Archive for May, 2011

Summer Camp: Improving Your Child’s School Performance

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Sure parents send their children to summer camp to have fun.  And letters home detailing exciting moments during the summer usually more than assure them that they’re getting their money’s worth.  But did you know that summer camp also may improve a child’s performance in school?

For one, there is routine.  Yes, it’s summer camp.  Yes, your children are letting loose and having some serious fun.  But they’re also maintaining a routine.   Studies have shown that children who maintain regular routines get better grades than those who don’t.  Many camp programs follow a schedule.  Although the individual activities vary from day to day, campers know when they will eat meals, have day and evening activities, shower, and go to bed from day-to-day.  Child-experts  have noted that maintaining a routine helps children stay focused because it keeps their lives calm and predictable.   When children feel calm and safe, they accept change more easily.  By maintaining a schedule at camp, children are able to transition more easily from the previous school year into the new one.  “Children handle change best if it’s expected and it’s handled in the context of a regular routine,” says Dr. Laura Markham, behavioral specialist.   Dr. Markham also notes that routine helps children understand expectations.  The faster children are able to transition into their new school year, get settled and understand expectations, the more likely they are to be successful.

Camp also provides social structure.  Social structure helps children learn how to interact with other people.  Ultimately, they become better communicators.  The benefit of being able to learn this process at camp is the camp social structure has a ready made support system.  Summer camp promotes a strong sense of family and tradition.  Emphasis is placed on the idea of each person being a valuable member of the camp family and the importance of individual contributions to the continuance of camp traditions.   Camps tend to place emphasis on fun rather than appearance. Children are also encouraged to be curious.  The atmosphere is very fun, playful, and nonjudgmental.  In his 2006 article Why play, Toys, and Games are Important, author Dr. Toy (yes, that’s his real name) says that children feel free to be themselves when they are relaxed and having fun, which makes them better listeners and communicators.  Students who are good communicators are less likely to feel frustrated in school.

As children mature at camp, they’re taught and given more responsibility.  From the first day they arrive at camp, campers obeserve that there are certain rites reserved for specific age groups.  They see that even they, as early campers, are not without their own special traditions.  But they also learn that there are things to look forward to in getting older and becoming more experienced campers.  Older campers take longer trips outside of camp and sometimes journey further away.  They stay up later.  They have more freedom of choice in their daily activities.  There are also have rituals exclusive to mature campers, something that younger campers learn to look forward to when they were young campers and of which they anticipate being a part.

Finally, there is the element of family in summer camp.  Not only do children learn to collaborate and be flexible by co-existing with others and participating regularly  in team sports and challenges, they are given additional tools by Camp Directors and Staff who care very much about them and their development.  Many camps utilize the services of professionals, such as MA Jeff Leiken, to implement special programs that help older campers prepare for high school and beyond by understanding how to maximize their potential for success.

Sure children have fun at summer camp!  But they also learn and maintain healthy habits that help them transition into the role of good student between summers.

*For more information or to contact Jeff Leiken, please visit his website

The Starlight Playhouse

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As the summer of 2011 approaches, the Starlight Playhouse will soon come alive. There are images of the Rec Hall lights dimming while a hush rolls over the roar of the crowd running through my mind.  I hear Jeff Moss announcing “Ladies and gentleman and children of all ages, the Starlight Playhouse proudly presents…” At that moment, electricity ignites the lights, speakers, and microphones and the red velvet curtains open, displaying the talented and dedicated actors and performers that deliver once in a lifetime performances that the socks off the delighted audience.

As we wait to find out what the 2011 show production line-up has in store for us, we are excited to announce the return of the Starlight Playhouse staff. The one and only, master of ceremonies, Jeffery B. Moss will be returning for his 44th summer at Camp Starlight as Theater Director. Denes Van Parys, better known as DVP, will be tickling the ivories and striking up the band all summer as Musical Director. Behind the scenes, you will find Lindsay Jennings meticulously creating new and exciting costumes, while Stephanie Rubenfeld works hard as Jeff’s right hand woman, helping the campers learn their lines while encouraging them from start to finish. We are very thrilled to introduce the new Technical Director, Christopher Goslin. He is a Technical Director and Adjunct Professor at Miami Dade College with an abundance of knowledge and experience that he looks forward to sharing with us this summer.


So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 3

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Finally, we close our trilogy of camp counselor tips with one last blog dedicated to you, future camp counselors…

Get ready to build your resume!  Working as a camp counselor at a summer camp will provide you with some invaluable experience that will serve you well far beyond this summer.  Many HR Managers in lots of different fields find summer camp experience very impressive because of the level of dedication and commitment required.  Summer Camp also demonstrates that you can adapt well to new cultures, which is essential for success in many corporate environments.  In fact, many corporate executives were once campers and/or camp counselors themselves.  If you’re an education major, it goes without saying that experience working directly with children is a huge plus on a new teacher’s resume.

One final warning: As a summer camp counselor, you will act goofy, dress funny, and find yourself doing all sorts of crazy things you’d probably never ordinarily do…and you’ll have a blast while doing them.  It’s what summer camp is all about.  But what other job can you get where being an expert in painting faces, making signs, inventing outrageous costumes, and acting silly are all just part of your typical workday?

So there you have it!  A few suggestions for preparing yourself for a great and successful summer.  Have fun!

Slope for Lope

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Slope for Lope is quickly becoming one of Camp Starlight’s favorite summer traditions. The excitement that builds in anticipation of the big morning is one that gets your motor running, blood pumping, and motivation to climb camp road at an all time high. The first time you do the Slope for Lope, many things are going through your head…

“Should I go out fast to get ahead?…Maybe I will start out at a leisurely pace and save my gusto for a strong finish!”

Maybe you’re a seasoned runner and you’re thinking about breathing patterns and the length of your stride. Whatever the mindset brings you up the winding road, the goal is the same, as you break the peak of the hill and begin the decline into the heart of camp.  You see the buzzing crowd waiting to greet the mass of runners. It is a race to the finish line where you’ll be rewarded with cheers, smiling faces, and a fresh slice of DEEEE-LICIOUS! We hope everyone is as excited as we are for Slope for Lope 2011!

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 2

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We promised a sequel and here it is: Orientation 101…

The first thing you should know about the orientation is don’t sweat it.  Yes, it’s intense.  Yes, it’s a VERY busy week and there is a lot to get done.  We know that, by the time months of anticipation for your new summer camp job to start come and you travel (sometimes for hours or even days) to get to the camp and find yourself actually there, even the most staunch start to feel the butterflies.  Remember that everyone with whom you come into contact those first few days is probably feeling the same butterflies—even returners who’ve done all of it before.  But relax.  Orientation is also full of opportunities.  Opportunities to learn more about your new surroundings, opportunities to learn more about your summer camp and embrace its traditions, opportunities to learn more about your summer job as a camp counselor, opportunities to change your mindset and grasp expectations, and opportunities to make friends.

Speaking of making friends, be ready to make LOTS of them from all over the world!  Sure your summer camp job will only last for a couple of months.  But a couple of months are plenty of time to make lifelong friends when you spend everyday together.   You may even find that you don’t need the whole summer to bond.  You’ll probably be planning vacations to visit some of your new friends during the winter before orientation is even over.

Don’t over- or under-pack.  Yes, we know that you’re going to want to cram your entire bedroom into your suitcase or duffel..  But the fact is that camp housing isn’t exactly spacious.  Most summer camps provide their camp counselors with packing lists.  Of course you’re going to want to bring a few personal items, but don’t stray too far from what’s recommended and definitely avoid packing the “DO NOT BRING” items.  In other words, make sure your camp permits camp counselors to bring outside food onto the campus before you pack a stash of Doritos and energy drinks.  It’s also a good idea to make sure you read the camps guidelines about permissible items, particularly those related to swimsuits and shoes.  Once you’re packed, inspect your suitcase one more time to make sure you remembered things that are often easily overlooked or forgotten by new summer camp counselors, like rain gear or bedding (if your summer camp requires you to bring your own).

Chances are that you’re going to get a very important email or envelope from your summer camp very soon, if you haven’t already.   It’ll have some pretty important paperwork for you to complete.  Be sure to pay attention to the specified deadlines for each form.  For one thing, you’re not going to want to be bothered with it after you get to camp.  For another, not filling it out on time may cause pesky delays in important things…like being paid!

Well that about covers the orientation.  We’ve still got enough tips left for you that we’re going to make this one a trilogy.  Be sure to come back in a few days for the final part of this series!

Pitchers and Catchers Report !

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

I know, I know, it hardly seems like spring in most of the Starlight Nation, but baseball season is well underway, which got me thinking about our new Baseball Director Todd Abel.

Todd comes to Camp Starlight from Randolph Henry High School in Charlotte County, Virginia where he is in his third season as head coach. Prior to accepting the position at Randolph Henry, Todd served as assistant coach at his alma mater Lynchburg College. He began coaching after a distinguished playing career.

In college,  Todd was a four year letter winner.  In 2004, he was inducted into the Lynchburg College Athletic Hall of Fame for his on-field excellence. At the completion of Todd’s college eligibility, he was drafted by the Texas Rangers, and spent two seasons in their minor league system before a shoulder injury ended his professional playing career.

Todd is very excited about meeting all of the Starlight family and making Wayne County his summer home.


So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 1

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

So you’ve gotten a great job at a summer camp and are wondering what to do while you impatiently wait for June to get here…

First things first.  You found this blog, so we’re assuming you want to know as much as you can before you leave.  You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a few suggestions for you…Actually, a lot.  In fact, since we understand that you’ve come to this site to read a blog, not War and Peace, we’re going to have to divide this into a few different parts.  But we figure that’s okay because they do it with movies all of the time, right?  So without any further delay…

Have you started checking out your camp’s blog as well as this one?   Many camps now maintain regular blogs and they frequently post blogs (like this one) intended specifically for staff members.

Check out the camp’s website, if you haven’t about a thousand times already.   Even if you visit the website everyday and spend hours staring dreamily at the photos as you imagine images of you having the perfect summer showing up on the site this time next year, dig a little deeper.  A camp’s website can also tell you a lot about the very special world that you will be part of this summer.  Many camps  have FAQ pages for staff members or special staff areas.  They give you ideas about what to bring and what to leave at home.  Some post sample daily schedules, which are a great way to familiarize yourself with how you will be spending your days.  If there are videos on the site (or if the camp sent you one), watch them.  Not only will you be ready to leave the same day, but it’s a great way to get to know the camp.

If the camp has Facebook or Twitter pages, join them.  They’re another way to keep up to date on what’s happening and, as summer inches closer, the anticipation that builds is infectious.  Many camps also post helpful information or instructions for staff members as summer nears.  Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with other staff members before you get to camp.  Not to worry, though.  You’ll make PLENTY of new friends during your Orientation, even if you show up knowing no one!

Prepare to work hard.  We won’t lie.  Camp is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have.  It’s also one that you’ll probably love the most.  Every second of every day, SOMETHING is happening at camp.  It’s all a lot to take in at first, but the chances of you making it through the last day at camp without shedding a single tear and hugging hundreds of people are pretty much nil-to-none.  And you’ll probably be making plans to come back next summer before this one’s even over.

Well, like we said, we’re well aware that if you were looking for a novel, you’d be downloading the latest best seller for you Kindle right now.  So we’ll call it a day for this blog.  Be sure to tune in next time for advice about what to pack (and not) and some tips for orientation.