change. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good strategy for most everything at camp — and life in general!

So have a blast on the lake this summer. May the winds always be at your back!

 

Stack the Caps at Camp Starlight

December 28th, 2015

unnamedIt was fantastic to see one of Camp Starlight’s campers, Sam Seltzer, host “Stack The Caps” at his school!

He collected over 200 new and unused baseball hats that he will be donate to kids with cancer.

If your Interested in hosting your own Stack the Caps event in your local community, check out our website at stackthecaps.com.

And don’t forget to bring your caps to camp this summer for our annual Stack the Cap event.

 

How to make a friendship bracelet (Trust us, you’ll be needing a few!)

December 21st, 2015

Friendship bracelets and summer camp go together like… well, summer camp and friendship bracelets!

Saying goodbye is always bittersweet. Colorful handmade bracelets and anklets keep the campfire vibes alive through the winter months — the more sun-faded, the better.

So far as supplies go you only need three things to get started:

  1. colorful embroidery floss
  2. beads (optional: for flair)
  3. imagination

There are dozens of different styles when it comes to friendship bracelets. Here are a few of the tried-and-true classics that every summer camper should learn!

The Classic Braid

The classic braid is the go-to standard of friendship bracelets. If you can braid hair, you already basically know how to make one. If you don’t… well, read on!

Start by cutting three pieces of embroidery floss. How long? Well, measure around your wrist, and add an inch or two for beginning and closing knots. Consider using more than one color to give the bracelet some personality!

Tie the three pieces together at one end and begin braiding the floss. You can pin the end down with a clothespin if that helps keep you steady. As for how to braid, just follow the steps in the image below and repeat until you reach the end of the floss:

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Image source: http://laurenhartmann.com/

Once you reach the bottom, just tie the loose ends with any knot that strikes your fancy.

Now the only task left is finding a friend and helping each other tie them around your wrists! See you next year — pinkie promise.

The Fishtail

The Fishtail is similar to the Classic Braid, but with a few twists that make it a little trickier to pull off. The final result is a little chunkier than the Classic Braid, adding some variety to your styles if you happen to be wearing more than a few. (If you’re a lifelong camper, we’re sure you are.)

But don’t worry; if you can tie a fishtail braid in your hair, tying a Fishtail bracelet should be no problem!

To begin, select about a dozen different colors of embroidery floss and cut them to length, just as with the Braid above. Tie them all together at one end, and braid following his pattern until you get to the end:

Untitled1

Tie the end and slip in a few beads if you’re feeling inspired — case closed!

Knotted Bracelet

If you can master the Classic Braid and Fishtail, get ready for your final challenge: the Knotted Bracelet! It’s a little trickier than the others, so be sure to pay close attention; especially for the beginning and end, when you’re measuring out the “clasp” part of the bracelet.

Untitled3

Detailed instructions are available over at The Red Kitchen.

Friendship never ends

The only trouble with friendship bracelets is finding enough wrist and ankle space to wear them all! Just be sure to save a little room for next summer… and the one after that.

Adding a little personalized spark to all three bracelet styles is easy: just mix in beads, or maybe even pieces of camp life like acorn caps and seeds.

We’re excited to see what you can dream up.

Camp crafts: keeping the arts alive

December 14th, 2015

Summer camp isn’t just about campfires and sports and jumping in the lake: we’re happy to report that the arts are alive and well at Camp Starlight!

From fine art to ceramics to theater, there are activities and specialty resources available for practically anything a creative spirit could dream of.

Art offers variety

Camp is a hands-on place, so it makes sense that the hands-on approach applies even outside the core activities like sports and archery. Not everybody wants to be on their feet all day, so painting, ceramics, and other studio arts give campers a chance to slow down, zone in, and get their hands dirty in a creative environment.

Not a huge fan of ultimate frisbee? How about ceramics then! Not a pottery buff? Maybe some theater will float your boat? Camp is full of creative outlets, and everybody gets a chance to try out as many different mediums as they want until they find the one that speaks to them.

Art builds real-world skills

One of the best things about doing arts activities at camp is how they build on themselves from year to year, all while connecting with students’ activities and interests during the school year.

Campers who dream of going to art school can find plenty of time and resources for honing the skills they already have, while newcomers to a craft can start fresh and continue to grow the next summer if they desire.

At camp, the level a camper wants to reach within the arts is completely within their own control. The sky’s the limit!

Theater keeps everyone laughing

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.30.52 AMWhat’s a campfire without some good-natured inside jokes? Theater is a great way for campers to play and practice team organization outside the sports environment. The end product is usually a little on the goofy side (this is summer camp after all, not Shakespeare in the round), but what’s really valuable about the activity is applying those teambuilding skills to something more like “real life” than a team sport.

You could say that the team that plays together, stays together.

Self-expression builds confidence

Ultimately, the goal of creative activities at camp is to build confidence through self-expression.

The arts have always been a safe place for campers to express the things they have on their minds. Making art in a community ensures that everybody gets plenty of attention, and skilled instructors are always on hand to pair campers with the tools appropriate to their skill level. No matter the discipline, every camper gets a chance to show their own unique creative spark.

Camp isn’t just a fun place — it’s a creative place too! So get creative in the arts. There’s no better time than summer to make something spectacular!

Living in the moment at Camp Starlight

December 8th, 2015

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.24.49 PMIt was midway through the fifth week of summer camp that I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.

…Or what week it was.

And you know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy for months.

After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?

Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.

After a long school year of classes and homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.25.35 PM“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.

…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — and to keep my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.

Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. In fact, living in the moment is pretty much the default at camp. There simply isn’t much to worry about, and it’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.

So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!

However, that isn’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the thing you’re rushing to get to being a ton of fun!

There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying that “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!

Honestly, the only calendar any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We had learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!

Woodworking: It’s back in style!

December 1st, 2015

Have you been keeping up on Parks & Rec lately? Yeah, so have we. (You have to do something when summer ends, right?)

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Here at camp pretty much everything reminds us of camp activities, but apparently we’re not the only ones: and Nick Offermans’ goofy woodworking-obsessed character has gotten us particularly excited to dive into some traditional American crafting in the shop at Camp Starlight!

“It’s difficult to name a favorite wood. They are all so noble, each with its own special characteristics.”

– Nick Offerman, Parks & Rec

Okay, maybe you don’t have to be as serious about woodworking as they are on Parks & Rec, but getting crafty in the shop is definitely a ton of fun.

Traditional skills are hip… and practical

Woodworking is one of those traditional skills that is slowly being lost in much of the country. Trying it out at camp is as much about getting in touch with the history of craftsmanship as it is about learning practical skills that will serve you well next time you need to use a little elbow grease on a home-improvement project.

It’s like the school shop with extra imagination

The best part about woodworking at Camp Starlight is that it isn’t “just any” woodworking class. If you think building a chair in the shop at school sounds boring, how about building a rustic necklace, or something you can use in your room — like a laptop tray? Campers have built some pretty crazy stuff in summers past, including:

  • Sundials
  • Wall hangings
  • Windmills
  • Creative sculptures
  • Rustic signs

…and the list goes on.

If you can imagine it, you can build it. Staff specialists work with you to help you learn the tools, and then your creativity gets to run wild making something cool along with the group… or going rogue and making something else entirely.

Woodworking projects are great gifts for family (hint, hint)

If you’re racking your brains trying to think of a good Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or Holiday gift, keep it in mind when you hit the shop next summer. Everyone loves homemade gifts, so a handmade gift from the camp woodworking shop is sure to fit the bill. It’s certainly less boring than socks!

Whatever you bring home from the camp woodworking shop, it’s guaranteed to surprise your folks. Camp isn’t just fun — it can also be practical.

We can’t wait to build more awesome stuff next summer! See you in the shop!

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