Posts Tagged ‘21st century skills’

Camp: The Ultimate Career Prep

Monday, January 8th, 2018

The last thing kids are thinking about as they are running, dancing, jumping, singing, and playing at camp is what they want to be when they grow up. But counselors and staff at Camp Starlight know that the things campers experience and learn during this time in their lives can directly impact the adults that they become. Spending a summer at camp fosters valuable like skills in campers that can prepare them to enter the professional world.

Teamwork

Even if campers end up owning their own business or going the entrepreneurial route, they will still need to know how to work well with others. This is why learning to play well with others is such a valuable skill. Counselors lead by example and demonstrate practical communication skills, conflict management, compromise, listening skills and working together. Many camp activities require campers to work together in order to be successful. Campers learn to trust and encourage each other. Campers who feel confident working with others at camp build a solid foundation for teamwork in the workplace.

Problem Solving

One of the biggest characteristics employers look when they are hiring is problem solving. They want to be sure the person they hire can not only identify a problem, but also figure out a solution, often without needing much guidance or direction. Campers are given multiple opportunities throughout the summer to identify obstacles and find a solution. Whether they are solving a problem with a friend or learning a new athletic skill, problem solving happens all day at camp and is a valuable life skill for campers to build upon.

Perseverance

Nobody likes a quitter. In the workplace, employers expect employees to give their job their all, and not to give up when it gets hard. Pushing through obstacles and preserving through a difficult task is crucial for workplace efficiency. Campers are encouraged to stick with difficult tasks, even if it means walking away and taking a deep breath to clear their minds. Seeing a project through to completion is what will set campers apart from their coworkers when they enter the workforce.

Time Management

Time management is another important skill campers learn without even realizing it. While a variety of activities available for them to try, campers are responsible for planning out their day so they get the most out of each activity. Campers learn to factor in things like travel time between activities or how much prep time is required between events. Most employers don’t tolerate excessive tardiness, so learning the importance of being on time and early will help campers be successful in the real world. They’re also given opportunities to extend grace and courtesy to those who are running behind, and taught to exercise patience when things don’t always go according to plan. Campers learn to be flexible and understanding, while also learning how to prioritize important events during their daily routine.

Organization

For many campers, camp is the first time they will share a private space with a group of people they don’t know. They quickly learn to organize their personal belongings in a way that makes them easily accessible but out of the way of others. A clean and organized desk or workspace increases productivity and is a sign of respect when working close to others. Campers are expected to keep their personal space neat and tidy, and be respectful of the people that share their space. Learning how to be organized at camp can directly transfer over to being organized at home and in their future professional environment.

Spending a summer at camp is one of the best things you can do for the future of your child. It is a fun way to build character and prepare them for the real world. Campers learn valuable life lessons on a daily basis at camp, all while having the best summer of their lives. Camp staff is focused on developing the whole camper, and embrace the opportunity to prepare each camper for success. When they finally enter the workforce, campers will be prepared with the confidence and skills required to be successful.

Mindfulness at Camp

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Children and teenagers are constantly surrounded by stimuli. They are easily overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that surround them, and often don’t have the skills to be fully present and limit distractions. This is why more and more teachers and professionals are incorporating mindfulness into their curriculum. And why Camp Starlight has been doing it since the beginning.

Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Campers all have the ability to be mindful, but there are proven techniques to help them perfect their skill. At camp, we incorporate these techniques into every day living to help campers improve their focus and concentration. It helps them be present in the moment and hyper-aware of their body, their space, and their surroundings.

Camp is a busy, noisy, active place. The energy on the campus is undeniable and can be felt from the moment you arrive. However, camp counselors and staff highly encourage campers to take periods of time throughout the day to relax, stay quiet, and unwind. Some campers choose to journal, write letters home, meditate, or even sleep during this time. This critical “down” time allows campers to stay in tune with their thoughts and feelings, and reflect on the activities of the day.

Meditation is a big part of the mindfulness initiative, but there are other ways campers can learn to be mindful. Campers may find themselves waiting to take their turn for different things throughout the day. Waiting is an excellent opportunity to tune in to their inner thoughts and feelings. A quick breathing exercise or an intentional appreciation for the space around them is a great way to practice mindfulness. For many people, listening intently and carefully is a challenge. Sometimes we are thinking more about our response than actually listening to what someone has to tell us. By focusing on being better listeners, campers can improve their communication skills and be mindful at the same time.

One of the things campers learn quickly is the power of connecting with nature. It’s always incredible what a quiet walk by the lake can do to clear your mind of negativity, anger, frustration, or fear. Camp Starlight gives campers the unique opportunity to connect with nature. Observing the natural beauty that surrounds them can help campers feel calm and connected when things seem to be getting out of control. Learning the calming power of a nature hike at camp is a coping strategy campers take with them for the rest of their lives.

Camp may be a busy place with lots to see and do, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for campers and staff to get in tune with their thoughts and feelings. Teaching mindfulness is just another way Camp Starlight fosters future leaders, builds character and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Teaching 21st Century Skills in a Camp Setting

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Camp Starlight knows that the weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It is an opportunity to do character building and confidence boosting. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. The work we do here, although disguised as fun, is serious. We use the limited time we have with our campers and use it to instill 21st-century principles that promote strong character, morals, and ideals in every camper.

 

When campers are guided on how to solve their differences through careful and respectful mediation, they are learning how to disagree with others without being mean or hurtful. When they can identify their feelings and communicate it with others, they are learning conflict management skills and maturing in their emotional development. These tools are vital in navigating the “real world” whether it’s their school campus, their first job or their first relationship. At camp, kids learn to respect each other, listen without interrupting, compromise, communicate, and be patient and considerate and honest. These principles will make it easier for them to maintain healthy relationships as they grow.

 

Each camper has a responsibility to keep the campus as beautiful as it was when he or she arrived. Our zero tolerance policy for littering and our emphasis on taking care of the environment helps campers realize how they impact the environment and how important it is to keep the world around them clean. Campers spend most of their days outside, connecting with nature and learning to appreciate the beauty around them. Exploring and enjoying Mother Nature doesn’t come naturally to all campers, and spending time at camp helps develop an appreciation for the environment.

 

At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended) fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they are all, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. They learn to help each other; to recognize a need in other campers and address it. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. Camp Starlight is intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.

 

Campers go home with more friends, better skills and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves a bit better than they came. And that we can instill basic morals and ideals into them that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families every year.

Learning to Look on the Bright Side at Summer Camp

Monday, November 20th, 2017

A silver lining can be defined as finding the hopeful side to any situation, no matter how gloomy. Silver linings are small blessings that can lift the spirits of individuals as well as put an instant smile on your face. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have an unlimited amount of silver linings that I can recall at any moment of the day to make it better. For twelve summers that I spent at Camp Starlight, I have had the opportunity to make memories, both big and small, that are impossible to forget. With each summer comes new bonds and irreplaceable friendships. After these twelve summers, I have the ability to remain positive and look on the bright side of just about any situation I am faced with. This skill is one that I have incorporated into my daily life in countless environments, both inside and outside of camp.

 

At Camp Starlight, small blessings radiate wherever you look. The support network is unprecedented in the fact that everyone in the camp community looks on the bright side. Whether it be helping to sweep the bunk before inspection, campers cheering a bunkmate on as she climbs the rock wall, or counselors reading a story before bed, the positive feeling of love and support ruminates throughout the camp environment.

 

While camp presents campers and counselors with this magical feeling of happiness, there are obstacles that are faced over the course of the summer. Changes in weather, homesickness, arguments, and disappointment is inevitable. However, camp provides its community with an opportunity to learn how to overcome these challenges by looking on the brightside. For every moment that appears to be gloomy, there is someone there to lend a supportive hug or helping hand to cheer you up. At Camp Starlight, the love between individuals is genuine and powerful. Being able to have real conversations and talk through difficult situations with friends and counselors alike is the silver lining that makes camp so unique.

 

These small blessings and ability to overcome obstacles at camp helps to prepare us for the daily routines we face during the other ten months of the year. Instead of needing help cleaning the bunk or feeling down after losing a sports game, campers and counselors are now faced with the challenges of school work and the professional world.

 

Philosophies learned at camp are ingrained in both campers and counselors as we remember the importance of remaining positive and supportive to those around us. These same campers that once needed help making their beds over the summer, now have the skill set and ability to support those friends in the classroom. This includes helping others with homework assignments, raising money for a school event, or even cheering on the school’s sports teams. For counselors in college and in the workforce, the attitudes and lessons learned at camp are easily transferable to all tasks. These can include pulling an all-nighter before an exam or meeting important deadlines set by your boss. It is the inner drive to look on the bright side that motivates campers and counselors to find a silver lining in all that they do.

How Summer Camp Cultivates A Growth Mindset

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Camp Starlight is focused on developing the whole child in a way that is healthy and fun. And although all of the running, jumping, swimming, climbing, dancing, and playing is great for their physical health, working on their emotional well-being, their character, and their self-confidence is just as necessary. This is why we put so much emphasis on having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

 

By definition, people with a growth mindset “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

 

Campers come to camp with the labels and expectations that the world has put on them, and many have come to believe that these traits, both good and bad, are just an integral part of who they are. Some have been told they are smart their entire lives, and their fixed mindset makes them believe that their intelligence is something that comes naturally to them and doesn’t require effort to improve upon. The same goes for athletic performance, relational ability, and their character. Campers who have been told they have anger issues will begin to believe that they are incapable of handling their anger; it is a fixed part of them that can’t be changed or improved upon.

 

At Camp Starlight, we focus on fostering a growth mindset in each camper. When they succeed, we praise their efforts by saying things like “you worked so hard at that” instead of “you are awesome!” Although the latter can be helpful to hear, hearing specific praise acknowledging the effort that the camper put into a specific task is more rewarding and builds their self-esteem. Camp staff and counselors work hard to praise the process instead of just the person. Campers will hear us say things like:

  • Tell me more about what you did
  • How did you figure that out?
  • Are you pleased with how it came out?
  • You must be so proud of yourself

 

We try to avoid labeling campers or putting too much emphasis on the labels they put on themselves. We want to encourage them to see themselves as capable and worthy of improvement in all areas of their lives. We want them to strive to be the best versions of themselves instead of being complacent with the label they’ve grown so comfortable with.

 

As campers step out of their comfort zones and try new things, they realize that they are capable of so much more than they thought and that their qualities, strengths, and abilities are not fixed. We want campers to be intrinsically motivated; to try new thing and preserve through hard things to feel good about themselves, not because they are seeking the approval of anyone else.

 

A summer at camp is about growing, maturing, and improving in all areas of life. Our goal is that campers leave with new friends, new experiences, and a stronger sense of who they are and what a valuable asset they are to the world. And it all starts with how they think about themselves.

 

Why Working at a Camp Starlight Makes You a Better Leader

Monday, October 9th, 2017

A lot of people wonder how so many counselors return to Camp Starlight and tell all their friends about working at this summer camp. The answer lies in how Camp Starlight helps counselors, whether it’s their first summer of their fifth, become better leaders when they work here. Working all summer long with campers is a challenge, but Camp Starlight really provides the guidance and support to its counselors to help them be the best at their job and help them be leaders. To have a successful summer you need to be a leader to the campers and here is how Camp Starlight ensures every counselor a successful summer.

 

  1. Team Work of Co-Counselors: When you’re a counselor at Starlight, you always work in a team with your co-counselors in your bunk. As a team you figure out how to work with the campers and help them have a fun summer, the constant teamwork molds how you become a leader.
  2. Find Your Voice: Communicating with campers every day and night, Starlight helps you find a positive voice for the campers to follow. This voice contributes to how effective you communicate with the campers and have a successful summer when conflicts arise, and as a leader, communication is the most important aspect of a productive team.
  3. Understand Your Skills: Starlight helps you figure out what your strong skills are when working with campers and what skills need improvement. They are always there to give you tips in how to have a better summer with your campers and want you to be a successful leader so the campers have fun.
  4. Keep the Motivation Going: Working day and night with the campers is a challenge, so motivational steam can run out quickly, but Starlight helps counselors push through the rough times and maintain focus. Giving the counselors a hand or helping them stay positive is how counselors learn to keep going, this skill is what helps counselors become better leaders because they are ready to face any challenges.
  5. The Importance of Smiling: Stress and worry is a daily part of the job, but Starlight reminds counselors to always keep smiling and this little habit goes a long way. Remembering to smile maintains a positive focus and makes you approachable, an important characteristic for the leader of a group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Last Summer as an Upper Senior

Monday, September 18th, 2017

When I ran off the bus on the first day of camp, I immediately started crying because I was so happy to be back at Camp Starlight. As an Upper Senior, this was my last summer at Camp Starlight and when I arrived I knew I was ready to embrace that role at camp.

The last summer is bittersweet in how special it is. This is the summer where I finally got to do everything I ever wanted to do at camp and it was a blast, but this was the last time I would get to spend an entire summer with my best friends playing games, hanging in the Lake House and having all the fun I could want. Sometimes it is overwhelming having this much responsibility at camp and knowing that you’re a huge role model for the younger girls, but once I embraced that responsibility, I became a better leader for my division. There are so many life lessons you learn in your last summer at camp, for instance, I learned how important it is to be calm and collected in stressful situations and that it is better to always have a positive outlook in any situation. Learning this helped me be the best leader and find my voice in the division. All the responsibility of being an Upper Senior is hard work, but at the end of the summer when I realized how many amazing things happened because of my hard work, I realized how in the end it was all really worth it and that my summer wouldn’t had been as fun if I didn’t put in my all. It is incredibly hard to say goodbye to my summer home but I with all the amazing memories and friendships I’ve created over the years, I know Camp Starlight will never really leave me.

– Bailey R., Camper

 

Just Dance!

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Dance is one of the most popular activities at Camp Starlight. It is a great sport and beneficial in many ways. It is first and foremost a really fun way to spend the summer, but it also serves as a creative outlet for campers, is a great workout, and can be helpful for both novice and seasoned dancers to assist in skill progression.

 

Taught by counselors who have a love and passion for dance, this activity is popular with boys and girls of all ages and experience levels. The great thing about participating in dance at Camp Starlight is that you can do so much more than dance. Not only do you get all the perks of a traditional sleep away camp, but there is the option to include other similar activities to your daily routine such as fitness, gymnastics, and cheerleading. Campers can expand their horizons and try different sports and activities that will help them become better dancers.

 

Learning a dance takes dedication and persistence. It is a very physical activity that can push campers out of their comfort zone, but it is also a huge confidence booster. Finally being able to perform a dance you’ve worked so hard to learn is a major accomplishment and a rush many dancers strive for. Dancing is a great way to build self-confidence, and many campers look forward to their time in the dance studio as a way to unwind, relax and let go. It provides a healthy outlet for creative expression and can be a stress reliever for many campers.

 

Dancing will definitely get your heart rate up, which is why it is such a good option for campers looking to stay (or get) physically fit over the summer. The upbeat music, the time spent with friends and the mental and physical challenges that come with learning a new dance make it one of those exercises that doesn’t feel like a workout at all. Dancing is a great cardio workout and improves coordination, flexibility, and balance at the same time.

 

The other thing campers love about dancing at camp is that regardless of skill level or experience, every camper feels welcomed, encouraged and supported. Everyone helps and learns from each other, and it is a safe place to be vulnerable and try new things. So put on your dancing shoes and let your inner dancer shine at Camp Starlight!

 

Jamming Out at Camp Starlight

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Music can be tied into so many activities and experiences at camp. From songs around the campfire to traveling songs, incorporating music into camp life just comes naturally. For campers who are interested in fine arts such as dance, music and theatre, music is a tool that can be used to express themselves in a way that written or spoken word just can’t. Dance classes give campers an artistic outlet to do what they love, and can create a strong sense of self-confidence.  Camp Starlight gives them the opportunity to explore music as a way of self-expression, and has so many benefits for the growing minds of young campers.

 

Whether it is singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, music works wonders on a growing, adolescent brain, and can teach them things that build their character and helps them become more productive members of society. While they are having fun with their fellow campers and counselors through music instruction, they don’t realize they are becoming more creative, more communicative, and more well- rounded in the process. At the end of the summer, many campers are proud to go home and show off their new musical abilities, and it gives them a sense of pride to have learned something new while they were away from home.

 

Children who learn to play an instrument at an early age benefit in many ways. It teaches perseverance, helps with math and number skills, enhances coordination, improves memory, reading and comprehension skills, and can help sharpen focus and concentration. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument has lifelong benefits, which is why music and access to instruments is such an important part of camp life. Campers can learn to play the guitar, participate in a live show, or learn about the behind the scenes workings of a real radio station. Camp provides plenty of options for all kinds of personalities and learning styles to really dive into music and everything it can teach them.

 

It is safe to assume that most campers are exposed to music on a daily basis back at home, but at camp they are exposed to different types of music, which broadens their horizons and helps them become more culturally aware. They learn to appreciate different styles of music, and learn the history behind specific music styles, instruments and songs.

 

Camp Starlight is all about providing children with the tools and resources they need to build their character and set up a foundation for a successful future. This goal could not be reached without the incorporation of dance, songs and musical instruments into the every day life of the campers.

Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum

Monday, March 6th, 2017

As an adult, there is nothing more annoying that coming across someone who feels that their opinion is the only opinion and that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. It’s hard to form and keep friendships with people who don’t appreciate or respect the difference of other people. This is why at Camp Starlight, we implement the “Don’t’ Yuck Someone Else’s Yum” guidelines, which helps campers appreciate and respect the likes and dislikes of other campers.

 

Teaching campers to be respectful of the opinions of others, even when they don’t agree, is just another way going to camp builds character and teaches valuable social skills. Campers are bound to come in contact with people who have different opinions and preferences from them around camp, and counselors encourage campers to embrace the difference and learn to disagree is a respectful way.  This helps prepare campers for the real world and sets them up to be tolerant and accepting members of society.

 

Campers learn that everyone has different likes and dislikes, but that is not helpful or necessary to make others feel bad for their opinions or preferences. Campers who are made to feel bad or embarrassed about their personal preferences are less likely to speak up or say what is on their mind, which is not something that we want to happen at camp, ever. We want to create a safe place where every camper can express himself or herself and have their voices heard without the fear of rejection or judgment. The “Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum,” rule at camp helps to create this safe environment, and teaches campers the value of diversity in the people around them.

 

Teaching campers not to be negative or judgmental about the preferences of others is also helping them learn proper etiquette and manners. Whether it’s at mealtime or any other time around camp when opinions and preferences are expressed, campers are practicing how to be polite and well-rounded individuals, which will undoubtedly transfer over to their world at home.

 

If your child gets home and you turns their nose up to the delicious broccoli and Brussels sprout dinner you’ve prepared, you can kindly remind me of what they learned at camp, and say “Hey, Don’t Yuck My Yum!” We can’t guarantee they’ll eat the veggies, but it will help them be respectful of the different opinions and tastes of the people around them.