Posts Tagged ‘kids summer camp’

It is OK to Act Your Own Age – How camp allows kids and young adults to enjoy being young

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Many first time parents are guilty of rushing their babies from one milestone to the next, pushing them to sit then crawl then walk, while seasoned parents have learned to appreciate each step and understand how fast each stage flies by. As kids grow, they too can find themselves wishing their childhood away, always wishing they were older and on to the next stage of their lives. In this fast-paced world, kids are hurrying through the most joyful times of their lives in pursuit of freedom and independence, and before they know it they’re paying bills and reminiscing about “the good ‘ol days”

 

Camp strives to meet kids right where they are; to embrace their innocence, their goofy-ness, their awkwardness and their curiosity. Camp is a safe place for kids to act like kids without the fear of being judged. Camp Starlight is serious about fun, and has become a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. Instead of taking selfies and worrying about where they fit in with their peers, they are chasing lightning bugs, judging belly flop contests, singing songs around a fire, and putting on shows. They are being kids, which is exactly how they should be spending their summers.

And kids aren’t the only ones acting like kids. Camp counselors come back year after year because of the freedom and joy that comes from being at camp. Camp counselors use their summers at camp as a way to escape the rules and restrictions of adulthood and embrace their inner child. They play games, dress up, sing songs and fully engage with the campers every day. They use this time to free themselves from the ridged expectations of their everyday lives and participate in the activities that make them feel like a kid again.

 

The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. With clubs, sports, family obligations and school expectations, kids can bogged down with responsibilities that takes the fun out of being a kid. Although a healthy balance of work and play is vital for growing minds, the summer should be a time where kids can relax a little and enjoy this fleeting time of their lives. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, getting dirty, trying new things and being silly. And that is exactly what Camp Starlight aims to offer each and every camper.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in the moment at Camp Starlight

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.24.49 PMIt was midway through the fifth week of summer camp that I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.

…Or what week it was.

And you know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy for months.

After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?

Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.

After a long school year of classes and homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.25.35 PM“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.

…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — and to keep my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.

Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. In fact, living in the moment is pretty much the default at camp. There simply isn’t much to worry about, and it’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.

So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!

However, that isn’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the thing you’re rushing to get to being a ton of fun!

There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying that “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!

Honestly, the only calendar any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We had learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!

Baseball fever at summer camp

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.39.07 PMBaseball. The crowd going wild while a player steals home. The smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the bleachers. Afternoons playing catch with the family at the park. Generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game.

Much like summer camp, baseball is something that many of us take for granted as a part of our childhood. Few activities come close to being so… well, American. Baseball and summer camp are as close to our hearts as flag, family, and country.

…So it should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most intensely anticipated activities, with campers going wild year after year, debating over particularly clever plays well past the last activity and into the evening.

So what is it that makes baseball so special?

“The thinking person’s sport”

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.38.57 PMEveryone has their theories around here at camp, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, is a thinking sport. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the adrenaline comes from chaos, and each player is constantly making split-second decisions.

Baseball, on the other hand, requires more planning for the future. Half the game is spent between plays, with players huddled in circles determining their best bets. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead, and to enjoy waiting for the fun parts of life. As it turns out, anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.

Taking time to reflect

Interestingly, many of the campers most excited about baseball at camp aren’t actually players at school. Baseball is their top pick at camp, and meanwhile they play soccer or lacrosse for their teams back at home.

It’s hard to say why this is, but it may be that the leisurely pace of the game is better suited to camp, where campers have a chance to think ahead and reflect in ways that the hectic school year schedule often doesn’t allow. Baseball requires concentration and focus, both of which come easier in a supportive environment like camp where everyone has plenty of time to look inwards — and of course, no homework to keep them distracted!

Room to breath

Everyone needs a little room to breath when they think towards the future. Room to breath is something that camp and baseball have in common. They show us that you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Sometimes, it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. After all, you’ll be using that time to get ready.

…When your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!

7 reasons summer campers would win “The Hunger Games”

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.44.57 PMIt’s hard not to imagine yourself in the world of “The Hunger Games” when you watch the film’s star Katniss running through the forest on the big screen, and for summer campers the themes of friendship, family and on-point archery skills ring especially true. Everyone has their own strategy they would use if they were a contestant in “The Hunger Games.” How would summer campers fare? From archery practice to camping skills, here are 7 reasons campers would definitely win:

1. Because they use teamwork

Campers know better than anybody that teamwork increases the odds of winning a game — and guarantees a fair share of fun even if “winning” isn’t in the cards. Being comfortable working on a team and trusting in others to pull their fair share takes guts, whether you’re fighting for your family in the Hunger Games or fighting for an extra marshmallow at a campfire challenge.

2. Because they know how to hit a bullseye

What do medieval knights, futuristic Hunger Game contestants and summer campers all have in common? That’s right — unbeatable archery skills! Katniss might get a run for her money if she participated in a camp archery competition, because let me tell you — some campers are seriously sharp shooters. Knowing how to use a bow and arrow is a rare skill in this day and age, but it’s no mystery to campers.

3. Because they’re resourceful

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.42.27 PMOne of the biggest challenges of The Hunger Games is making do with what you have, and using elbow grease and creativity to solve problems. Campers spend all day practicing these skills and learning to have fun in the great outdoors without high-tech smartphones and game systems. Then when it’s time for theater and skits, campers use their imaginations to bring the adventure to life. Needless to say, being resourceful in the Games would be no problem for campers.

4. Because they know how to camp out

As if being on the run and fighting death-defying odds weren’t enough, the contestants of the Hunger Games also have to survive for days on end in the wilderness — sleeping under the stars, making shelters out of branches, and always planning ahead so they have access to their basic necessities.

 

Luckily there’s no risk of such troubles at summer camp, but campers still get to practice the fun side of wilderness survival skills. From learning to start campfires to exploring the habitats of wildlife in nature, exposure to the skills needed to have a blast in the great outdoors is a huge part of camp life. Regardless of experience, all campers get a chance to experience the life-affirming power of an outdoor camping experience.

 

…And of course, everyone at Camp Starlight knows where the North Star is! So navigation is no problem.

5. Because they know how to be a leader

Leadership is the quality that makes Katniss special in “The Hunger Games,” and it’s also one of the most important qualities taught at summer camp — how to be brave and volunteer when help is needed, and how to take charge when you know that something needs to be done.

6. Because they trust each other

Trust games are a staple of summer camp, and a belief in the power of team building carries summer campers far as they grow up and enter “the real world.” Anybody who’s done a trust fall knows it’s one of the scariest things you can do — and also the most liberating, because once you believe in your peers you can learn to truly believe in yourself. In the world of “The Hunger Games,” Katniss almost lost many times simply by second-guessing her allies, and the fact that trust ultimately brought them together is one of the film’s most inspiring messages.

7. Because they’re loyal to their friends

Last but not least, the biggest and best part of camp life: friendship. It’s friendship that saves Katniss and her friends at the end of the film, and it’s friendship that brings campers back to summer camp, again and again, year after year. Katniss shows that she’s willing to give everything for her friends and family. Campers learn that friendship isn’t just about taking — it’s about giving back, volunteering, and always being ready to help others.

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.

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.”

5 Signs That You’re Campsick and Miss Camp Starlight!

Monday, August 31st, 2015

1. You Can’t Stop Singing Camp Starlight Songs

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Have you been caught randomly singing a camp song in public? If you’ve become a walking camp jukebox, chances are you’re missing Camp Starlight a lot more than you know. But hey, where’s the harm in introducing some of your favorite camp songs to your school friends? “Friends, friends, friends….”

2. You Won’t Take Any of Your Friendship Bracelets Off

giphy (1)

What do you mean I have to eventually cut these off? Let’s face it, those colorful pieces of thread wrapped around your wrist signify every friendship you made while at Camp Starlight and the thought of getting rid of them is just too hard. That’s okay though, more are to be made next summer!

3. You Wake Up In The Morning And Ask Your Mom What Time You Have Water Skiing

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Sigh, there’s no disappointment equivalent to waking up in the morning expecting a nice water skiing session on the lake, but being told that it’s actually time for school.

4. You’re Always Craving a S’more After School

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Forget the ice cream! There’s nothing that beats the gooey deliciousness of a s’more right after a long day of math equations. They may be known as a Camp Starlight delicacy, but why not treat yourself to one as you reminisce over your favorite camp memories?

5. You’re Sooo Bored!
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Yes, it is nice to sleep in and not wake up to the sound of the bugle. It is also nice to have a break from all the activities throughout the day. However, it is just soooo boring being back at home.  Who doesn’t miss having your friends around 24/7.  

Missing our friends!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Kids, Clothes, and Chaos

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We came across this blog and got a really good chuckle out of it.  Since we’ve rounded that corner into April and the “waiting to pack” countdown has officially begun, we can’t resist sharing it with you.  We would like to thank Lisa, the original author, for her permission to reprint it…

I am fortunate enough to be able to send my two older children to sleepaway camp.  It is a fantastic learning, growing and maturing experience – for me and them!  My kids learn that the world still turns if they wear clothes that don’t match or the same shirt 4 days in a row, or what it’s like to meet new people, watch themselves become independent beings and experience things they never could at home (we don’t have a lake in our backyard or a kiln in the kitchen).

That said, there’s a lot of waiting involved with camp.  It all starts with the waiting-to-pack time period.  It’s incredible how much stuff needs to be stuffed inside of the trunks that are taken to camp.  Ok, first off, let’s not date ourselves to when they were actual black with gold rivet trunks – they’re really just duffle bags.  Granted, huge, enormous, can hold at least 4 grown men duffles, but duffle bags nevertheless.  And these duffles sit in my bedroom for weeks until they are actually picked up and taken away (given that we don’t have an extra bedroom and my husband and I’s room has the most space).  So I wait as long as possible to unearth them from where they are stashed all winter to reduce the number of nights I can possibly slip, roll and kill myself on an errant battery or sunscreen stick that has escaped the double layered ziploc bag in which it was stored.  Aside from my general safety, I have to wait to pack because nothing pisses me off more than putting items inside the bags and crossing them off my checklist, only to be asked the next morning by one of my chidlren if they can wear that shirt, jersey, soccer cleat, you name it, one last time.  So, although I have a few friends that are happy to feel organized starting this process in February for a June pick-up, I’ll stick with the wait-until-the-last-minute crunch time way that seems to work best for us.

But the waiting doesn’t end with the pick-up of the bags.  No siree.  Then there’s the parking lot send-off where the parents stand in the middle of an open parking lot in midday.  Blinking, shielding their eyes in the glaring heat (even behind the giant black Jackie-O glasses bought for the occasion) at a tinted window to try to catch a last glimpse of their child while trying to choke back emotion to “put on a good front”.  Inevitably, there’s a late-comer who was stuck in traffic so us parents are left standing like beauty pageant idiots waving and waiting, waving and waiting.

Once the bus pulls away then the wait for the first online picture begins.  Can you say refresh button?  You never know when new pics will be posted… And of course, the first letter (hopefully with no circled tear droplets or talk of homesickness and hitching a ride home) and the first phone call.  Visiting Day can never arrive quickly enough and as soon as you pull away from camp, the countdown to their homecoming begins.  And then there’s the the daily wait for the mailman in the hopes he brings some small tidbit of a literary connection.

Key thing to note (and I learned this the hard way the first summer my kids were away), is that my summer life is what happens in between all this waiting.  So although I miss them terribly each summer and usually have several countdowns going at once, I also recognize that the countdown to the hectic long days of the school year with homework, carpooling, sports practices and coordination of schedules is also going on during these precious and fleeting summer weeks.

So I’m trying to appreciate the waiting.  And dare I say, enjoy it.  Because before you know it, we’ll all have to endure the longest wait of all… when summer ends and we wait until next summer to do it all over again.

Lisa