Posts Tagged ‘Camp Staff’

No Filter Needed at Camp

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.25.35 PMIn a world of selfies, Instagram likes and Facebook’s new “love” feature, people are putting more emphasis on taking a picture of an experience than really enjoying and living in the experience itself. We participate in an event (concert, party, sporting event, social gathering) but spend most of the time trying to get the most artistic angle, the coolest filter and the best overall image quality to generate enough likes (and now loves) to make us feel valued, heard and appreciated online. As we view life through the camera function on our phones, we are missing the big picture, by trying to get a good one.

Since campers don’t have access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of those picture collage apps while at camp, the pictures that are taken of them are real, honest snapshots of what they’re doing at camp. They can’t sit and stare at a screen and crop and rotate and edit a picture before they post it. They can’t over analyze how they look or worry about if the camera got them at their best angle. The picture will show them sweaty, messy, busy, and real. It will show the macaroni and cheese stain on their shirt, the crazy faces they make as they fly down the zip line, and the real, genuine look of accomplishment when they face a fear for the first time.

11539072_10152902437221960_8957652597744731094_oPosing for pictures at camp is beneficial for the campers’ self image. It helps them see what parents and counselors and family member see when they look at the pictures; real kids having real fun. It helps campers become more confident about who they are without the need to fix, edit, change, crop or filter anything out. Kids get so wrapped up in social media and how they are portrayed to the world, always comparing themselves to others and forgetting to appreciate who they really are. Self confidence issues happen when teens begin to think that the perfect images displayed on their friends’ Facebook profiles are real life, and they begin to compare their life with others. They forget that for the one perfect picture that was posted, there were probably 50 others that were taken that didn’t make the cut. Letting campers see what they really look like when they are really having fun will help them realize that a picture of a t-shirt stained, muddy shoe kid having the time of their lives is so much more valuable than a perfectly timed selfie in the bathroom.

Campers will also realize that they just don’t have the time to be playing photo editor while they’re at camp. From the time they wake up until lights out at bedtime, they’re constantly going and doing and playing and exploring. The pictures captured of them doing these things don’t need a filter or any edits at all. There’s no time for that at camp.

Promoting high self esteem for campers is something counselors take very seriously, but a lot of it happens naturally. Kids learn that it is okay to just be a kid, and that every moment doesn’t have to have the wittiest, funniest hashtag. When family and friends back home see pictures of kids at camp, they get a real snap shot into a summer full of real friends, real adventures, real laughs and real, life changing experiences. #nofilter.

Camp Starlight: My Summer Home

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

UntitledWritten by Madison Dratch

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” -Margaret Peters

In June 2006, I arrived at Camp Starlight for the first time with teddy bear in hand and a nervous smile on my face. As other campers ran off the buses and embraced one another with love and the utmost excitement, I stood anxiously, unaware of the impact that these three hundred eighty five acres of land would have on my life.

Through my six summers as a camper, I discovered more about myself than I thought possible. I slowly grew out of my shell as I tried playing new sports, auditioned for plays at the rec hall, and established new friendships. I learned how to work with teams and handle conflict as my bunk strategically choreographed what we believed to be the best MTV night dance in Starlight history. Although my love for camp continued to grow with each summer that passed, so did the dread of thinking about the day that marked my last moments as a camper. In August 2011, I cried for the last twenty-four hours that made up my Upper Senior Summer. As my bunk said our final goodbyes, we knew that we no longer would all be able to sleep in the same cabin again, spend every meal together, or coordinate our sugar lips and soffe shorts to all match perfectly. Gone were the days of relying on our counselors to get us to wake up at reveille, clean our bunks in time for inspection, and make sure we follow our schedules perfectly. The book of being a camper officially closed and it was time for me to start a new adventure as a staff member.

Wearing a staff shirt for the first time provided me with the same nervous feeling I had getting off the bus on the first day of camp so many years ago. As a camper, I idolized the many counselors that had mentored me through the years. Now, I was on the other side of the fence and had to be the role model that my campers needed me to be. All feelings of anxiousness diminished the moment I stepped into my new bunk and saw eleven young hopeful faces staring back at me. I don’t know how it is possible, but working as a staff member provided me with an even more rewarding experience than all of my summers as a camper combined. The immense pride I felt and continue to feel when my campers achieve milestones in their lives speaks volumes of the impact being a counselor has on my life. I remember the joy I felt when my campers won their first Wayne County Softball game. I remember the intense process of memorizing lines when my camper starred as Peter Pan followed by the overwhelming feeling of fulfillment when she perfected every line and song on Opening Night. Fast forward four summers filled with four unique bunks and irreplaceable memories, the once young and hopeful bunk of eleven ten year old girls are now entering their Lower Senior Summer. The girls that once needed me to tie their shoes and brush their hair have now grown into young ladies capable of extraordinary things. Being able to witness this growth is one of the greatest privileges of all.

A decade has passed since that nerve-wracking day and although the teddy bear still remains, my perspective of camp has changed tenfold. Free from the world of small digital screens and ongoing pressures, Starlight allowed me to be the person that was fighting to break free. At Starlight, I am an athlete, a performer, a leader, and a friend. No feat is too small or too challenging to overcome when you know that you have a support network of hundreds of people behind you. Through the vast changes and turns that have happened in my life, Starlight has remained a powerful constant.

As I sit in my accounting class and recognize how fast summer number eleven approaches, I am filled with an anxious feeling again. Except, this time, it is not a nervous anxiety at all. It’s that overwhelming feeling of excitement where you know that this summer will be even better then the last. That familiar feeling that Starlight has given me since the first time I saw the place that I am privileged to call my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to survive digital detox at camp

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 10.25.44 AMAh, another summer out at camp. The twinkle of stars on a clear night. The whistle of the wind in the trees. The splashing of campers jumping in the lake.

One thing you won’t be hearing, though: the gentle “plink” of Facebook notifications. Summer camp means digital detox!

Depending on how technology-dependant a camper or counselor is, that’s either great news or cause for concern. Well, don’t worry: even if you miss checking Instagram every five seconds, you’re bound to benefit from a little analog me-time. After all, countless studies have shown that constant social media and internet exposure can have negative effects on things like concentration, memory, and even basic happiness.

So here are a few tips for keeping sane without your phone in your pocket.

Keep a journal

Journaling is your number-one weapon in the fight against digital withdrawal, and people have been using journaling as a way of reflecting on their day long before Facebook’s “what’s on your mind” prompt or Twitter’s “What’s happening?”

Think of it as a Facebook update for your future self.

Write letters or postcards

We often seem to forget that email isn’t the only way to keep in touch. Finding a real-life piece of snail mail in the mailbox brings a smile to anyone’s day, and it doesn’t have to take long to do: just scrawl a quick doodle and a “miss you!” on a postcard and drop it in the camp mail. Done!

Tip: bring a stack of postcards pre-stamped and preaddressed with you to camp and you’re one step ahead of the game. All you have to do is write what’s on your mind and let it go; just like email!

Stay in the moment

Staying in the moment is easier said than done. Being able to “just check up on emails” anytime you don’t have something to do quickly turns phones into social crutches for a lot of people.

11539072_10152902437221960_8957652597744731094_oCamp offers you a chance to let that bad habit go — and when you can’t look at your phone during down time, you will find yourself making real connections with the people around you. Next time you want to share “what’s on your mind,” try sharing your thoughts with a person instead of your Facebook.

There’s a time and place for social media, but trust me; you’ll be surprised at what you find when you connect with the people around you first. All you have to do is say “hi!”

How Camp Teaches You To Always Plan Ahead

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Going to summer camp is more than just an unforgettable week away from home with your friends — it’s also an investment in your skills, character, and future. Summer camp teaches every camper a slew of critical life skills including organization, leadership, and time management.

Here are just a few of the ways campers learn to plan ahead while enjoying the fun and games at Camp Starlight!

Navigating camp activities

11411756_10152924528446960_8550865432487014513_oPracticing how to plan time for cleanup, getting around camp between activities, and bringing the things you need to complete each activity doesn’t just prepare campers for sports, crafts, and sailing — it prepares them for the hectic pace of life outside camp, from school all the way to college!

Days at summer camp tend to be packed with activities, from waking up at dawn to falling asleep at dusk, and being on time for each of your activities ensures that you will have enough time to have the maximum fun possible. Learning to balance so many activities in a busy day is certainly one of camp’s biggest challenges, but with a little bit of practice everyone gets the hang of it.

After a full camp schedule, your school schedule will probably feel easy. After all, getting from one class to the next isn’t nearly as difficult as making it all the way from the archery range to the arts and crafts center!

Planning Skits and Talent Shows

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.30.52 AMMost campers choose to participate in either a skit or a talent show at some point during their session. Usually, skits and talents are created and practiced during free time and rest periods. Campers have to find a time in their daily schedule to plan their skit, create props, and practice with other campers.

The incremental process of preparing performances helps campers build experience planning group projects and break down large, complex homework assignments into more manageable pieces, so they can complete a little each day.

Counselors love helping campers plan for skits, because it’s a chance to teach important life lessons about approaching a challenge. The secret to camp performances is taking one small step at a time.

Completing a Cookout

Cooking out over a campfire involves quite a bit of planning. Not only do you have to decide on a meal and order your ingredients from the kitchen ahead of time, but you have to divide cooking tasks such as food prep and fire tending between your group and make sure you start early enough for your meal to be served on schedule. Being a cook is hard! (But super rewarding, especially over a traditional open fire.)

Your cookout experience will teach you to value the importance of planning your projects in detail before you start them. While most of your school projects will not end with a tasty, fire-cooked meal, the feeling of accomplishment after detailed planning will no doubt remind you of your camp experiences.

Looking to the future

Camp is filled with experiences that teach campers to plan ahead. From keeping your bunk clean (for the sake of your roomies!) to completing challenges in a ropes course, you will have plenty of opportunities to create plans and see the results of your effort.

While not everything may work out the first time — it’s not a big deal to be late to an activity or burn your dinner once in a while — you will eventually learn what type of planning works for you, and be able to apply your experiences to the rest of your life. Campers love to live in the moment, but they always have one eye on the future. With a little bit of planning, every second of camp is a blast!

9 Things I bet you didn’t know about being a Junior Camper

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

unnamedAs told through the eyes of someone who is glad to know…

By Dena Weiner Junior Girls Division Leader

As you prepare to send your son or daughter off to camp for his or her first summer, you must have so many things rolling around in your head. What will camp be like? How will they thrive without me? Will they make new friends? So many of the things you may be concerned about, turn into the triumphs of a new camper. What you will learn after a few phone calls, vague letters and tight “No, I won’t let go” hugs on Visiting Day, is that the independence they gain will be the most important thing they bring home.

So what are nine things they will learn at Camp Starlight this summer? Let’s start with the first day they get off the bus.

I bet you didn’t know that….

…as soon as their feet touch the grass, they are immediately welcomed by hugs, cheers and circles of new friends. This teaches children that camp is fun and friends are all around us. They also learn that the adults at camp are always their biggest cheerleaders away from home.

…camp is not only a place for kids, but there are others that live on the beautiful hills and lake of camp and they are happy to share their habitat with a zip code worth of people. Camp’s canopy is nothing short of amazing. Every child will take at least one nature hike. On this hike they learn about the flora and fauna of this incredible scenery. They will learn to appreciate what they see and they might even learn to hug a tree, save a spider or listen to the sounds that surround us.

…teeth will get brushed. It might seem like an impossible task to get 10 eight year olds to brush their teeth twice each day, but somehow this mission of importance commences each morning and night. Somehow counselors find time to brush hair, wash faces and hands. Eventually these “chores” become badges of personal growth.

…everyone finds something to eat at camp. Even the pickiest of eaters finds something to enjoy. Sitting down to a meal with a family of friends is a valuable experience that creates something magical. Children learn that talking about your day, setting table routines and having a place to just come together creates an environment that is hard to replicate. It is this feeling of give and take that helps children calmly break bread.

…they will make a new friend at camp. It will probably not be the person you expected. As parents we spend so much time planning their social calendars that we structure their friendships. At camp they get to choose who makes them smile and laugh. It is such a valuable component to being a new camper in a safe and supported place. It teaches them how to seek out the qualities in another person that are important to them. It is these friendships that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

…new interests will be developed. You might hear your son or daughter tell you that they like playing guitar, doing magic, hurling a lacrosse ball or sewing. They spend 10 months dabbling in extra-curricular activities and 2 months choosing other ones. Where else are you going to learn how to water ski? Every day’s excursions are priceless events. Trying new things teaches children to expect the unexpected and thrive outside out of their comfort zones.

…sunscreen gets applied, nails get clipped, knots get untangled scrapes get cleaned up. Even the Tooth Fairy comes to camp. Children learn that other people besides their moms and dads care for them too. Camp Starlight has lots of “mom & dads.” They are the people who make sure that no stone is left unturned and every need is met.

… sleep happens. Reluctant sleepers who crawl into your beds at night learn how to be self-soothers. Call it exhaustion from a long fun day or excitement for tomorrow’s surprises, but when the head OD checks in to make sure that bunks are quiet and asleep, they really are. Not a peep is heard except the sweet snores of mouth breathers. Children learn that they can put themselves to bed and this precious lesson is worth more than gold.

…talking face-to-face instead of through snaps, texts and instas is possible and fun. Face time will have a whole new meaning. Jacks and knock hockey will be played, songs will be sung and your child will learn to exist without an electronic device. They will even learn to remember fun times without a selfie.

What do these 9 lessons add up to? The self-sufficiency they learn becomes their self-esteem. How long can we cut their steak for them, scrub the shampoo out of their hair or buckle their seatbelts? They have to learn how to do these things by themselves. Remember how much we clapped and cheered when they took their first steps? Remember how much they clapped for themselves? We celebrated their independence. Camp parallels this experience. So as you unpack a summer’s worth of dirty socks in August, think about the steps those socks took. After the laundry is washed, the towels put away and the woodworking projects displayed on the mantel, the one thing that you won’t see in their trunks is their personal growth. You will notice it over time. Your eight year old will ask you for stuffed shells for dinner, they might call a friend in another state, they will brush their teeth without being nagged, and they might even clear their own plates. Consider these priceless gifts as you get them ready for the best summer of their lives!

The benefits of Camp- A parent’s perspective!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.00.51 PMIn a world of Wiis, Xbox ones and 360s, nothing is better than real “whee’s” on the zipline, one on ones with friends and the 360 views your kids will get when they attend summer camp. Unplug your kids and find out how they can benefit. It’s an invaluable experience that allows them to develop the skills they need to become confident kids.

As hard as it is to send my boys off to camp each year, I know it’s the best thing for them. I’m the type of Mom who wants to be with them all summer long. I love re-living my childhood through their eyes. But summers away, teach them to believe in themselves. They gain more than just experiences, adventures and new best friends, summer camp instills positive behaviors that carry over into adulthood.

SELF RELIANCE

When my kids go to summer camp, they become more confident. Without my husband and I there to guide their every move, they make more decisions on their own and start to trust their own instincts. Camp is the perfect place for them to do this, in a safe environment that nurtures individual growth and development. When kids learn to make choices on their own, it gives them a sense of self worth and sets them up for success in the real world.

RESILIANCE

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.00.34 PMCamp is no different that it is at home or school. Things happen. You child didn’t get to be on the team he’d hoped, friends are acting unfairly, or your child didn’t get picked for a group project. That’s just how it is. At camp, my kids have had several issues like this but they’ve learned to accept that life isn’t always perfect. Knowing they must rely on their own problem solving skills helps them adapt and grow. I like to say, they’ve started discovering their own “know-how”. This allows them to be strong in difficult situations at camp and when they return home.

RESPECT

Your child isn’t going to like everyone at camp and not everyone is going to like your child. There are a lot of personalities to deal with. My sons have learned that no matter the differences they may have with others, they have to treat everyone like they want to be treated. Learning how to be flexible and mindful of others feelings, promotes good working relationships among peers and adults. Learning tolerance and being accepting of others, are skills they’ve taken away from their stay, that go beyond just the summer.

LEADERSHIP

Summer camp is all about encouraging kids to step outside their comfort zone and face their fears. This builds character. When you pair character with confidence and helping others, kids learn to become leaders. They thrive in an environment where they’re given the opportunity to help someone else learn something new and teach what maybe they learned the year before. My kids have become noticeably more self-confident and independent and come home with the attitude of wanting to help others.

What to Expect Your First Summer as a Camp Counselor

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.52.13 PMThinking about what you’ll be doing next summer already? If you loved camp as a kid or are now too old to attend Camp Starlight as a camper, think about applying to be a camp counselor at Camp Starlight! Running a successful camp depends mostly on our camp staff.

  1. Being a counselor is the toughest job you’ll ever love! You’re there to work, most likely harder than you ever have in your life. You’re also there to reconnect with the campers and your fellow counselors, form friendships, and make memories!

 

  1. Get ready to be excited about everything! From Ms Starlight to Olympics, teaching skills to singing camp songs, campers feed off of your energy! You are their role model for the entire summer (or at least part of it), so remember that your campers are always watching you to see your reactions. If you’re excited, chances are they’ll be excited too (even about laundry). Make it fun!

 

  1. At Camp Starlight, time moves quickly! When you arrive at camp for orientation in June, you’ll find yourself thinking “August is so far away! I have plenty of time!” The next thing you know it’s the middle of July! It’s important to be present and live in the moment with our campers. It’s the best way to make the most out of your experience over the summer!

 

  1. There is no “typical” day at Camp Starlight. At a 9-5 job, you may have a set routine. This might get boring! Don’t worry- at Camp Starlight things are always changing! We’re always adding new activities and switching up schedules to keep things fresh for campers. Of course, there will be a small routine to your day: staff meetings, teaching various skills, and meals but other than that, come prepared for change daily!

 

  1. You’ll be competitive about everything. From making the best friendship bracelets to lawn games against other groups, everything you do will be weirdly competitive. Even if it doesn’t have to be. This is one of the ways your group shows pride! So, reveal in it and pump your campers up!

 

  1. Get ready to become a craft master. Even if you came to Camp Starlight not knowing how to tie a knot, by the end of the summer you’ll be a bracelet making master!

 

  1. You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone. This helps you grow! For example, you may be able to avoid some of your fears (of swimming, heights, etc), but you might not be able to get out of being put in the spotlight at one point or another during the season. Revel in it; it’s not too scary!

 

  1. Get ready to embrace your inner athletic side, even if you don’t think you have one! We love games at Camp Starlight, so don’t think you can get away with not participating! Give it your all, and you’ll find that it’s fun! Even if you don’t, do it for your campers!

 

  1. You’ll lose track of days. During your time at camp, you’ll almost never know what day it is. And it doesn’t really matter (as long as you’re not late for a meal or a scheduled activity!). Part of enjoying camp is completely immersing yourself in it!

 

  1. Expect to leave Camp Starlight changed in some way. This summer will have a profound impact on you: the way you live your life, what you care about, and the way you see others. You may not even realize it, but summers at camp will change you for the better!

 

Ready to apply? Visit campstarlight.com/StaffExperience! We hope to see you next summer!

4 Constellations visible from Camp Starlight and how to find them

Monday, September 28th, 2015

UntitledLights out doesn’t have to mean the fun is over; after all, Camp Starlight is the perfect place for stargazing! All you need is a clear sky, a few tips and pointers, and of course a helpful counselor.

Once you figure out how to find the north star, it’s a slippery slope to becoming an astronomy expert. Who wouldn’t want to be knowledgeable about this beautiful universe of ours?

Here are four of the easiest constellations to locate during the summer months at Camp Starlight, and how to find them.

The Big Dipper

For many aspiring astronomers, the big dipper is the first constellation they ever discover. The Big Dipper is visible all year round, making it a dependable friend even if you aren’t an astronomy master.

The distinctive dipper or ladle shape is hard to miss, since it’s composed of a few of the brightest stars in the sky. Take a look at the shape in the picture below; this is what you’re looking for.

bd

Image source: http://www.instructables.com/

 

Found it? Awesome!

Beyond being dependable, the Big Dipper is your secret key to the celestial world. Once you can find the Big Dipper, you can use it to pinpoint many other constellations.

Now let’s use the Big Dipper to find our next constellation: the Great Bear.

The Great Bear

The Big Dipper is actually part of the Great Bear, so if you’ve already located that elusive ladle then you’re literally halfway there. Hint: the handle of the dipper is the tail of the bear.

Look for the brightest stars directly forward from the dipper part of the Big Dipper to find the bear’s head, and extend downwards from the dipper’s bottom to find the bear’s legs. Can you spy the Big Dipper in this picture?

  Image source: https://misfitsandheroes.wordpress.com/


Image source: https://misfitsandheroes.wordpress.com/

The Little Dipper

The Big Dipper isn’t done helping us; we’re also going to use it to help us find its smaller but no less important sibling, the Little Dipper!

Find the two stars that make the “front” of the Big Dipper and draw a line with your imagination upwards. The brightest star in that line is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.

Image source: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/

Image source: http://astrobob.areavoices.com/

The Little Dipper is much fainter than the big dipper, and if any wispy clouds are hanging around it might be quite tricky to find. But there is a reward! That bright star forming the end of the Little Dipper’s handle is none other than Polaris, the north star.

If you can get this far, you have everything you need to find your way in the wilderness. North is always the direction of the North Star, which is why sailors used to be so concerned with astronomy in the old days. Pat yourself on the back!

Draco

Everyone loves dragons, so let’s finish by finding the dragon constellation, Draco. We can use the Little Dipper as a reference point, just like we did before.

The snakey part of Draco wraps around the spoon part of the Little Dipper in a giant “s” shape, leading up to the “head” of the dragon — a suspiciously ladle-like four-point star formation, as you can see in the shape here:

11111111

Image source: http://www.rocketmime.com/

Show off your new astronomy skills to your friends!

Astronomy is like everything else at camp: challenging, but rewarding. And most importantly, tons of fun.

The best part about these four constellations is that they’re visible all year around. Be sure to show your friends at camp, or if you’re a counselor, be sure to teach your campers. That way they can take their newfound astronomy skills away with them and show their friends at home!

When they ask where you learned something so cool, you can just say, “at Camp Starlight.”

Big Easy Blues

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 4.52.05 PMThe day began well for the Blue team, starting 115 points up and with an uplifting Billy Madison reference by General Ben Kadel. As the day progressed Big Easy Blues fought as White Madness attempted to ease the lead.

In the Upper Plebe Gamma game, Cooper G. and Kyle F. both caught several touchdown passes. Even with their impact, Blue was overpowered by Abe W. and lost 70-54. This afternoon the Junior Gamma hockey game was decided by just one goal and it was the Blue team that had it. With time running out, Owen G. scored our team’s sixth goal and then ended the chance of a comeback by White. Tonight is rope burn, one of the most exciting nights of camp, our Seniors look to continue our impressive run and improve our lead.

Star Camps

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.43.13 AMCamp Starlight was full of excitement as our campers participated in their favorite Starcamps. This special part of our program gives campers the chance to focus on one area of interest for two days. Campers get to work closely with our guest coaches and instructors, as well as our entire Starlight staff, who bring all sorts of skills to the table, from basketball to painting.

This year Camp Starlight had some incredible individuals leading Star Camps. Campers had the opportunity to learn hip-hop from the impressive Larry Albright.. At our sporting sessions, campers were able to learn hockey from hockey pro Bob Markowick, and tennis from Tennis star Mel Purcell. And there were tons of other sports workshops, too! From lacrosse, to golf, to water skiing and Krav Maga, campers had the chance to enjoy all sorts of sports activities. Campers were also able to rock climb, golf, and hike. But it’s not just sports that campers were excited about, campers were also able to enjoy Starcamps in: acting, photographing, arts and crafts, and other creative preforming arts. And for the first time ever students were able to make and mix their own music at our music workshop, which was held in our brand new music recording studio! It was another great year at Starcamps thanks to our amazing kids and great staff.