Archive for January, 2015

Unplugged at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 26th, 2015

10532376_10152221993496960_1396692894280105569_nIf your child is like most, they “tweet” their way through breakfast, text at lunch, “like” and “comment” all day long, Snap Chat through dinner, post selfies to Instagram around bedtime and wake up and do it all again the next day. No wonder they stay up to late and want to sleep until noon, they’re busy!

Research has shown kids spend up to 7.5 hours A DAY with their eyes glued to a screen and their fingers frantically pecking away at keyboards. Kids growing up in an age of such accessible and socially acceptable technology can sometimes get lost in the sea of text messages and status updates. Social media can be a hunting ground for bullies, as it is easy to become detached from empathy and consequences when you’re behind a screen. Kids do and say things they would not normally do or say when they’re plugged in, and that can be detrimental to their actual social development. When kids only speak their mind when they are anonymous, or when they try to be someone they aren’t to impress others, they are lacking opportunities to develop self-confidence and character. They may have 1000 “friends” on social media, but are slowly loosing the ability to walk up to someone and shake their hand, introduce themselves, or settle conflict in a responsible and socially acceptable way. Social media isn’t bad in itself, but when we let it take the place of our child’s actual social development, we are doing them a huge disservice.

Which is why, at Camp Starlight, we’re unplugged. Campers leave their cellphones at home, and enjoy a summer without texting, emailing or using social media. At first, potential campers many find this kind of “torture” unbearable, but as they dive deep into the activities that the camp has to offer, they will reevaluate their role online. They will interact with others in a meaningful, personal and relational way. They will improve their written communication skills by writing letters back home to loved ones, and feel the excitement of receiving a handwritten note from people back home, a feeling you just don’t get when you check your inbox. Without a phone in their back pocket to tempt them, they will be able to really focus and listen to what other campers are saying. In turn, when they are sharing a story or experience, they will not be looking out into a crowd of people staring down onto a screen. Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 12.44.25 PM

Campers who arrive shy and a little reserved will leave with a newfound confidence, based on the things accomplished during their stay. They will be able to look back on the summer when they learned to swim, conquered their stage fright, made new friends or discovered their love of magic and apply that self-confidence into their life back home. They will no longer need to hide behind a screen in order to communicate with their peers or feel heard.

As a parent, you can find comfort in the fact that while your child is away, they will be learning valuable life skills that don’t involve how many words they can text a minute, or how many “likes” they can get on their Instagram picture. The skills they learned while they are unplugged will stay with them for a lifetime, and that is better than being retweeted by a celebrity.

Healthy at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 19th, 2015

10383035_10152267869246960_185213069933294672_nWhen you combine the ease and affordability of fast food with the ability to literally record days worth of TV to be accessed at any time, your result is kids who are eating junk while watching junk. They are spending more time in front of a screen than they are playing outside. Sometimes the only body part getting a workout is their thumbs from playing video games or their index finger from pointing and clicking all over a computer screen for hours at a time. Lack of exercise and accessibility to unhealthy foods is what has caused childhood obesity to skyrocket in the last 30 years.

According to the Center of Disease Control, more than a third of kids and teenagers were overweight or obese in 2012. The physical risks of childhood obesity are endless; joint problems, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and it leaves them vulnerable to various types of cancers as they get older. Not only can early obesity lead to a lifetime of bad habits that are very hard to break, but the effects on a child’s already very fragile self esteem and body image are devastating. Children who are overweight and self-conscious are less likely to participate in team events or sports, try out for a new sport or activity, or be proactive in making new friends. This is can be a lonely and scary time for kids and teens, and it is absolutely preventable.

At Camp Starlight, we take the health of each camper very seriously. We have been known to sneak exercise into the daily lives of campers by giving it a new name: FUN. We’ve also found a top secret, patented way to keep campers from eating unhealthy foods all the time: We don’t give them access to calorie filled foods all throughout the day. It’s novel concept, we’re very aware.

The menu at Camp Starlight varies by the day. There is always fruit available, and a salad bar is always an option at lunch and dinner. Piping hot soups, vegetarian options and plenty of healthy options are always available. Whether your child needs a menu that is gluten, dairy, soy, or nut free, or they have other specific food allergies, a menu of delicious options can be created for them so they can enjoy everything camp has to offer with a full belly and no annoying or even worse, life threatening allergic reactions. Parents are encouraged to contact the specific camp your child is attending in order to discuss his/her dietary restrictions.Day 2 3

Even if campers do splurge on mac and cheese, shaved steak sandwiches or get creative at the pasta bar, they will easily work off all of those delicious calories in the endless physical activities the camp has to offer. A game of flag football, an afternoon of kayaking (talk about an arm work out!) an early morning mountain biking adventure, an impromptu basketball game vs. the neighboring cabin or an hour dancing away in a fitness class are just a few ways campers can keep their heart rates up while having fun with new friends. Exercise disguised as fun means campers stay active all the time! When campers are so busy running (sometimes literally) from activity to activity, they don’t have time to mindlessly munch on snacks.

Camp Starlight does not offer soda as a daily drink choice, which is a major culprit in the childhood obesity epidemic in our country. Plenty of water keeps campers hydrated as they tackle another day of go, go go!

Although Camp Starlight is not specifically targeted towards weight loss, it is a common benefit that occurs naturally when campers spend the summer here. If weight loss is not a concern for your child, they will still benefit tremendously from the constant activity and plenty of healthy food options provided at camp.

Camp Starlight wants the best for each camper on every level, including their physical health, which is why we are focused on instilling positive attitude towards healthy decisions. A mindset focused on healthy food choices and staying active is an excellent core value to instill in children, and could literally save their lives. By encouraging them to eat right and exercise daily, they are creating habits that will benefit them as they grow, and allow them to live long and healthy lives.


Creativity at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 12th, 2015

A wise old man named Albert with crazy hair and a mustache once said “Creativity is contagious; pass it on”

10806209_10152478498061960_8407983869405076248_nAt Camp Starlight, we are serious about creativity, and are focused on following the advice of Mr. Einstein by passing the love and excitement of creativity onto every camper that arrives here. By giving campers an opportunity to express themselves through art, music, dance and theatre, we are uncovering hidden talents and gifts that some campers had no idea that they had. In a world where kids are trying so hard to be “cool” they can quickly lose their sense of wonder and imagination, and their creative side can be tragically stunted. These days, we see younger and younger children trading coloring books for Ipads, or choosing to create an Instagram account over creating a dance in the living room. What a plain, boring world we would live in if the imaginations and creativity of our children is not encouraged and embraced!

At Camp Starlight, we give campers a wide range of activities and options to explore their inner artist. Campers can try their hand at watercolors or drawing, ceramics or comic book illustration. For those who have already discovered their creative strengths, these activities can help improve their skill and allow them to spend time doing something that they love. For campers who feel that they’ve never been good at a particular art form, this is a safe place to try without fear of failure or embarrassment. It is also great for their self-esteem to try something new and succeed. There are many other forms of creative expression, such as hip-hop, jazz or modern dance. These options combine music, physical movement and artistic expression, and allow campers to conquer stage fright by preforming in front of other people. Class clowns may find a creative outlet by trying improv and comedy, while the more techy, behind the scenes kids will enjoy working in lighting, stage make-up and stage construction and design. Each of these inner-arts activities combines the unique, personal and intimate aspects of creative arts, while also encouraging campers to work together as a team and as a support system for each other.

Future rappers or singers of America can get an idea of how the music industry works by participating in music production or getting involved in the radio station. Regardless of how each camper expresses themselves, there is a creative outlet on site for them to flourish in. Kids who are encouraged to express their creativity tend to preform better in more structured and formal environments, like the classroom. Creativity also improves a child’s problem solving skills, and builds confidence to explore new and innovative ideas.

When a camper makes something from nothing, whether is a ceramic mug, a poem or a new dance, they gain self-confidence and feel a sense of empowerment that is hard to find anywhere else. It is possible that the strengths and gifts they discover within themselves at camp can launch them into a hobby or even a profession that they enjoy for the rest of their lives. They also learn how to appreciate the unique creativity in other people, which results in more accepting, well rounded and open minded individuals, which we can all agree that the world needs more of.

Discovering, understanding, and expressing creativity does wonders for the growing character and sense of self in a young camper. When campers realize that it is cool to be creative and expressive, a whole world of opportunities is open to them. We can only hope that once campers tap into their own creative side, they pass it along to their friends and peers in the outside world, causing a chain reaction of imagination, artistic expression and creativity; just as good ‘ol Albert suggested.

Things Which Are Quintessentially Summer Camp

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Summer camp is a fun and exciting experience and time simply flies by. There are several things and activities to do, which makes it impossible not to miss some of them. However, it doesn’t matter how chaotic, busy, or crazy things get, there are a few things that will always remind you about camp:

1.    Arts & Crafts

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.07.09 AMAccording to the American Camp Association (ACA), Arts and Crafts is amongst the five most popular activities at summer camp, and why wouldn’t it? Kids simply love spending a part of their day in a place filled with glitter, paint, scissors, beads, and other craft items. With arts and craft, the possibilities are endless, as the atmosphere not only gives campers the opportunity to relax, reflect, use their creative side and time to socialize with fellow campers and friends.

2.    Campfires

A campfire is a mainstay at every camp. The activities, songs and traditions differ from camp to camp. However, one thing remains consistent and that’s the sacred relevance the campfire holds. The fire symbolizes camp life, and the odor of burning wood serves as a reminder of picturesque settings where camps are situated.

3.    Sing Alongs

Karaoke may be a popular activity for a get-together, but, when it comes to summer camps, there is nothing more melodious than the whole camp singing tunes together. The sing-along are not just about singing songs together, it’s a way of bringing each and everyone together to celebrate the thing which has brought everybody together as one, and that thing is camp.

4.    S’mores

A summer is incomplete without s’mores. And besides, it’s quite hard to resist the pleasure of melted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two crackers. Just one bite is enough to bring instant memories of camp.

5.    Bunks

Now, you might get thinking that what’s so special about bunks. Well, they are much more than places where counselors and campers sleep. It’s where everyone becomes families, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.

6.    Bugle Calls

Bugle Calls guide campers through their day at camp. It doesn’t matter if they are bells or bugles only one sound is enough for campers to know what they have to do. Whether it’s showing up for waterskiing, tennis, or even closing the lights at nighttime, these sounds will let campers know about everything.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.06.33 AM

7.    Crazy Wardrobe Preferences

Camp is perhaps the only place where you will get complemented for wearing bright colors, body paint, hats, wigs and other funny clothing to a camp function. Funny isn’t it? But, it’s an experience that will always bring back good memories.