Archive for February, 2013

Everything I Need to Know in Life…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Robert Fulghum wrote a great poem entitled “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”  Since so many campers and staff members often speak of all of the valuable things they learn at camp, we thought we’d do a tribute to Fulghum’s original poem, as well as to all present and former campers and staff members, with our own camp take on the classic…

Everything I Need to Know in Life…I didn’t learn in a classroom or in a book.  I learned it at summer camp.  I learned….

  • I can make good decisions for myself
  • Living with other people requires compromise.
  • Learning to say ‘I’m sorry”
  • Making my bed every day
  • Clean up my own mess
  • Don’t overpack!
  • Don’t take things that are not yours.
  • Write letters. People still love getting mail.
  • Trying new things is fun, even if they don’t turn out to be something you’d want to do everyday.
  • Sometimes being able to laugh at yourself is the best medicine.
  • Everyone should take the time to act silly —even grownups.
  • It’s okay not to be the best at something as long as you try really hard.
  • Just because you don’t succeed the first time, that doesn’t mean you should give up.
  • It’s not so hard to smile and say ‘hi’ to someone you don’t know.
  • New friends are great!  Old friends are the best!
  • Traditions tie us to others forever, no matter where we are in the world or how much time has passed.
  • You have the power to choose whether you have a good day or a bad day.  And even if your day doesn’t get off to such a great start, it doesn’t have to end that way.
  • No one wins all of the time.  It’s what you take away from the game that matters.
  • Having a routine is a really good way to stay organized.
  • Words CAN be just as powerful as sticks and stones, so think about what you say to someone else before you say it.
  • Judging people by what they look like or what they wear won’t get you very far in life, and you might miss out on some great friendships because of it.
  • Cheering for others is just as fun as being cheered on.
  • Every great thing comes to an end.  But the memories of it last a lifetime.

The world would be an awesome place if everyone went to summer camp!

Find Your Way Home To Camp Starlight

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The last week of camp seems like it was yesterday.  That feeling of holding on to every moment and hoping that time would just stand still. As the Olympic scores are announced, you rushed the lake cheering, hugging and tears began flooding your eyes. You left your legacy with your bunk plaque this time just a simple phrase, so simple, but says so much. You watched the camp enter the banquet and in awe of the fantasy world you created full of the memories of the summer. The songs from the closing show and the beautiful stroll down to the lake.  The serenade of the alma mater and the candle flickering in the night. The vision of fireworks reflecting on the lake .  The trumpet echoing taps from the mountains.  And of course, that moment when together we all looked up to the sky and David’s words that finally had found a special meaning …”may the stars of Camp Starlight keep you warm throughout the winter and lead you back to us next summer.”

As the buses rolled away that summer and you began the journey back down the camp road, you promised yourself that you would return to Starlight some day.  There are so many things that draw you back: reuniting with friends, sharing your own experience with other campers, taking the role of a coach or teacher, the thrill of being a General or Sing Leader, taking on a leadership role of an ADL, Division Leader or one day a Head Counselor, a chance to get in the ring and wrestle in slushies, shaving your legs for Ms. Starlight, being in the rec hall and singing friends and the alma mater.  It is not hard to imagine at all.

Oh, and then life began to get complicated. Applying to college,  going to college, chosing a major, the pressure of internships and the like. And you start to wonder if that promise you made to yourself will ever come true to go back to Camp again.  But before you let the door close on what has been such an important part of your life, don’t believe that the “real world” doesn’t value the experience of working at a summer camp.  Camp Starlight provides a continuous opportunity to grow, educate yourself and develop a social network that will help you further your relationships both professionally and personally.

And opportunities are abound.  Camp is like a mini city.  The experience of working with children will be to learn about teaching and child care. Athletic learning to teach, coach, organize and scheduling are great skills to help with a career in sports management or teaching.  Our health center staffed with highly skilled nurses and doctors many of whom have worked in ER, Surgery, Pediatrics, provides a great resource for someone considering to go to med school or nursing.  Our active social media site provides is a great place to publish a blog, photograph or learn the ins and outs of building a social media community. A special events department is like no other to learn about event planning.  A complete infrastructure with its own sewage plant, dam, generators that would engineer.  Our theater has been a true starting point  for aspiring actors, writers, stage managers, producers and musicians. Thinking of becoming an aeronautical engineer, well maybe we can’t help you, although you never know what we have in store for the Olympic break. The opportunities are as endless as are the mountains in Pennsylvania.

So if your heart belongs at Starlight this summer, give us a call and let us see if we can help you find your way home.

David and Allison

What Are the Bunks Like?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

What are the living arrangements?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from prospective parents.  Of course, we’ve all seen enough Hollywood interpretations to imagine our children living in everything from tents with cots to luxury facilities complete with common rooms furnished with ping pong tables and fluffy sofas.  The reality at Camp Starlight is somewhat simple, and  in this blog we’re going to try to answer some of the most common questions that we receive about camp living facilities.

What are the cabins/bunks like?
Most cabins or bunks house 8-12 campers plus a couple of counselors in a single room for sleeping and a separate bathroom and shower area.  Some cabins or bunks may have separate areas with cubbies for storing clothing and personal belongings. The beds may actually be traditional bunk beds (one stacked on top of the other) or they may be single beds lined next to each other and separate by cubby stands.

What’s the difference between a cabin and a bunk?
Essentially, nothing.  It’s simply a matter of each camp’s preference in whether to call its living facilities cabins or bunks.  This may or may not be related to the particular region in which a camp in located.  In some areas “cabin” may be the more common term while in others, camps are more likely to call them “bunks.”

Where do campers put their things?
Whether it’s next to the beds or in a separate area, camp cabins and bunks have cubby areas in which children can place their things.  Although there is ample cubby space for everything on the camp’s packing list, it’s important to keep in mind when packing that there isn’t a lot of extra storage in bunks or cabins.  So it’s a good idea to contact the camp before giving into temptation and tucking a lot of extra items in your camp trunk.

Are the toilet and shower facilities inside the bunk, and what are they like?
Although some summer camps do have community shower houses shared by several bunks, all of Camp Starlight bunks have ensuite bathroom facilities inside that are shared only by those living in each individual cabin or bunk. They typically have a two showers, two sinks as well as two toilets and hot water.

Additionally, all bunks feature porches or sitting areas outside and drying racks for beach towels, since waterfront activities are a prominent part of summer camp.  While cabins and bunks do not feature air conditioning, there are plenty of screened windows that allow air to pass through, which works well in mountainous locations where the air tends to be a few degrees cooler anyway.

So there you have it, what a bunk is like at Camp Starlight.

Learning to Lose at Camp

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Whether it’s a school spelling bee or a soccer game, as parents we want to see our children win not just to experience the joy of seeing them excel but because we know that they want to win.  Being raised in a competitive culture naturally makes us all want to be number one.  Children equate being number one with being the best.  However, as grownups we know that it’s impossible to win all of the time and that winning doesn’t necessarily mean being the best so much as being the best on that particular day.  The idea that losing, in reality, is closer to not winning in that it’s possible to “lose” yet gain something valuable from a contest or competition is one of the most difficult concepts for children to embrace.  Camp is a place where not only is this point driven home daily, but it’s a lesson learned at camp in a fun, constructive environment.

The pressure of anxious parents and coaches on the sidelines of sports competitions combined with the knowledge that school performance affects everything from what kind of classes they can take, extracurricular activities in which they can participate, and what colleges they will be  attend place a great deal of emphasis on children’s performance.  The ability for children to be able to process that good can come from not winning is clouded because the end goal is the emphasis.  The underlying message that children sometimes inadvertently receive as a result is that they will be valued or loved less if they lose.  Camp, on the other hand, emphasizes process and embraces novice.  One of the primary messages conveyed to campers is that winning is a great thing at camp, but it’s not everything.   Improving skills, finding activities one really loves, having fun and making friends are valuable attributes at camp.  In such an environment, winning
takes on less prominence.  Children are less likely to feel less valuable as campers for losing.

Camp leaders and staff work very hard throughout the summer to make sure this atmosphere is maintained. Children are encouraged for performance, accomplishment, and attitude regardless of being winners or losers in a contest.  Many special camp  games or competitions are also structured in a way that encourages children to work together in order to win and provide excellent opportunities for those children who may not be excellent athletes or extreme intellectuals to have their moments to shine.

Learning how to “not win” at camp makes it much easier for children to put “not winning” at home into proper perspective!

Camp Starlight on Your Resume

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In a society where college students are told they surely must land that coveted internship to ever secure a job after they graduate, it posts a challenge for summer camps around the country to retain experienced staff after their college years are over. The misconception of adding “Summer Camp Counselor” to a resume as not a serious prior job experience is unfortunate and something that has to change! At Starlight we are working to foster an environment where our staff can be proud to list being a “Camp Starlight Staff” on their resume with some significant and meaningful skills to back it up.

Some of the aspects of the job are obvious. As a member of Camp Starlight Staff, counselors are going to learn responsibility. Staff are going to learn (quickly) how to multi-task. Most importantly, developing strong leadership skills and the know-how and patience to work with all different people from very different backgrounds is an invaluable experience found in a summer spent at Starlight. Counselors  hone organizational skills and learn how to work in a demanding and fast-paced environment. Working in such a close -knit community staff members realize what it is like to work as a team, be a good co-worker and a great role model. The thing our team takes from a summer at camp that far surpasses closing day is the experience of self examination and discovery. During the summer at Starlight, we facilitate this and help our staff find the things they enjoy and where he or she excels.  This helps build confidence which will last a lifetime.

Anyone considering the exciting prospect of joining us for a summer at Camp Starlight can feel certain that the summer will come with an abundance of experiences that will prove useful for years to come in whatever future career path he or she should take.  It’s important to remember  being in a bunk and responsible for 10 children requires patience, energy, empathy and selflessness. All of these skills can be further discussed in an interview, and it becomes clear that skills learned at Camp Starlight will transfer well into almost any industry or job. Everyday spent at camp provides opportunity and valuable connections for success in the future.

Networking, for example, is a natural thing that occurs at camp. Not only do staff have a team of people to learn from, but just like in recent blogs discussing Starlighters around the world, camp is a culture that is shared by many. Many employers understand the role of the counselor and will appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication it takes to work at a summer camp.  Talking about experiences during a future interview process,  potential employers are bound to be impressed with the excitement Starlight counselors have about a job. With all of the areas we have in camp ranging from programming and athletics, to the tours and the special events, our experienced key staff serve as mentors for development of our counselors life and career goals.  Camp Starlight provides the ability to try a wide range of things and achieve both personal and professional goals all the while having a fantastic time working with great kids and making lifetime friends!

Alyson Lee

Making Decisions at Camp

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

If your child regularly spends a half hour in the cereal aisle of the supermarket choosing his breakfast cereal or takes the better part of a day debating whether he wants to go to the movies or have a play date with a friend, there is a somewhat underrated and under appreciated aspect of sending your child to summer camp that you may want to consider.  Camp helps children learn how to make decisions.

For many campers, sleepaway camp is their first real experience away from their parents. They find themselves faced with decisions every day, some of which are traditionally made by their parents.  Camps, for instance, often offer campers several different dining options each meals.  Without their parents there to tell them to eat salad because they don’t like tuna or pasta, children find themselves faced with the decision about what to eat.  This sounds like a small thing, and in the scheme of larger things, perhaps it is.  However, it’s not an exercise without long-term benefit.  Once children understand the decision is theirs, they tend to get adventurous.  As a result, many will try—and be surprised to realize they like—foods that they might not have tried at home if steered toward safer choices by us parents who, let’s face it, sometimes choose the path of least resistance if for no other reason than to maintain peace.  The sense of adventure gained also carries over into their daily activities.

Most camps programs are designed around camper choice.  While the level of choice varies from camp to camp with some giving campers exclusive control of their daily schedules while others plan part of the day and allow campers to choose a couple or a few activities, campers are still faced everyday with choosing at least some of their daily activities.  Making such decisions forces campers to consider whether it’s better to stick to a tried and true activity that they love or try something new.  While some campers are inevitably more adventurous than others, the ability to make decisions without the pressure of peers or parents and in the open, accepting environment of camp at which being adventurous is not only accepted but encouraged, children learn to choose what they want rather than what they feel that others want for them.  Again, this may seem like a relatively small accomplishment in the larger scheme of growing up, but many books about success emphasize that the children who grow up to become the most successful adults learned early to understand what they wanted and how to make the choices in life that would help them achieve their goals.  Additionally, when children know what they want, they’re able to be more assertive in pursuing goals and voicing when they’re unhappy.

So if you’re tired of perusing the aisles for the second, third, and fourth time while your child tries to decide between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios or are frustrated about not being able to make evening plans because your child can’t decide what he wants to do, consider sending him to summer camp where he can get a crash course on learning to make decisions on a daily basis.

Spreading the Word

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Camp Starlight is known for our fabulous staff. We hire mature, experienced and fun-loving individuals who are looking to make a difference. Over the years our recruiting methods may have changed but our mission to find the best staff stays the same. We are so lucky to have a great returning staff to use as a resource and help us to navigate the never ending changing ways to “get the word out”.

We love meeting our staff in person and we love to travel too. We combine the two and, this year, we will be making our way around the country to visit 18 college campuses and 2 countries overseas.  Once there, we attend awesome job fairs and career expos and personally meet hundreds of great potential counselors. After months of planning with our veteran staff just where our recruiting tour will take us, we get on the road to find the best staff in camping. We are always happy to hear from our prospective new staff members that they have heard about Camp Starlight from our veteran staff. We hear from new applicants that they saw things like countdowns, mini reunions, and international camp t-shirt days, all of which made them curious about camp. Our staff and alumni are constantly talking about Starlight.  Their camp experiences and their excitement has attracted many of their friends to apply!

Once we hire a staff member they are quickly embraced by veteran and other new staff members, and friendships are often formed before the summer even begins.The returning staff are so helpful in answering questions about the coming summer, welcoming new staff to the Starlight family.  They truly create the buzz for June! Having the veteran counselors reach out to their new co-workers, we have been told,is incredibly useful for a new counselor and makes them feel as if they are already part of the family before they arrive. As it is February, here at Starlight, we are packed and ready to meet the best of the best for 2013!

Having the Time of Your LIFE – Camp Starlight Summer of 2012 Reunion

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

It was a great afternoon of celebration, fun, and reminiscence this past weekend as all of our campers reunited as a camp family for our Summer of 2012 reunion. LIFE was definitely the place to be for our fellow Starlighters on the cold, wintery day!

Everyone present was surely warmed by the energy and excitement around the room while bunkmates, camp brothers and sisters, and friends all came together for a day of celebration. We were also excited to see some of our veteran staff come by to catch up with the kids and chat with each other about life since camp.

The Starlight Flag waved in the air throughout the afternoon to remind everyone of the spirit and tradition of Starlight that brings us all together. Our campers were definitely feeling the spirit and having an awesome time enjoying all LIFE had to offer! We saw campers test their skills they learned last summer on our ropes course by taking a turn on the rock-climbing wall. We had a flashback of the now famous Man Cave of 2012 as campers tested their luck with array of arcade games. And of course, they also enjoyed some “free play” hanging out and catching up with friends in the lounge.

After a showing of the 2012 video yearbook, it was a mutual feeling that everyone could not wait until 2013! We can assure you that we are just as excited as our campers and staff for our return to the 18461 in a few short months. We have a ton of new and exciting things planned for this year to make this year better than ever! It was an amazing day to remember the times of 2012, and to get us pumped up for the year to come!

Until then, make sure you are up-to-date on what’s happening with Camp Starlight! You can be in on all the excitement and info by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Camp Mom

Friday, February 1st, 2013

One of the most essential roles held in a summer at Camp Starlight is that of the Camp Mom. The Camp Mom is always alert and sensitive to the needs of Starlighters in their everyday routines. Her chief role is to pay that extra special bit of attention known as mother love to our junior campers, specifically our Junior Boys. She checks that the campers are clean and keeping up personal hygiene. She makes sure everyone is lathered up in their sunscreen before heading off to a day of fun in the sun, and she is always ready with her clippers to trim those fingernails when they need it!

Our staff at Camp Starlight is ever vigilant to the safety and well-being of campers, but as we all know, there are just some things that a mother does best. The Camp Mom has the freedom and flexibility to be where she is needed whenever that is. She drops into the bunks, stops by at activity periods, and of course does her daily rounds at meals to make sure everyone is having a proper meal. Counselors are aware and working to make sure the kids are happy and healthy, but only a mom can really go behind and make sure everything is just right. As important as these roles are, the position also steps outside of the everyday practical check-ups and really allows the Camp Mom and the campers to develop a caring relationship through the summer.

In addition to watching the physical welfare of the kids, a Camp Mom also takes on the role of a nurturing supporter. Campers realize she is there for them to talk to, to wish each of them sweet dreams at night, and to help encourage their independence and growth during their summer at camp. For all of these reasons, it is obvious why the Camp Mom is such an integral part of our youngest campers’ summers. All of our previous Camp Moms have shared their enjoyment of being mother to the many kids they met over the summer and being able to care for them during their time away from home. It is also a common feeling that a summer at Camp Starlight as the Camp Mom brought them a wonderfully warm experience personally because of becoming a part of the amazing people known as the Starlight Family!