Archive for October, 2011

Learning Self-Reliance at Summer Camp

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

When the time comes to make the decision about sending a child to summer camp, many parents worry because it will often be the first time their children will be “on their own”.  How will they decide what to wear, what to eat, and in which activity periods to participate?  Easily overlooked is the staff of young, yet well-trained staff just waiting to help campers with such decisions.  However, essentially to parents, it’s the first time their children will be making a lot of their own decisions, and it’s nerve-wracking to think how they will do not being under their parents’ watchful eyes.  But wait!  Isn’t this what parents have been preparing their children to do from day one?  The new found freedom and independence children gain at Camp Starlight gives them the chance to exercise the tools their parents have instilled in them and, further, develop self-confidence and learn reliance.

By learning to do more things on their own, self esteem booms and children feel more comfortable trying to new things as well as further engaging in familiar activities.  This type of development is a different sort of development children acquire in the classroom.  However, it can lead to higher performance levels when they return to the schoolyard after a summer at sleepaway camp.  By learning that putting themselves out there and making decisions for themselves while in a summer camp setting leads to success, children often become more assertive in the classroom as well.  Even more exciting is that parents may find their children taking more ownership of their personal areas and roles in the home life.  They just might clear their own dinner plates once in awhile without being asked!

When a child returns from summer camp, a parent certainly should not expect their “organized chaos” children to run back into their arms as “hospital bed corners” children.  But they can look forward to a child who has a boosted self-esteem and a greater sense of independence.  This change exhibits itself in different forms, whether it’s the highly sought after unsolicited plate clearing, the desire to sign-up for new clubs or teams, or even just less anxiety when heading off to a class full of new, undiscovered friends.  No matter the manifestation, the results of allowing your children to take the step toward individuality and self reliance that they will find at summer camp are surely going to supercede the few times during the summer that you let yourself wonder, “Does he know to floss before he brushes?!”


Now is the Time To Start Choosing a Summer Camp

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

The leaves are falling off the trees and the weather is starting to cool down, but it’s not too early to start thinking about sending your children to summer camp next summer.  There is certainly no shortage of American summer camps and finding the right one for your children is essential to their success there.  There’s a lot to think about, which makes now a great time to start thinking about what you want in a camp.

Traditional summer camps are a great way to introduce children to summer camp because they offer a broad and well-rounded experience.  Children still trying to find their niche in a sport or hobby find great success at these camps because they’re given opportunities throughout the summer to take part in many different types of activities.

The length of the summer camp you choose is also important.  Most overnight camps accept campers from the age of seven.  When considering camps, it’s key to consider your family’s lifestyle, your children’s other activities and commitments, and even your children themselves. Many embrace the traditional seven week experience because it removes the stress of trying to figure out how to keep children active and entertained during summer vacation.

Consider how far away from home you want your child to travel as well.  Some parents prefer to send their children to a summer camp within a few hours of home while others view summer camp as a way to introduce a global perspective to their children and send them abroad to attend summer camp.  This is particularly becoming a trend in Europe, where European parents are deciding that they’d like their children to experience traditional American summer camps.  However, increasingly, parents from all over the world are making this decision as well.  Many American parents find the amazing reputations, beautiful campuses, and the breathtaking scenery of Northeast Pennsylvania idyllic and send their children from as far away as California, Florida, and many other states.

The structure of a camp’s program should be given careful consideration as well.  As they grow older, most campers like to make decisions about their daily activities at camp, and Camp Starlight gives them the opportunity to do so.  However, we find that younger campers, especially those new to summer camp, prefer a more structured program with most of the decisions about their daily activities made for them.

Once you have decided what type of camp, length, location, and program are right for your child, you will likely find your search narrowed to a manageable number of camps.  Since you are reading this blog, you have found Camp Starlight’s website and are on the right track.  We also invite you to check out our Facebook page, and sign up to follow our Twitter feed.  By doing this now, you will give yourself plenty of time to watch, read, and listen.  If you are unfamiliar with camp, you will be pleasantly surprised at how active our summer camp community remains throughout the winter.  In fact, many Starlight families will tell you that camp never really ends for them—and that’s a good thing!

One of Camp Starlight’s Favorite Pastimes…

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”

With the World Series in progress, many baseball fans can be heard humming or singing this familiar tune.  All of the campers at Camp Starlight find themselves singing it at least one time throughout the summer when the Binghamton Mets and Scranton Yankees become the home teams of Camp Starlight.  Whether they are diehard baseball fans or those who simply love to indulge in stadium goodies like popcorn, peanuts, and hot dogs, there is nothing better for Camp Starlighters than walking to their seats while hearing the roar of the crowd, the excited voices of the sports commentators, and the crack of the ball hitting the bat under the bright stadium lights After a trip out of camp to see a game, our campers proudly sport souvenirs–baseball caps, team emblazoned pens or pencils with which to write home, and even sweet snacks with the team’s logo—with smiles on their faces!  We cannot wait until the 2012 summer camp season to get back to the ball park.


Create a Camp Atmosphere All Year Long

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Just because your children are no longer at camp doesn’t mean you can’t create a camp atmosphere in your home.  There are several things you can do to keep the camp spirit alive all year long.

This doesn’t have to be a radical flip of the switch that completely eliminates conveniences and luxuries from your lives.  In fact, such an act is probably not very realistic for many families.  But taking small steps to reduce your children’s reliance on things such as television, video games, and cell phones is a great way to remind them that don’t need them as much as they think they do.  Designate a day or two each week in which you won’t turn on the television or play video games.  Have a family game night instead.  Board games and card games are a great, light-hearted way to bring the entire family together for a few hours.  Turn off cell phones during meal times, before a designated time in the morning, and after a designated time in the evening.  Yes, with the invention of smart phones, we’re becoming increasingly reliant on these convenient little gadgets, but you may be surprised at just how much you enjoy the peace and quiet of a few hours without them each day…and, your family will also likely remember just how much they appreciate having a conversation with someone who is not looking at their cell phone or texting the entire time.

Keep supplies for creative bursts.  Arts & Crafts, Eco Science, and Nature don’t have to be activities restricted to the camp setting.  In fact, many of the projects that your children do at camp can quite easily be done at home, and they’re a great way to fill an afternoon or evening on which you’ve decided to have a break from television and video games.  There are books readily available that walk you step-by-step through such popular camp projects as tie-dying, candle making, beading, shrinky dinks, Mentos geysers, goo, and many more.  YouTube also has a host of videos that demonstrate kid friendly home science and nature experiments.  Keeping a closet or a chest of standard supplies for these types of projects will prevent you from having to make a shopping trip every time the kids want to have some summer camp style fun.

Have a “campfire”.  You might not have a backyard big enough (and there may be some local ordinances against this, even if you do), but consider having a backyard fire.  A patio fire pit, if you have one, is actually ideal.  An operable indoor fireplace works, too.  Make s’mores, tell stories, share memories.  This makes for a great evening to invite friends over because, as every camper will tell you, the more the merrier at a campfire.  If you live in an area in which weather permits, actually taking a weekend camping trip is always fun, too.

Start a garden (if you have a yard) or cook with your children once a week.  Gardening and cooking programs are popular at camp.  Even if you don’t have the space in your yard, herb gardens are easy to maintain and can be grown indoors.  Besides being enjoyable and fun, cooking is a valuable life skill for children to learn.  Let your children look up healthy recipes, talk about nutrition with them, and, most importantly, let them do the work in the kitchen.

Have regular family “out of the house” trips.  At camp, children regularly take “out of camp” trips to places such as local sporting events, the movies, or bowling… They look forward to these trips as a special treat and time to create some very special memories with their camp friends.  Why not make special memories like these as a family?

By making just a few (fun) adjustments, your entire family can enjoy the spirit of camp throughout the year, and it just might make those ten months of waiting a little more bearable for the kids!

Being a Camp Counselor Builds Skills for Your Future

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Most of hype you hear about why you should be a camp counselor involves fun, friendship, and sunshine!  However, it may come as a surprise that one of the best reasons to become a camp counselor is the impact it will have on your future career.   There are few better ways to spend your summers than to have an experience that not only offers you the opportunity to enhance your teaching and coaching skills but to have fun while getting paid!  College students who are education, sports administration, and recreation majors can easily build their resumes while earning college credit too.  Some of the things you don’t realize you will get out of camp…social development, professionalism, working in a group setting, planning on the spot, supervision, conflict resolution, and problem solving.  On top of all of that getting to work with children is so gratifying and getting to work in the fun outdoors during the summer is desirable too.  And did we mention FUN?

There are so many benefits to working at camp if you are a college student majoring in any of the aforementioned areas.  You naturally start to build leadership skills that are natural to a classroom or a team setting.  In your daily life at camp, the activity periods, bunk responsibilities, and general camper caretaking are all opportunities for developing future classroom management roles as well as teaching and coaching tactics. The responsibility you have for children at summer camp is a common thread to teaching and coaching.  But at camp you’re given a fun environment where you’re developing in all these ways while you are also helping to build the kids’ self-confidence, skill base, and further childhood development!