Posts Tagged ‘advantages of summer camp’

How Campers and Staff Become Leaders at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

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“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others” – John Quincy Adams

 

From the moment you wake up at camp until the moment you fall asleep, you have countless opportunities to inspire, encourage, support, love and empower those around you. There will be many times throughout the day when you see someone struggling, whether it is with homesickness, trying over and over again to get up on their skis, or finding the courage to try the ropes course. At any given moment, you have the chance to be a leader by serving others. They may need some advice, an extra hand or just someone to listen. When you go out of your way to help others, that is a characteristic of a leader.

 

You don’t have to be a camp counselor to be a leader. You can lead by following directions, being honest, showing good sportsmanship, acting with dignity and being kind to others. You never know who is watching and there is usually a good chance that a younger or newer camper is watching you to see how you deal with certain situations. Whether you make the right choices are not, people are watching and will do what you do. It is important to do the right thing, even if nobody is watching. This is another true characteristic of a leader.

 

Although everyone has the opportunity to become a leader every day, some will be trusted with a valuable role to lead others. As a big brother or a big sister, you can help younger and less experienced campers get a feel for what camp is like. It is a very big responsibility to be a mentor to someone else, and campers take it very seriously.   Campers have the responsibility of being a big sister or big brother and lead by serving. They take the younger campers needs and wants into consideration and help make their adjustment to camp easy.  They know that being a leader is not about them, it’s about how they can build up and encourage those that are following them.

 

Camp counselors get a unique opportunity to learn how to lead at camp.  Not only are they responsible for day to day activities, organizing events, and making sure everyone is safe, they are also role models. The way they talk and think and act is being watched by hundreds of little eyes every day. They lead by example, showing kindness and patience to everyone around them.  They empower others by encouraging them to do things they are afraid to do, standing by them when they fall down and offering a hand to help them back up.  Many camper say they look up to their camp counselors, and strive to be a counselor themselves one day.

 

When campers return to their normal life, they put the leadership skills they learned at camp to use.  They have an easier time standing up to peer pressure, they speak up to bullies, and they follow directions in class and show good sportsmanship on the field.  They are leaders in every aspect of their lives, because of what they learned at camp.

 

You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. A leader is someone who simply empowers others, serves others, and works as a team player.  At camp, campers will learn the true traits of a leader, and will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Break Your Usual Routine

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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It is pretty hard to step out of your comfort zone when you are literally in your comfort zone. Being in the comfort of your own home makes breaking your normal routine a little difficult.  When you are at home, you find that you are always waking up in your same room, eating breakfast at the same place, going to the same places and hanging out with the same people who are doing the same things.  Many people like routine; they enjoy the security of knowing what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen and not having any surprises. Unfortunately, things can get very boring very quickly this way.

 

So when you make the decision to physically get out of your comfort zone, and head to Camp Starlight for the summer, you have no choice but to do different things, with different people, in a totally different place. Breaking your usual routine is a little bit easier when you’re somewhere else.

 

Breaking up your routine is good for you for many reasons.  First, it helps you to see things differently. It also help you to become more creative, more perceptive, and be OK with not being in control all the time.  When you get out of your comfort zone, you are bound to make mistakes. The good thing about mistakes is that they are a learning opportunity. The more mistakes you make the more you learn.  Doing things that make you nervous, afraid, or uncomfortable can be a great teaching tool.  If you are normally an indoor sort of person, bike riding, rock climbing, or learning to sail may make you kind of nervous. However, trying these things exposes you to experiences that are new and exciting, and can teach you a lot about yourself.

 

When you expose yourself to things that are unfamiliar, it makes your brain work. When your brain is working, you’re constantly learning and growing. It is great brain exercise to step out of your comfort zone and do things that are a little different.

 

Another great benefit of breaking up your every day routine is that it also allows you to break bad habits. If you find that you are constantly biting your nails while you watch TV, you may be able to break that habit at camp since you will be too busy having fun to care about TV.  If you have a bad habit of interrupting people, you will quickly learn to communicate more effectively by being surrounded by new people at camp. Breaking up your routine also causes you to break bad habits.

 

The great thing about stepping out of your comfort zone at camp is that you hardly have to do any work at all. Just by merely being at camp you are already taking the first step in changing your routine.  Every morning when you wake up at camp, there is a new day ahead of you with new experiences to try, new people to meet, and new things to learn.  Unless you sail, dance, create, climb, swim, bike ride, hike, and explore on a daily basis at home, being at camp is definitely going to be a change in your normal every day routine.  It is going to require you to do things that make you a little nervous, but in the end will give you a boost of confidence.

 

Habit and routine can be comforting, and can be a great way to stay organized and on track. However, switching it up a little bit is good for your brain, good for your soul, and good for yourself confidence.

 

 

Icebreakers Are Uncomfortable, But…They Also Work Really Well

Monday, December 5th, 2016

 

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We all know that feeling you get when you hear someone say “Now we’re all going to stand up and say something about ourselves…” or “find a partner and….” Or “we are all going to stand in a circle and….” We look around, wondering if we are the only ones who feel uncomfortable or want to sink into our chair and pretend to be invisible. These icebreakers are common on the first day of school, a training class, or anywhere where there is a big group of people that need to get comfortable quickly.  Icebreakers can be uncomfortable at first, but they really do work. They help get people talking, which quickly build comfort and trust within the group.

 

Normally, shy people hate icebreakers the most. The thought of walking up to a stranger and asking about their favorite color, or standing up in front of a group and talking about their favorite sport, I won’t give them a heart attack.  But icebreakers are the best for shy people, because it allows other people to approach them and gives them a chance to talk about themselves and connect with others.

 

There are many opportunities to “break the ice “the first few days of camp.  There are a lot of new people, and everyone is a little nervous or a little shy.  Camp counselors know that “get to know you games quote can be a little uncomfortable, but they tried through and get everybody involved. By the end of the game, people who are shy and hesitant are now laughing smiling and making new friends.

 

Icebreakers are good for:

  • Sharing an experience, during, or skill that you’re good at with the rest of the group.
  • Finding other people who have the same things in common as you.
  • Lightening the mood in a typically awkward situation.

 

More often than not, campers credit icebreakers to introducing them to people who become their best friends for the entire summer.  At camp, some common icebreakers include: two truths and a lie, the toilet paper game, hula hoop and volleyball games, and celebrity bingo.

 

It’s very normal to be nervous when you arrive at camp, especially for the first time. It’s also very nervous to be uncomfortable when the counselors set up a game or activity that make you step out of your comfort zone.  However, if you can just trust in the process, you may come out of it with a new best friend, or 10.

Skills All Children Need for Future Success and How They Learn Them at Camp Starlight

Monday, November 21st, 2016

 

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Children are like sponges. They pick up on everything, are very perceptive and hungry for knowledge. They ask “why?” all the time because they are fascinated by how the world works and want to be “in the know” about everything around them. When they reach school age, the spend most of their days in a classroom, learning valuable skills like addition and subtraction and grammar and geography. They learn to write their name and multiply and memorize the periodic table of elements. And while all of these things are important, there are other skills that children need to learn to set them up for future success. Skills that help campers navigate the real world, help them build relationships, solve problems and communicate with others are imperative to their future success. Fortunately, most of these skills are engrained into the fabric of camp life, and campers come home with a new set of skills under their belt.

 

  1. Problem Solving– In the “real world,” there won’t always be an older sibling, parent, or camp counselor to help children with their problems. They will need to learn how to assess the situation and think of a solution. They will need to know how to use their resources to help them, and how to think outside of the box to find an answer. At Camp Starlight, children are exposed to many challenges that help them practice their problem solving skills. They are taught to observe and analyze their situation to find a solution, and encouraged not to give up when things get tough. Camp counselors are great about taking a step back and letting campers figure things out, while still being close enough to provide support and feedback when they need it.
  2. Playing well with others– This skill is a big one at camp, because when you spend 24/7 with a bunch of other people, children must learn how to work and play together. Success in the world, and in the workplace, is commonly attributed to the ability to work as a team towards a common goal. Working with coworkers to meet a deadline, even if the coworkers aren’t your favorite people in the world, is an important skill to have. If you cannot compromise, listen and communicate, it will be difficult to be successful in the future. Campers learn from the very beginning of camp how to be inclusive, good sports, and team players.
  3. Communicating clearly-When children learn to express themselves in a way that is diplomatic, honest, and sincere, they set themselves up for success. They could have the best ideas in the world, but if they are loud, always interrupt people, or are rude and condescending, their message will not be delivered properly. The same goes for campers who are naturally quiet, reserved and shy. If they never learn to speak up, the world misses out on all of their great ideas and opinions. Camp is a safe place for children to voice their concerns, ideas and beliefs, and are encouraged to speak up for what they need and want. They are also taught to listen to others respectfully, and agree to disagree when necessary. Communication is the key to success, and campers learn quickly the value of hearing others and being heard.
  4. Being openminded– Campers learn to appreciate the differences in their fellow campers, and learn to embrace everybody for who they are. Open-mindedness sets children up for success because it allows them to see things from multiple angles, which is an excellent problem solving technique. It also makes them more worldly and knowledgeable. Open minded people are successful because they see the big picture, they are less resistant to change, and are flexible in their ideas.
  5. Goal Setting– Successful people set realistic, attainable goals and work towards them. They make a plan, and work towards their goal until their plan doesn’t work anymore, which is when they make a new plan. They aren’t afraid to ask for help meeting their goals, and know that making mistakes is part of the process. At camp, campers are encouraged to set goals and work towards them all summer. Some set a goal to try something they’ve never done before, others want to learn to swim, or go a whole summer without taking a single selfie. Camp counselors encourage campers to focus on their goals and help them take the necessary steps to reach them. Children need to know how to set realistic and attainable goals now, so that when they enter the workforce, they can get things done without feeling overwhelmed or lost
  6. Time Management– Camp does a great job of keeping campers busy throughout the day. There are certain times for eating, resting, structured activities, evening activities, and free time. Although campers don’t have to worry too much about creating a schedule at camp, they are responsible for being on time to events and activities, and knowing where they need to be and when. Being late, or managing time ineffectively, is not something successful people do. Children who want to be successful need to understand the importance of time, and how to get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

 

These six skills are vital for children to grow up to be successful adults. They need to know how to interact with others as well as be responsible for their own actions, thoughts and feelings. Children learn a lot of these things by watching those around them, which is why camp counselors take all of these skills so seriously and model them as best as they can. Children leave Camp Starlight with the tools they need to become productive and successful citizens in the real world.

10 Best Camp Counselor Moments

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Just like a treasure box full of keepsakes or a drawer full of letters from friends, every second at Camp Starlight has the potential to turn into a lesson you hold on to forever. After all, what is camp but a collection of magical moments?

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True, the days can be long — but you can always count on this: just when you think you’re getting “burnt out” from school or work, something will happen to remind you why you decided to  be a camp counselor in the first place!

 

Remember these 10 classic camp counselor moments to remind yourself why you left civilization behind to be a camp counselor at Camp Starlight all summer!

The first campfire of the summer

Every campfire is special, but the first campfire of the summer holds a special place in the collective lore of camp counselors.

 

After a long (and cold!) year away from the woods and cabins of summer camp, that classic campfire smell comes like a rush of fresh air. Ushering in the new season — and at the same time, bringing back happy memories from summer seasons past. Sigh… truly, no camp moment is more emotional than that first campfire. (Except perhaps the last one!)

 

That moment when you realize you don’t miss your phone

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Digital detox is a big part of camp life, especially if you’re totally addicted to Instagram and Buzzfeed. Sometimes those first few days can be a shock to the system.

 

The rewards are big, though, for counselors who learn to “tune in and tune out” — living in the moment is way easier when you aren’t tied to yesterday’s Facebook posts!

 

That moment when you learn to live without your mobile “leash” is a classic camp moment and a lesson you’ll always carry with you.

 

Getting up on stage and making a total fool of yourself

 

You never were into acting. You also couldn’t imagine that you had any creative talents to share. But there you were at camp up there on stage totally making a fool of yourself. Setting a great example to your campers by going out of your own comfort zone and participating in the evening activities at camp is something you will never forget. Yes, the picture of you in the crazy wig and tutu found its way on facebook but now your friends and family back home will see a different side of you.

The glory of shower hour

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Showering at home may be kind of “meh.” But showering at camp? Basically the opposite of “meh!” Nobody said camp life had to be muddy, right?

The only real challenge of shower hour at camp is making sure everybody doesn’t take a full hour just to themselves! Trust us when we say you’ll never forget that camp shower feeling — nothing feels better after a long day of running around in the sun!

The last s’more of the summer

The first day of camp and the last day at camp are always the most emotional for summer camp counselors. Making new friends! Going back to school! It can be kind of a crazy roller coaster (but a fun one of course). Camp is all about traditions, so chowing down on that last traditional campfire s’more is bound to be a moment you always remember. Cheesy? So be it!

Sending postcards to your friends at home

Let’s be honest — isn’t it a relief to be working at Camp Starlight this summer instead of painting houses or checking out groceries like most of your friends from school?

 

Sending postcards home is one of those moments when you stop and realize exactly how awesome it is to be where you are. The question is, how can you fit all that enthusiasm into one five-by-six inch card?

Fourth of July at camp

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Fourth of July is always awesome. Fourth of July with all your friends at summer camp? Four times as awesome!

 

We may raise the flag at camp every day, but it’s extra special on the Fourth of July. Who knows, there might even be a few fireworks…

When you cheer up a discouraged camper

Being there for your campers when they need you is by far the most fulfilling part of the camp counselor experience.

 

I still remember the counselor who helped me cheer up and get back in the game when I felt homesick at my first sleepaway camp. So getting to do the same for a camper with the blues felt all the better.

 

The power to turn “having the blues” into “having a blast” is the superpower that separates camp counselors from mere mortals!

Getting mail from home

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Yeah, sure, Mom can be annoying sometimes. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and getting mail from the folks is a special moment for camp counselors.

 

Especially when you’re close to the end of the season, those little pieces of home start to feel a little bittersweet. It’s nice to know that you’ll get to see the ol’ homestead again in a few weeks — even if you’d rather stay at camp all year around!

The last campfire of the season

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Just like the first campfire of the year sets the tone for the future, the last campfire of the year gives everyone at camp a chance to reflect on a season well-spent.

 

Everyone around you has gone from being friendly strangers to life-long friends and chances are you know the camp grounds like the back of your hand.

 

Cherish those last few group songs, and remember: next summer will be here before you know it!

How Summer Camp is as Magical as Disney!

Monday, September 5th, 2016

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They say Disney is the most magical place on Earth, but ask any kid who has spent the summer at Camp Starlight, and they’ll beg to differ. They’ll tell you of a place that feels magical, that sparks their imagination, a place they can’t wait to get to and a place they never want to leave. They will tell you about a place where you can spend the entire day going, playing and doing and STILL not do and see everything there is to see. They’ll tell you that camp is a lot like Disney, but better.

 

There is something about making the journey to Disney that adds to the magic and excitement of the experience. Even if the drive is long or the flight is exhausting, there is something about the journey that adds to the excitement.  The same goes for camp. The build up, the anticipation, the letters in the mail, the newsletters and all of the things that lead up to the initial trip to camp help build the excitement before they even step foot on the grounds.

 

Camp is made for kids, much like Disney. It is made with growing imaginations in mind. Camp Starlight takes everything that kids love and roll it into one jam-packed summer. And, like Disney, every kid can find something they love at camp. Camp caters to athletes, thespians, crafters, animal lovers, thrill seekers, writers, outdoor enthusiasts, artists, nature lovers and everything in between, just like Disney caters to pirates, princesses, evil villains, talking mice and ducks that dance. Whatever campers are into, camp has something for them.

 

It goes without saying that a day at Disney is a day filled with fun, but for most families, it is just a day. Some lucky families can spend a few days exploring Disney, but usually no more than a week. The great thing about camp is that is lasts for the summer, and kids have plenty of opportunities to try everything, and then re-try the things they love the most. Camp is a summer of fun and adventure, giving campers plenty of time to bond with new friends, and allowing them to enjoy everything camp has to offer without feeling rushed.

4 Ways Camp Creates Happy Campers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

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Did you know that there are certain things, certain scientifically proven things, that are shown to create and increase the hormones in our brain that make us happy? This isn’t just some fluffy stuff we made up, it’s proven by really smart scientists who know their stuff!

The amazing thing is, that most of the things doctors and scientists recommend people to do to be happy can all be done at camp! No wonder kids who spend their summers at Camp Starlight are some of the happiest kids around!

Stop and Smell The Roses

Well, any flower will do, really. A study done from the Human Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University found that “flowers in general are a powerful positive emotions inducer.” In the study, people exposed to floral scents were three times more likely to have immediate associations with happy and positive memories. Lavender can decrease anxiety and depression and jasmine can have a calming effect. Lucky for campers, the grounds are a hot spot for beautiful fauna, and sweet smelling flowers can be found just about anywhere. There are many distinct smells at camp, including sunscreen, bug spray and s’mores. But the soft scent of flowers will definitely boost your mood anytime.

Exercise in the Morning

Exercise plays a huge part in your mood. When we are feeling slow and lazy, our mood tends to reflect that. When we are active and moving about, we tend to be happier. Exercise releases endorphins and proteins that make us feel happier. Getting active first thing in the morning is an excellent way to prepare your brain for a great day. At camp, kids have plenty of opportunities to start their day with a run, a swim, yoga class or a game of football. Getting an early start is a great mood changer, and can be the first step in a happier day!

Spend Time With Happy People

Everyone has had that one friend or acquaintance who is negative all of the time and who complains a lot. It can be mentally exhausting to be surrounded by all of that negativity, and it’ll eventually take a toll on your personal happiness. Scientists say surrounding yourself with happy, positive people will make you a more positive and happy person. It’s hard to be down and depressed when you’re around people who are hungry for life, laughter and adventure. And, what do you know, camp is chock full of happy people. Both the campers and the staff are having the time of their lives, and their mood, vibes and happiness are totally contagious.

Go Outside

Being outside and connecting with nature can do wonders on your mood. Getting out and about has been proven to increase concentration, reduces stress, and (surprise!) can boost your mood and overall happiness. The fresh air is good for you, the Vitamin D you get from the sun is beneficial, and the ever-changing scenery of the outdoors is an excellent way to get your brain working and help you to focus better. A large portion of a camper’s day is spent outside, enjoying the sunshine and exploring nature, and this helps them to feel energized and excited.

Teachers and parents have said time and time again that they can just tell the difference between kids who go to camp and kids who stay home. “There’s just something different about kids who go to camp. It’s their confidence, their mood, their overall happiness” is something heard quite often about campers. And it makes sense! Spending the summer at Camp Starlight is the perfect formula for happiness, and gives a whole new meaning to the term “happy campers”

Wayne County and Invitational Tournaments

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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There is something thrilling about waking up the morning of something big. Heading into a competition that you’ve worked towards, planned for, and practiced for. Walking towards the field with your team, dressed in your Starlight uniform, ready to take on the opponent, you can hear your heart beating in your chest and you’re pumped to show off your skills. Campers love participating in Wayne County and Invitational tournaments, as it gives them the chance to compete with other camps in sports such as tennis, baseball, gymnastics, roller hockey, dance, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and swimming.

Everyone goes into these competitions with a desire to win, but the underlying good sportsmanship value is instilled in campers from the very beginning, and everyone goes in with one goal in mind: to have a blast. Just like with every activity at camp, campers are encouraged to show a positive attitude, try their best, appreciate and respect their leaders, and ask for help when they need it. These values become ingrained in each camper, and when it is time for tournaments, everyone is on the same page and are there for friendly competition and a great time. These tournaments give campers the chance to show off everything they’ve learned throughout the summer in a particular sport or activity. Coaches get campers prepared for their games in each participating sport or activity, and are walking right along next to them when their team enters the field. The benefits of competition are endless, and campers learn and grow so much through the entire process.

 

What does being an upper senior mean to me?

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

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As tradition, every summer the upper senior girls are entrusted in leading all of girls camp in the opening campfire. Each division carries out the tradition of having their own special cheer; however, for the upper seniors, this means something a little different. At the beginning of the night, we are asked the question, “what does being an upper senior mean to you?” Well for me, this meant a lot of things. Being the oldest kids in camp comes with no small price; one must be respectful, gracious, and above all, a role model others can look up to. Once upon a time, I was only nine years old, sitting in my small chair and thinking to myself, I only wish I could be like these girls. Now, I have become one of them.

Being an upper senior also means making everything count. As this is my final year as a camper, I plan on cherishing every moment I have here as my last. This place has allowed me to flourish as a camper, have experiences most kids would think unimaginable, and create friendships that will last a lifetime. I have grown to understand that camp is sacred, and we must appreciate every single minute here.

Lastly, being an upper senior means I have had another place to call home. I will never forget my experiences at camp and cannot wait for the rest of the summer as an upper senior.

21 Thoughts that Run Through a First Time Counselors Mind During the First Week of Camp

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

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  1. Hi. It’s me, your counselor. Hello. I’m over here.
  2. I don’t think these campers will ever remember my name.
  3. WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH STUFF???
  4. What is with all of these Adidas shoes that my dad wore when playing basketball in the 70’s? Maybe I should get those. Yeah, my cool days are over.
  5. *While campers sing all their camp songs* “Fa la la I don’t know the words, I don’t know the words, maybe one day I will know the words
  6. I’m sweating so much. I. Didn’t. Know. I. Could. Sweat. So. Much.
  7. Long-time camp staff where do you get all of this energy from?? Teach me your ways.
  8. It’s 7:55 a.m. Is that taps or tattoos?
  9. Campers, pleeeeeeease just help clean the bunk. It’s not fair, I know.. but life’s not fair.
  10. You’re telling me that the whole camp eats lunch at the same time??
  11. I can’t climb to the top bunk, someone let me sit on your bed forseconds.
  12. Yay! You finally know my name.
  13. 48 more days of this?? How am I going to survive?
  14. Kids…. for the 1500th time. Please go to bed!!
  15. Ahhh!! Tomorrow is a new day.
  16. Wow today was much better!
  17. Yay! The campers wrote their parents and said they liked their counselors… cha-ching!
  18. I’m getting the hang of this.. I kinda like it. Okay I like it a LOT.
  19. Aww… a camper just offered me to sit on her bed.
  20. I got it! The first bugle call is Reveille.
  21. One week down already? That went by so fast. I’m so excited for the rest of the summer and all of the memories that my bunk is going to make. These next six weeks need to slooooooooowwww down.