Camp traditions are kind of like an inside joke between friends; you really have to be there and be part of it to understand and appreciate the power and the feeling that is associated with them. Camp traditions are things that happen at camp that every camper and staff member can relate to, whether they went to camp 70 years ago or are experiencing it now for the first time. They are a way for campers to connect with their fellow campers, their counselors, and the camp itself. Some “traditional” traditions at camp like singing Friends and the Camp Starlight Alma Mater, All Camp Show, Opening Campfires, skipping around the flagpole, divisional cheers, and singing in the dining room create a sense of connection and belonging to the Starlight family. Many traditions at Camp Starlight are held sacred to campers and counselors alike, and they’re just one of those things you have to experience to truly understand.
Posts Tagged ‘camp counselor’
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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!
Everyone that arrives at summer camp leaves with a profoundly changed outlook on life. Like many camp counselors, I expected to learn a lot from the experience. What I didn’t expect was for so many of the things I learned to come from my campers!
It turns out being a role model can be a two-way street. If you’re looking to become a counselor yourself, here are a few of the things you can expect to learn from your campers:
1. You get what you give
Campers demand a ton of energy, and keeping up with the day’s activities — all while being positive, enthusiastic, and with an eye towards safety — can be totally exhausting. Something new happens every day, and greeting new challenges with a smile makes all the difference.
Show up to an activity expecting to be bored, and you’re sure to be bored. Show up ready to give it your best shot, and the fun is guaranteed!
2. Respect is more important than agreement
I’d be lying if I told you I always agreed with everyone at camp. That would be impossible! However, I soon started to notice that the campers who were having the most fun were the ones who treated their peers with respect — even if they didn’t want to be BFFs with them. Campers who refrained from poking fun at someone, even behind their back, always came to the end of the summer with tons of friends and a big smile on their face.
I resolved to start being more conscious about showing respect to my fellow counselors; and the results were incredible! I never even realized how much negativity you can let go when you simply cut out the gossip and “agree to disagree.” This one lesson was worth the whole summer!
3. You can always do more than you think
Camp teaches you how to manage time better than any class. After all, if you can’t keep track of your own life, how are you going to keep track of all your campers?
Life at camp quickly taught me that I was never as busy as I thought I was; I just needed better organization. It’s easy to say “it’s too much” or “I can’t do that” in regular life, but at camp there’s no option: you simply have to show up, rain or shine, and give it your best shot.
4. Laughing makes everything better
It’s scientific fact that smiling makes your mood better, even if you have to “fake it till you make it” at first.
On the one hand camp is full of variety, but on the other sometimes you have to buckle down and do the same activity week after week and make sure it feels “fun” every time. Seeing the campers’ faces light up when we jumped into a new activity kept it fresh for me. When I started smiling even during the activities I didn’t feel like doing, the activities became fun again!
Now I use this technique every day in my “real life,” and it always helps make tasks like laundry day or preparing reports at work feel “fresh” again!
5. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”
Being a summer camp counselor is often a counselor’s first experience as an authority figure. When you’re barraged with questions all day, it’s frustrating at first when you don’t know the answer.
You’ll quickly learn that campers don’t mind if you don’t know everything; in fact, they don’t expect you to. Saying “I don’t know… but let’s find out” is much more exciting than the alternatives, and it shows them that you’re human too.
6. Including everyone makes life more fun
Sometimes there’s a camper who just doesn’t want to do anything. The food isn’t fried enough, the activities aren’t fun enough, and the campfire isn’t “cool” enough. Including everyone in activities is really challenging at first, especially when it means you have to be extra-committed to keep the energy flowing. But something magic happens when you insist on everyone playing together: that camper’s finally joins in, and before you know it they’re having the time of their life! The first time you make that change in a camper’s attitude will change your outlook forever.
7. You’re remembered for the little things
There’s a saying that we’re remembered for our mistakes, not our successes; but I disagree. At camp, as in life, it’s the little things that make your legacy. That time you brought a sick camper their favorite dessert from the dining hall, even though they didn’t ask? They will never forget. Anyone who’s been to summer camp knows it’s the little kindnesses that make the biggest difference.
8. It’s okay to be alone sometimes
Camp is all about togetherness, but sometimes a little alone time is just as important. Camp helps everyone grow by making them learn to ask for it when they need it, but sometimes campers don’t know how to do that and get frustrated. As a counselor, your job is to step in and help them get everything they need to have a great experience. Learning to recognize when campers need alone time and when they need team time is a subtle skill that will radically change your life outside camp.
9. Always pack more socks
This last lesson may be the most important of all! No one ever packs enough socks. They get dirty, they get lost, and you always need more than you think. And yes, you definitely need a comfy pair for lounging around the cabin!
Keep an open mind and have a great summer
Summer camp is as much about learning as it is about fun. When your campers speak, keep your ears open; you just might learn something!
“I love camp starlight because it allows you to be creative” – Ally, Counselor for bunk 7
Sport: Boys Basketball
Age: 6th Grade
Wayne County Update
Basketball vs. Morasha
Unfortunately, Starlight started the game off on the wrong foot, falling behind early 21-4. Despite the poor start, Starlight cut the lead to 2 with 1.2 seconds left. Ben K. took a three as time expired which sadly rattled in and out. Charlie H. and Ben. K finished the game with 20 points each. Jackson F. played well and was a rebound monster. Final Score 49-51.
- Hi. It’s me, your counselor. Hello. I’m over here.
- I don’t think these campers will ever remember my name.
- WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH STUFF???
- 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.
- *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
- I’m sweating so much. I. Didn’t. Know. I. Could. Sweat. So. Much.
- Long-time camp staff where do you get all of this energy from?? Teach me your ways.
- It’s 7:55 a.m. Is that taps or tattoos?
- Campers, pleeeeeeease just help clean the bunk. It’s not fair, I know.. but life’s not fair.
- You’re telling me that the whole camp eats lunch at the same time??
- I can’t climb to the top bunk, someone let me sit on your bed forseconds.
- Yay! You finally know my name.
- 48 more days of this?? How am I going to survive?
- Kids…. for the 1500th time. Please go to bed!!
- Ahhh!! Tomorrow is a new day.
- Wow today was much better!
- Yay! The campers wrote their parents and said they liked their counselors… cha-ching!
- I’m getting the hang of this.. I kinda like it. Okay I like it a LOT.
- Aww… a camper just offered me to sit on her bed.
- I got it! The first bugle call is Reveille.
- 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.
Written by Megan Panelas
This summer will be my 15th year working at Camp Starlight and every year people ask why I return summer after summer. I usually give the short answer of “it’s my second home,” but thought I would share the long version this time around.
Camp Starlight is a very Special place. Camp is a place where time slows down. It lets everyone take time out of their busy lives to really just be themselves. Both staff and campers can be who they truly are. It is amazing to watch campers in the camp atmosphere gain confidence in a nurturing environment. Each summer as they come back they truly gain a better sense of themselves. They belong at camp and they are part of the community that we, the staff, strive for. Through the program that has been developed at camp, each age group has their own set of traditions that they contribute to the Starlight community. It is amazing to watch their progression. From the junior enthusiasts who live and breathe camp and have so much fun, to the inters, who embrace the fun they are having and make lifelong friends. Then to the upper camp debs, who really learn more about themselves and bond to create more of a community atmosphere, and the seniors who have become a family. The Upper Seniors take on the role of helping the juniors have fun through a few special events. This cycle continues and is so strong at Starlight that many return as Counselor Assistants (CA’s) and then as counselors.
This is the part that I am now enjoying the most. Campers that I met when they were 7 and 8 are now counselors in the lower deb division with me. This truly is a full circle community. These campers turned counselors are the essence of camp and often make campers summers even more spectacular. I have had the joy to watch so many campers grow on a summerly basis, becoming exemplary staff and mentors over time.
Every camper is unique and may enjoy a variety of different things and camp has the opportunities to flourish in a million different ways. From being center stage, to being on a Wayne county team, from winning a race for the swim team to finally mustering up the courage to do the zip line, from launching rockets to scoring a goal in a league game and from dance parties to divisional campfires, there is something for everyone. It is finding that passion in each camper and helping them excel to have the best summer, every summer, as they grow and are true citizens of the Starlight community.
Being a part of this Community, and watching it grow is astounding and I just can’t stay away. I have become a part of it. Wabam.