Posts Tagged ‘preparing for summer camp’


Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Every year, Camps send out packing lists with suggestions of what and how much to pack.  It’s important to stick to the packing list, since the lists are normally catered to your specific camp! Camp Directors have been sending out these lists for years, and make sure to update them according to what they know works for their campers! Here are the Top 5 Reasons to pack according to the packing list!

5.) Space is limited at camp! While your child may have their own room, closet and bathroom at home, at camp they are going to have to share these spaces. Your child will be living in a bunk with several other campers, as well as  several counselors.

4.) Required Items vs. Optional Items! There are going to be some items that are absolutely required, and you don’t want to be leaving those out of your child’s trunks. Uniformed Camp logoed T-shirts for specific events during camp are usually required. Optional items are generally items that are provided by camp, but some campers prefer to bring their own equipment such as lacrosse helmets.

3.) You don’t want to over pack! You know how when you go on vacation, you always seem to have more things to put fit in your suitcase than when you arrived. Well the same thing happens at camp! You want to be sure to leave a little room in those camp trunks for the end of the summer, so all of their projects & souvenirs from trips can make it home safely.

2.) Labels, Labels, Labels! There are A LOT of kids at camp, and a lot kids bring very similar, if not the same items. This is why everything brought to camp MUST be labeled. We know that you don’t want your child to lose anything at camp and this is the best way to prevent that from happening.

1.) Check what items are not permitted in camp! You want to be sure your camper doesn’t bring any items that are not allowed in camp. Along with what to pack, your packing list normally will have a list of prohibited items that should not come to camp with your child.

An Ode to Bunk Junk: Less is More.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Have you ever walked into your child’s room or playroom and thought, “What happened, did a tornado come through here?” So cluttered, so messy that you can’t even think straight?  We try our hardest at Camp Starlight to not let the “Bunk Junk tornado” run through our bunks.

A small amount of Bunk Junk is great! Games to play during rest hour in the bunk, stationary to write home with, books to read, Rainbow looms or friendship bracelet kits.  Each camper has a designated spot for all of these items, and it’s under their bed. At Starlight, all bunk junk must be able to fit into a specific sized “Underbed Box” to keep bunks clean and organized. When campers bring too much Bunk Junk, it becomes an unorganized mess. Inevitably games, toys, and letters can get lost, broken, or accidentally thrown away during a massive clean out of the dark abyss of their underbed.

When you send your campers trunks up, make sure all of their bunk junk can fit, neatly, into the “Underbed Box.” This includes sticker books, rainbow loom/string boxes, stationary sets, and dress up clothes! And don’t forget to think twice about if your child will actually use the items you are sending. In the realm of packing Bunk Junk, use the golden rule: Less is Definitely More.

Countdowns and Stuff

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

For the millions of youth who call summer camp home each summer, excitement begins to grow exponentially just after spring break each year. Not only is the end of another school year just around the corner, but the beginning of another camp season is oh so close that campers can practically smell the campfires. A variety of countdowns help them keep track of just how many sleeps are left until they’re back in their bunks or cabins and reunited with camp friends. Oh, of course there are the literal countdowns of exactly how many days, minutes, and hours are left that are featured on many summer camp apps and websites. But kids tend to be a bit more creative than website designers when it comes to countdowns and pre-camp rituals.

Parents may be a bit mystified, for example, when they’re handed a pillowcase, blanket, towel, etc. that campers have conveniently kept out of the laundry basket for the past several months because it “smells like camp.” For campers, this is just the release of one summer as part of the final preparation stages for the next. For parents, it’s a good reason not to send the good pillowcases to camp.

The amount of times the word camp finds its words into a conversation—and sometimes even a single sentence—steadily starts to rise again.  Maybe there is justsomething about seeing green, or maybe it’s the warmer days. Whatever the motivating factor, after a graduating dipping off during the coldest winter months, with the arrival of spring comes the re-integration of camp lingo into everyday speech. Parents need not become frustrated, children are usually happy to translate until someone gets around to writing that all important Camp Dictionary for Parents Who Want to Know What Their Campers Are Saying.

Some campers measure the time left until camp by the amount of episodes remaining before the season finale of their favorite television shows and then the number of weeknights they have to endure with nothing on television but reruns to watch until camp starts. Still, others prefer the exam approach and countdown their time until camp by the number of tests remaining in the school year. (Note: Some counselors use both of these approaches as well.)

Clever Apple users countdown with SIRI and hold daily conversations with her about camp. Others like to plan ahead even further into the summer by making out their Visiting Day snack lists, just in case they get too busy to do so after they get to camp. Countdowns are rarely a matter of just plain counting down when it comes to camp. Like camp itself, they’re full of ritual and meaning.

5 Things for Camp Parents to begin Thinking about in the Spring

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

March is here, which means spring is just around the corner. More importantly, summer is only a few months away, which means it’s time to begin checking off that annual camp preparation list. No doubt, the idea that it’s time to begin thinking about summer is a welcome respite for many following a winter that regularly included terms such as “polar vortex.” So whether you’re preparing your children for their first summer at camp, or are still thawing out after a frigid winter, here are five things to think about as the snow begins to melt, temperatures begin to rise and vegetation blooms:

1.)    Order camp clothes. Some camps feature catalogues and websites that cater to supply lists and sell logo merchandise. Although most camps do not require parents to order supplies and clothing from these catalogues, a few items are never a bad idea, particularly for children who intend to be part of sports teams. Also, camps sometimes require children to wear a specific colored logo shirt on certain occasions, such as out of camp trips. These clothing catalogs are the best resources for these items.

2.)    Start talking about camp. For returning campers, chances are that they’ve never completely stopped talking about it. It’s good, however, to begin preparing first time campers a few months ahead of camp so that they are not completely overwhelmed when departure time for camp actually arrives. For all campers – returning or not – it’s good to set some goals for the summer. Some parents find that their children are a step ahead of them when it comes to goal setting, while other campers need a bit of assistance with organizing their thoughts and prioritizing. Either way, it’s good to begin a dialogue now so that you and your children have time to think about expectations for the summer.

3.)    Begin stockpiling. Some parents actually pull out camp duffels and begin packing in the early spring while others just clear off a shelf in a closet and begin picking up basic supplies such as sunscreen, shampoo, and socks whenever they are out shopping. Gradually building a stockpile prevents that last minute scramble that inevitably ends in a phone call either from or to the camp about forgotten items.

4.)    Schedule pre-camp checkups. This is particularly crucial if your child’s pediatrician tends to be one that is perpetually booked and scheduling appointments a month or two into the future. Camps are safety focused, and it’s is very important that they understand each and every camper’s medical needs and limitations. For liability reasons, they also need medical and insurance information prior to being able to permit campers to participate in certain activities, such as out of camp trips. Also, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor about any medications that will be necessary for the summer.

5.)    Complete paperwork. Camps mail or make necessary forms available online to parents around this time of year. The forms may include information about trips, interests, goals, children’s personalities, etc. Although the purpose of the paperwork may not always be clear, camps put a lot of thought and consideration into the information they request parents to provide, and that information is crucial to facilitating a successful summer for campers. Since this task can seem daunting in the midst of those last minute preparations just before camp, it’s a good idea to set aside a block of time early in the spring to complete forms.

New Year, New Summer

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

There comes a point for everyone involved with camp when we finally stop wishing for it to still be last summer and begin looking forward to this summer. The beginning of the new year is the perfect time for this. The new year is a time of new beginnings for most people and, although that long list of resolutions most of us start out with in January has already been all but forgotten by the time the first spring blooms begin to peep out of the ground, there is always the promise of camp. January starts that final countdown toward summer. We’re finally in the year 2014, and it is only a matter of months before we arrive at the Summer of 2014.  And a fast six months it always is! We spend cold winter evenings watching our camp videos or reading our camp newsletters. We attend camp reunions and follow our camp Facebook pages. By spring we’ve ordered all of our new camp gear and are eagerly awaiting for it to arrive.  We start to set goals for the summer with our camp friends. Then we blink, and it’s May. It’s time to start packing! School ends and the countdown is down to days…days that seem to take longer than all of the months we’ve waited put together. But it comes, the new summer of the new year, faster than we ever thought it would a year ago.

A Very Successful New Camper Day!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The sun was high and bright over Camp Starlight during Visiting Day yesterday, and the campus was teeming with a crew of enthusiastic new campers and their families.  Everyone started gathering in front of the Office early in the morning.  The day officially kicked off with a welcome brunch followed by games.  Then an exciting scavenger hunt ensued that took campers all over the Starlight campus as they got to learn the lay of the land.   Later, new campers got to enjoy their very first option period.  It was hard to believe the day was already almost over when everyone sat down to an indoor cookout.  Following the meal, everyone said their farewells for now and departed.  It was sad to see everyone leave so soon, but after a day of getting to know the newest members of the Camp Starlight family, we’re even more excited for June 23rd to get here!

The Other Packing List

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

It’s hard to believe that spring is here and camp is only a couple of months away.  If you haven’t started shopping around for packing list items already, chances are you’ll begin doing so soon.  Of course, every parent is aware of what’s on the official list.  But there is another packing list for camp, the unofficial one that includes items that come in handy for showing spirit, dressing up, birthday celebrations, and just taking advantage of opportunities to dress in silly outfits.  Your child may have already handed you a list of these items, but lest you doubt or are the parent of a new camper, here is “The Other Camp Packing List…”

Tutus. Nowhere outside the Bolshoi is a tutu a more valuable part of a girl’s wardrobe. From fairy outings to talent shows and even showing team spirit, tutus are a staple in camp wear.

White shirt for tie-dying. Tie-dying and summer camp are synonymous. No matter which camp your child is headed to, it’s a given that at some point during the summer, there will be a tie-dying activity.

Mismatched Socks. You can buy them mismatched or just take mates and mix them up. The crazier the pattern, the better.

Decorative Duct Tape. Think it’s only for handymen and hardware stores? As if anyone would repair anything with polka dot duct tape…At camp, it comes in handy for things like turning t-shirts into tank tops and making costumes.

Cool Letterhead. Camp is one of the few places at which people actually still write letters by hand…and getting those few precious words on interesting letterhead is all the more special.

A Crazy Hat…Or Two! Yes, some days at camp--in fact most days--this is acceptable garb.

Temporary Spirit Tattoos in Camp Colors and Logos. What better way to show team and camp spirit? Goes well with tutus, mismatched socks, and crazy hats, too.

A Stuffed Animal. Let’s be real. Most of us slept with a favorite stuffed animal into our college years.

Mustaches . It’s a camp thing!

Reading Material. It may be against your best hopes, but sending your child to camp with a bit of reading material could result in a positive outcome. Children have adequate time to read at camp. And without television, internet, and iPods, many of them do. Joke and puzzle books are particularly good bunk activity and conversation starters.

Time to Start Thinking about Packing…

Monday, May 7th, 2012

May means a lot of things to a lot of people.  To some it’s Memorial Day and the official beginning of summer.  For others, it marks the end of another school year.  For summer camp parents, it means it’s time to start thinking about packing.  For first time parents, the task can seem absolutely overwhelming.   How much sunscreen and shampoo do I pack?  Do they really need shinguards?  How many t-shirts are enough?  For seasoned camp parents, packing is a science based on experience.  The art is in packing just enough but not too much or too little…and knowing which items the children have sneaked into their bags to take out and which ones to let go.  Packing properly takes time…and patience.

Camps provide rather comprehensive packing lists.  These should not be disregarded.  They’re compiled by professionals with years of camping experience who have excellent knowledge of what children’s bags need to contain in order for them to arrive prepared for a successful summer at camp.  Also keep in mind when packing that living space is somewhat limited at camp.  Your child will not have his or her own room at summer camp.  He or she will live together with several other campers as well as a couple of counselors. This means that there is not a whole lot of room for “extras” and labeling clothes is important as mix-ups are otherwise bound to happen.  If laundry is your primary concern, rest assured that camp laundry is done at least once per week.  Your child’s counselors and other camp staff will see to it that your child has clean clothes.

Summer camp values also often downplay appearance.  The emphasis of summer camp is on fun, friendship, and safety.  Before the end of the summer, your child will likely get wet, slimed, painted, generally messy, and a host of other cool things that tend to make children laugh and adults cringe.  So keep the really good stuff at home and send clothes that neither you nor they will miss too much if they have to be “retired” at the end of the summer.

It’s important for both new and seasoned camp parents to pay as much attention to the items your child’s camp asks not to bring as those items it asks to bring.  There is a reason your camp requests that certain items not be brought onto campus, whether it’s to help facilitate a specific environment, protect those with allergies, or to avoid other issues not conducive to the spirit of summer camp.  Packing “do not bring” items risks them being lost or confiscated until the end of the summer.  This ultimately causes undo stress on your children.  Alleviating stress that results from the idea of having to leave a beloved item such as a cell phone or notepad at home is typically accomplished by reiterating to children about what they will have at camp as opposed to what they won’t.

By following your camp’s advice and being proactive rather than reactive, packing for camp can be a fun countdown to camp rather than a reactive chore.

Got Communication?

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Parents: Camp is here.  You’re packing bags, making last minute preparations, and listening to endless stories with increasing enthusiasm about what happened during the summer of 2010 in eager anticipation for summer of 2011 to begin.  You’re checking and re-checking to make sure all of the paperwork has been submitted and the bag pickups have been scheduled.  So we figure now is the perfect time to talk about the importance of maintaining good communication with your Camp Directors—now and throughout the summer.

Camp is a big deal for your children and for you.  Whether you’ve planned a quiet summer at home or have an awesome vacation planned, we know that your top priority is to know that your children are having an amazing summer.  You can help, simply by being informative.

We’re first and foremost concerned for your child’s safety and well being.  Some of you probably wonder why we ask for photos of your children prior to camp.  It’s so that we can show them to your children’s counselors when we discuss your children’s activity preferences with them so that they can greet campers by name from the moment they step off the bus and have full knowledge of how to make their summer successful.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of communicating medical issues.  Whether it’s an allergy to certain foods or insects, perhaps a dietary restriction, asthma, a vitamin deficiency, or wetting the bed, your camp directors need to know so that these matters can be handled appropriately as situations relating to them may occur throughout the summer.

We also want to know what your children’s interests are.  If we know your child can’t get enough soccer, for instance, we can make sure that he/she gets maximum exposure to soccer during the summer.  Knowing what your children like only helps us guarantee they have the summer of a lifetime.

Personal family matters are never easy, but if there is something happening at home—a divorce, illness in the family, academic issues, etc. it helps us to know.  Perhaps it’s a positive development.  Your child has landed a new role in a film, has made a particularly competitive athletic team, has earned a special honor at school.  Whatever IS your children’s lives at the moment they come to camp, we want to be able to channel it into an amazing summer for them.  And we’re confident we can.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t ask.  As your child’s “summer family”, we want to know how we can help them be at their best.

If anything comes up between the time you put your child on the bus or plane to come to camp and the time we put them back on the bus or plane to come home that might affect his or her summer, please call us.  We want to know what’s happening.  We want to understand how we can make your child’s stay at our camp effortless and memorable.  Even if it’s minor, if you have any reason for pause, please call us.  We want to be proactive in making your child’s experience memorable.

New Camper Day 2011

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Excitement was in the air on Sunday, June 12th as a host of enthusiastic new campers and their parents got to sample the fun that awaits them at Camp Starlight this summer.  Following some introductory games, everyone assembled at the flagpole for an official greeting from David and Allison.  Before some ice breakers that had campers, parents, and staff laughing, several members of the Key Staff were also introduced.  Then it was off for a small group tour, during which lifelong memories and friendships were already being formed.  From the Main Field to the Carriage house and everything in between, campers got a glimpse of all the places where they will have great times as Starlighters over the next several summers.  The day culminated with an option period during which campers actually got to choose and participate in the very first activity of their Starlight careers.  Finally, everyone came together for an indoor cookout before reluctantly getting in their cars and going home to anxiously count down the days until they return for the official start of Summer 2011.  We’re delighted to have such awesome group of campers spending their first summer with us during our 65th!  We can’t wait to see everyone again in a couple of weeks!