Archive for January, 2013

Who is Watching Your Children? A Look at Camp Staff and Leadership

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

If you submit prospective babysitters through background and reference checks just for a date night with your spouse or significant other, then you probably have an extreme interest in just who will be taking care of your children at summer camp.  Thanks in part to movies and television, many parents have images of young, barely out of high school teenagers filling counselor roles.  However, the truth is that camps conduct searches for months to locate and fill leadership and key staff roles with mature, knowledgeable professionals, many of whom work with children in some capacity year round.

Even though camp is still six months away, chances are that your child’s summer camp (or prospective summer camp) has already kicked its recruiting season into high gear.  To find counselors, many camps traverse college campuses across the country searching for college students and recent grads who are pursuing careers in education, social work, youth athletics, or other fields related to working with children.  In order to avoid staff members that are too immature—or mature—the target demographic for counselors is typically between 20-25, although some camps will vary from this in certain scenarios or for special needs.  A successful camp counselor works 24/7 and must be mature enough to make split second decisions that concern the welfare and well -being of children.  Although counselor staffs tend to have relatively high turnover rates from year to year because college students complete college and move on to full time jobs that they cannot leave for an entire summer, leadership staff tends to return more regularly.

Camp leadership is often comprised of seasoned teachers and coaches who have been involved with summer camp in some capacity for several years or even decades.  Some of them grew up as campers and worked their way into leadership positions beginning as counselor assistants or counselors.  Others began as counselors and loved the experience so much that they have returned from year to year.  Still others are hired directly into their leadership roles after extensive searches by camps to find the best candidate for the role.  However their camp experience began, one thing that all camp leaders have in common is that they not only have extensive experience working with children, but thorough knowledge of the intricacies and behind the scenes goings on of summer camp.

Aside from leadership staff, other mature individuals are employed to staff health and dining facilities as well as offices.  In fact, parents are sometimes surprised to learn that so many mature, experienced professionals spend their summers at sleepaway camp.  But, for many, the experience, as it is for the children, is beyond compare.  Those who return each year will tell you that they wouldn’t consider spending their summers anyplace else.  They love what they do, they love their campers, and they love their camps!  How many traditional jobs can boast such high morale and collective years of experience?

Camp Starlight Bucket List

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Camp is a place filled with so many amazing and fun things to do. While most of the things you do at camp are structured, you still have so much you can do on your own to create memories that will last a lifetime. This Starlight Bucket List has been created so you get the most out of your experience at camp.

1.      Pass your Swim Test

2.      Dive to the bottom of the lake and touch the sand

3.      Go on the water trampoline

4.      Learn how to water ski

5.      Paddle Board

6.      Go down the Zip line

7.      Learn a new sport

8.      Get a bull’s-eye in archery

9.      Join a Wayne County Team

10.  Score in a Wayne County Game

11.  Sit in the toilet seat at Oz

12.  Ride all the roller coasters at Dorney

13.  Get up and shake your napkin

14.  Skip around the pole

15.  Raise the flag

16.  Make an announcement on the PA

17.  Lose your voice

18.  Wear a crazy outfit for no apparent reason

19.  Appear in the Week in Review

20.  Participate in a Conga line through the Dining Hall during a meal

21.  Wear a Fedora on Friday

22.  Participate in services

23.  Win Spirit of Starlight

24.  Land a spot in the finals of MTV Night

25.  Earn a Square Dancing Bracelet

26.  Run the Slope for Lope

27.  Wake up at reveille for Polar Bear Club

28.  Win Honor Bunk

29.  Become an Eagle/Mench

30.  Rush the Lake

31.  Find your favorite spot on camp

32.  Have a Slush Puppy with every flavor mixed in

33.  Eat a burger at cookout with everything on it (including watermelon)

34.  Start a new tradition

35.  Create a song or cheer about everyone in your bunk, and then sing it every year during Challenge Week

36.  Start a cheer

37. Win a Wayne County Championship

38.  Make friends with people outside of your bunk

39.  Make friends with people outside of your division

40.  Be an Olympic Captain

41.  Participate in Rope Burn

42.  Write an Alma Mater

43.  Find the hatchet

44.  Win Olympics

45.  Win Sing

46.  Be accused of something in Heavenly Court

47.  Make your camp siblings a gift in arts and crafts

48.  Watch the sunset over the lake

49.  See a shooting star

50.  Make friendships that will last a lifetime

What’s on your bucket list? Send us an email at and let us know.  We may publish it in a future blog…Hey, you can even add that to the list… write a blog for Camp Starlight….


A Summer Camp Daily Food Schedule

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

“What about food?” This is undeniably one of the biggest questions posed to summer camp directors from prospective parents who not only want to know what their children will be fed during the summer, but when and how. Although serving styles vary—some camps eat “family style” while others serve buffet style–a day of food is fairly similar from camp to camp and an important aspect of the daily camp schedule. So we have decided to dedicate an entire blog to a typical camp eating schedule.

Shortly after waking up in the morning, campers head off to breakfast. Aside from a hot entrée choice such as eggs, pancakes, french toast or oatmeal, several cold staples like cereal, bagels, fruit, and yogurt are also available to ensure that campers have plenty of fuel for morning activities.

Around mid-day, everyone takes a break from the fun in order to eat lunch, which is usually the same fare they might expect to eat for lunch at home like pizza, macaroni and cheese, or sandwiches. A soup and/or salad bar is also typically available.

Many camps also offer fruit or a snack in the late morning or afternoon, to keep campers energized throughout the day.  After a full day of adventure, campers need to re-fuel, and dinner fare appropriately reflects that. As with lunch, the choices are typical of what they might expect to eat at their evening meal at home such as pasta, meat and potatoes, tacos, etc. A large salad bar is also typically available at dinner, and dessert is served as well. Before going to bed, children often get a snack or a chance to go to their camp’s canteen for a special treat.

In addition to the primary meal and snack schedule, throughout the day, children may enjoy other snacks or treats while participating in their camp’s cooking program, during a bunk or cabin mate’s birthday celebration, or as part of a special event.

It should also put parents’ minds at ease knowing that when constructing their menus, many camps purposely design meal combinations that quickly replenish energy and/or consult nutritionists. Food allergies are also typically addressed. Many sleepaway camps do not serve any tree nut products and those that do take great strides to insure that campers with allergies do not come into contact with them. Some make soy milk available to those with lactose intolerance and/or provide special gluten free bread to those with wheat allergies.

Camp meal schedules are also extremely important to the daily camp schedule because they help campers and staff mark time throughout the day. Since meals and snacks are served consistently at regular times, they contribute heavily to summer camp routines and help campers define their expectations.

Camp Starlight Reunions–Warming Our Hearts Even in the Cold Days of Winter

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

In the cold of winter, it’s sometimes hard to conjure up those warm and sunny feelings of the days on the beautiful grounds of Camp Starlight. Growing up as a camper at Camp Starlight, this time of year would always bring with it a special excitement for me and my camp friends. Camp Starlight Reunion was almost here! With the New Year right, I realized that before I knew it, I would be back with my summer family!

There is something about spending time with the most amazing people you know that makes time stop. How do seven short weeks seem like a lifetime, almost the same way that an afternoon in cold January seems like forever? There is always such an amazing buildup to the reunion, including planning sleepovers with your bunkmates, and getting back in the camp mode.

My bunkmates and I had traditions starting from our first pre-camp reunion sleepover in 2001. We would sleep at my house and in the morning, my dad would make us French toast. It was a new tradition that added to our endless list of summer traditions. We would always reflect on the past summer, and make plans for the summer to come. There is nothing better than being with your camp friends. The reunions every January were just a taste of the summer to come, and who doesn’t love getting some new, amazing Starlight  gear at the end of the day!The idea of our winter lives being shared summer family  is exciting, and when you are with camp friends, it always feels right!

Julia W.


Monday, January 14th, 2013

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The Subtle Pleasures of Summer Camp

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Have you noticed subtle pleasant but odd changes since your children returned from summer camp?  Have you peeked into your son’s room and noticed that he made his bed?  Were you tempted to take your daughter’s temperature the other night because she volunteered to clean up her room?  Maybe they just seem calmer or are better about sticking to routines about which you went hoarse more than once preaching to them before you put them on that bus or plane headed to their favorite summer zip code.  Perhaps they’re better about saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ or spend less time all out at war with each other over little things like the remote control and whether they’re going to watch The Voice or Modern Family.  Did they really mature that much at summer camp?

Not that you’re complaining.  It’s a nice, unexpected bonus.  When you initially enrolled them for camp, you were thinking it would be good for them to spend their summer working on arts and crafts projects, learning how to sail, going swimming, doing the silly things that kids do at camp, and playing sports instead of using up your entire cell phone data plan during twelve hour texting marathons or playing the Kinect so much that you can no longer tell whether you’re watching a video game or an actual television program.  You thought, ‘Maybe they’ll even make a few new friends.’  But, oddly, it’s the smaller things they seem to be bringing away from their summer camp experiences that you find yourself enjoying the most.

Sure, you read all about the benefits of sending children to summer camp before you decided to send them.  But you didn’t allow yourself to actually have expectations that your children would come home friendlier, more dutiful, more flexible, able to manage their time better, and generally happier–in short, more mature. Those are the special changes that you enjoy seeing and that make summer camp that much more valuable your eyes.

Songs of Summer

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

What do Bruce Springsteen, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Katy Perry, Neon Trees, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Flo-Rida all have in common? Well, in the outside world all of them are musicians.  But that’s about the only thing collective about them. This past summer, however, each musician had what we call a “Song of the Summer.”

These Camp Starlight Songs of Summer are the songs that you hear on the radio in the car, during a television commercial, or simply shuffling through you iPod. Once the music starts, wherever you are, you’re instantly taken back to the great memories of camp. You might be in the car driving to school, sitting in class, or hanging out with friends.  Wherever you might be, you’re instantly transported back to those defining moments of camp.

It could be the moment when you stepped off the bus and heard One Direction, or every time you sat down for a meal in the dining room everyone went crazy for “Starships” (even if it wasn’t your song).  It could even be the songs you heard during clean up or heard in the Camp Starlight Week in Review slideshow.  We love to hear our favorite tunes, over and over again.

Music has such a presence at camp that some songs are engraved in our camp memories.  How can we forget “We Take Care of Our Own” and its existence as not only a song of the summer, but the theme for 2012? Every year, we have an amazing time listening, singing, and dancing to the “Songs of the Summer” and it’s truly an awesome feeling when you hear certain songs and they take you back to camp. The memories instantly come back like a flash back and we recall how much fun we had in the Summer of 2012!

What will be the Camp Starlight songs of the summer for 2013?