Posts Tagged ‘summer camps’

Camp Mom

Friday, February 1st, 2013

One of the most essential roles held in a summer at Camp Starlight is that of the Camp Mom. The Camp Mom is always alert and sensitive to the needs of Starlighters in their everyday routines. Her chief role is to pay that extra special bit of attention known as mother love to our junior campers, specifically our Junior Boys. She checks that the campers are clean and keeping up personal hygiene. She makes sure everyone is lathered up in their sunscreen before heading off to a day of fun in the sun, and she is always ready with her clippers to trim those fingernails when they need it!

Our staff at Camp Starlight is ever vigilant to the safety and well-being of campers, but as we all know, there are just some things that a mother does best. The Camp Mom has the freedom and flexibility to be where she is needed whenever that is. She drops into the bunks, stops by at activity periods, and of course does her daily rounds at meals to make sure everyone is having a proper meal. Counselors are aware and working to make sure the kids are happy and healthy, but only a mom can really go behind and make sure everything is just right. As important as these roles are, the position also steps outside of the everyday practical check-ups and really allows the Camp Mom and the campers to develop a caring relationship through the summer.

In addition to watching the physical welfare of the kids, a Camp Mom also takes on the role of a nurturing supporter. Campers realize she is there for them to talk to, to wish each of them sweet dreams at night, and to help encourage their independence and growth during their summer at camp. For all of these reasons, it is obvious why the Camp Mom is such an integral part of our youngest campers’ summers. All of our previous Camp Moms have shared their enjoyment of being mother to the many kids they met over the summer and being able to care for them during their time away from home. It is also a common feeling that a summer at Camp Starlight as the Camp Mom brought them a wonderfully warm experience personally because of becoming a part of the amazing people known as the Starlight Family!

Lindsay

“Get to Know” Kim–Upper Debs Division Leader

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

For another “Get to know…”, a couple of our Deb girls interviewed Upper Debs Division Leader Kim Schwartz.  Here’s the word from Kim:

This is her fifth summer at Camp Starlight. Her role here at camp has always been the Upper Debs Division Leader—“Mama Eagle”–and she can’t believe that some of her campers from her first summer are now counselors.

Her most memorable moment at Camp Starlight was in 2008, when she had her Bat Mitzvah here.

Some other interesting facts about Kim…

She was pregnant her first summer

She loves that her entire family gets to come to camp together every summer (hubby Evan is also a Division Leader on the boys side, son Ben is a camper, and daughter Maddie looks forward to being a camper in a couple more years).

Speaking of family, she also loves that her children will grow up at camp.

During the ten months she’s not at Camp Starlight, she teaches upper elementary school.

She says that if she wasn’t a Division Leader at camp, then she’d definitely be a Bunk Specialist.

Faves list…

Color: blue

Camp Meal: whacky mac & matzah ball soup

Evening Activity: Spirit of Starlight

And there you have our “Get to know…” with Kim Schwartz!

Visiting Day is upon Us!

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Can you believe it’s almost Visiting Day already?  We can’t! As usual, it feels as though someone pushed a fast forward button.  It seems like just yesterday we were all hugging and greeting each other on Opening Day.  However, the campers are ready (and so are we) to greet parents and grandparents for what is always a very special day each summer.  The campers have been very busy finishing up Arts & Crafts projects for parents to take home, making note of all of the things they want to talk about and places around camp that they want to take their parents on the big day, and, most importantly (according to the campers), making those infamous Visiting Day wish lists…Speaking of those lists, we thought this would be a good opportunity to toss in a bit of food for thought (okay, we admit it…pun intended) when you’re scanning through multiple pages of delectable wishes…

Moderation is always good.  Cinderella had until midnight at the ball.  Campers have less than two days to eat all of the goodies their parents bring them.  Not that the local charities to which we always donate the extras mind, but, realistically, do you really think your camper—even with the help of his or her bunkmates—can eat several 5lb bags of M&M’s in that amount of time?

Yes, we have NO TREE NUTS OR TREE NUT PRODUCTS!  The capitalization and underlining are not typos.  We want everyone to have fun on Visiting Day but we take food allergies very seriously.  That means no coconut, pesto, marzipan, or Nutella (yes, a moment of silence please) in addition to the very obvious peanut butter—or any nut butter for that matter.  We won’t post the entire list because we can’t even pronounce some of them, but if you have questions, here is a list of common tree nuts that most people can pronounce:

Almond                Beechnut            Brazil nut

Bush nut              Butternut            Cashew

Chestnut             Coconut               Filber

Ginko nut            Hazelnut              Hickory nut

Lichee nut           Macadamia nut Nangai nut

Pecan                    Pine nut               Pistachio

Shea nut              Walnut

Your child will attempt to use you as a human ATM for cash to keep in the bunk.  Resist the urge to dispense.  When money goes missing in the bunks, we have no way to tell if it’s actually missing, hiding in a pocket somewhere, or spent but forgotten, because we never had any record of it coming into camp to begin with.  If you find yourself reaching for your wallet, add the funds to your child’s camper account.  Trust us.  That really does make the most sense.  There is nothing to spend money on here at camp anyway, and we give campers spending money from their camper accounts when they go on trips.

Trips…If your child is a Senior going to Canada, he or she will need a passport.  If you haven’t already, please remember to bring it.  The CAs head to California on Monday.  Visiting Day is your last chance to pad their spending money accounts if necessary.

And there are a few tips for making Visiting Day successful for everyone.  Safe travels, and can’t wait to see everyone on Saturday!

The Fun Doesn’t Stop after 5PM!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

It’s January.  The kids just returned to school after their winter break, from which you’re still exhausted.  You’re already thinking about summer.  Entertaining them for two weeks was hard enough, let alone two months!  Maybe it’s time to start thinking about summer camp.  Yes, it’s January.  Yes, this is the time of the year when most of us start monitoring the morning radio and news reports for school closings and delays.  But summer is closer than you might think and now is the ideal time to start choosing a camp.

Summer camps come in many sizes and lengths from around one hundred campers all the way up to several hundred and sessions that last a from a few weeks up to seven.  There is truly a summer camp for every preference and budget.  No matter what type of summer camp you prefer, they all have one thing in common:  the fun doesn’t stop after 5pm!

Summer camp doesn’t just occupy your children during those summer hours when they’d otherwise be at school.  It’s a place that entertains them well into the evening hours as well.  In fact some of the best times at camp happen after dinner.  Sure there is plenty for campers to do during the day; play sports, pursue a hobby, swim, boat, play games, make new friends.  But the evening is when some of the deepest bonding moments of the summer take place.  After dinner at summer camp, children don’t retire to the living room sofa to watch television or flip on the Wii.  There are no cell phones in which to engage themselves for hours playing Angry Birds.  At camp, campers may find themselves taking part in a sing along, acting in a camp show, playing crazy games, or watching a magician or hypnotist.  It could be drum circle night or there may even be a campfire with s’mores in store.  Maybe it’s a swim or a dance party…or both!  It could be a sleepover or a night making special treats or craft projects.  Maybe it’s just a night to chill with the bunk or cabin  No matter what the activity, it’s fun and two words that are NEVER heard at camp: “I’m bored!”

Much of the support for summer camp revolves around the skills children develop during daytime programming activities.  The value in summer camp evening activities is often underrated.  However, a great deal of planning intended to extend camp spirit and tradition into evenings.  Camps employ entire teams of people whose sole responsibility is to plan and execute evening activities and special events that enhance the overall camp experience.  While having fun at their evening activities, campers also continue to learn how to shine as an individual, to be part of a team, and to develop their creativity in ways that benefit them as well as others.  At the same time, some of the most prevalent and pervading summer camp memories are made at evening activities.

An investment in summer camp is not just an investment in keeping children occupied during their summer days.  It’s a 24/7 investment that also includes evening entertainment that further develops the skills that are honed during the daytime.  So now and during their next break from school, when your children proclaim, “We’re bored,” think about summer camp.

Another Summer Has Come to a Close…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

We can’t believe how fast another summer flew by.  It truly is a privilege for us to be able to host so many campers each summer.  We’re sad that the Summer of 2011 has already drawn to a close, but excited to begin planning for the Summer of 2012.  For us, our greatest challenge is to make each summer better than the previous.  That’s a hard thing to live up to when the current summer has been so amazing!  Collectively, we really couldn’t have asked for a better group of parents, campers, or staff members.  We know that all of you are what makes Camp Starlight!  We can’t wait to meet those who will be joining us for the first time in 2012 and to welcome back all of our friends!  To everyone, here’s to living 10 for 2…until our next 2!

Checking in with J.J. and Dena

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

We’ve have had a fantastic off-season at work.  I’ve  been busy teaching 4th Grade in Great Neck, while J.J. has been teaching 5th Grade in Valley Stream.  

While being in the classroom is always fun and challenging, we can’t wait to be out on the fields and down at the lake.   There’s really nothing as rewarding as seeing a child beam with confidence when he scores a goal or learns how to kayak for the first time. 

We’ve also been having a blast at home.   We’re officially a skiing family!  Both kids did a great job this winter with trips to the Poconos and the Catskills.   Perhaps next year J.J. will finally get to return to Colorado.  A major highlight for us this year was our first family trip to Disney World!  We soaked up all the fun and excitement the parks had to offer and truly had a blast!

It was so great to see everyone at the reunion in January.  It brought back so many fond memories we shared with the Juniors of 2010.  We miss the little moments like fishing with a milk crate at the swim docks.  When J.J. heard that the circus arts will be coming to Starlight this summer, the juggling clubs came out of the attic. After brushing off a little dust and polishing them up a bit, he has been practicing in overtime so he can show off his skills at camp this summer! Be on the look out for the one, the only AMAZING JUGGLING DIVISION LEADER…coming to Starlight June 2011!

Sparking Creativity Through Campfire

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011


One of the most endearing and sacred parts of summer camp is the campfire.  More than just wood lit with a match, it’s an intimate part of the camping experience that goes far beyond simply sitting around a fire.  Each camp has a set of traditions uniquely connected to the campfire experience and, to campers, each tradition is significant, demanding reverence.  The campfire is the very place where many children recall the moment when their camp transformed from “a camp” to “their camp”, where fellow campers and counselors become family while singing songs, roasting s’mores, and engaging in campfire activities.   So intricate is the campfire to the summer camp experience that even former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has reflected on its importance in making him who he is:

“Simply consider the lessons I was taught by the campfire…every time the rich reward was the same as we simply sat and enjoyed our consuming creation. And, there was one aspect in particular that never failed to intrigue me, and that was the process of seeing the single small flame of the match spread to the kindling and then the twigs and then the smaller branches and finally the larger logs. It didn’t dawn on me until years later, but this was the perfect metaphor for the creative process…Years later, I found myself running a network television division and then a movie studio and now an entire entertainment company. But, much of the success I’ve achieved can be traced to the direct and metaphorical
lessons I learned in building those campfires.”

To some, to assign such significance to fire may seem a bit of a stretch.  But to anyone who has attended camp, it’s not only believable but apt.  Beyond Eisner’s metaphor, the campfire is symbolic of camp, and represents the bonding between campers and nature.  Campfires instantly evoke feelings of togetherness and promote an atmosphere of being together in an intimate setting that is unique to the people who are present.  Many camps hold opening and closing campfires to welcome campers and immerse them in the camping experience and to help them say goodbye at the end of the summer.  At the beginning of the summer, the flames represent the birth of a new summer.  Opening campfires often include some sort of ritual that introduces an idea or process that can be re-visited throughout the summer, such as setting goals for the summer or some sort of introduction and bonding activity with camp “siblings”.  The meaning of the flames, however, transforms at the end of the summer. The burning of a closing campfire represents the end of the season.  It’s a way to give the summer a proper and respectful send off.  Campfires held throughout the summer supplement overnight camping trips and special events.

To say that the campfire breeds creativity is not only accurate, but understated.  The various representations and meanings that the actual fire itself takes on helps campers learn to look at the same thing from different angles, a crucial aspect of honing creative thought and learning to think “outside the box”, which is essential to developing good problem solving skills.  When considered from this perspective, it’s not at all difficult to imagine a CEO of one of the world’s largest companies crediting much of his success to his camp experiences, specifically to the campfire.  In fact, it provides insight about the significance of camp and how the lessons learned there can be carried throughout life.

1,3,5,6 We Want Olympics!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Over several decades, across many miles, and in the heart of campers of all ages lies the excitement of arguably the most anticipated event of the summer. When will it happen? Who will be our leadership? What team will I be on? These questions echo in the minds of campers and counselors alike throughout the school year, and they only grow more intense as the summer progresses. So what is this hallowed event that has everyone’s attention? And what is it about this event that has everyone so excited?

Well, at Camp Starlight we call this thrilling week of spirit and competition Olympics! Our campers and staff pass many a spare moment over the year thinking about what the team names will be, who will be the officers and captains, and what the theme for Sing will be. Once the summer kicks off, and the weeks begin to pass, whispers about when it will break can be heard around camp.

But as anyone who has spent a summer at Starlight will tell you, Olympics is an exhilarating week of athletic, strategic, and academic competition. Whether your strength is playing on the soccer field, catching cheese balls on your shaving cream laden head, or having the fastest buzzer pressing thumb in Wayne County, your team will be depending on your contribution! From the second Olympics breaks to the moment your feet hit the lake after the final scores are announced, the electrifying spirit of the Blue and the White can be felt in the air. At Starlight, there is no doubt that we truly do justice to the time honored tradition shared by summer camps around the country and passed down over many years.

So the next time you catch yourself daydreaming of smearing on your face paint or spraying your hair in your team’s shade, know that there is another Starlighter somewhere sharing in your excitement and anticipation. So until we’re back together facing off on the fields, dodging gigs in our seats, and handing off the baton, make sure to keep “B-L-U-E, we got the spirit!” and “We are the white team! Couldn’t be prouder!” fresh in your thoughts!

Childhood Obesity Part II: Balancing Nutrition and a Healthy Lifestyle

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

In the first part of this blog series, we discussed the benefits of physical activity at camp.  There are underlying advantages to this that directly relate to nutritional habits.  Research shows that that the more time children spend doing passive activities such as watching television, sitting at a computer, or playing video games, the more likely they are to overeat.  The reason for this is simple.  A sedentary lifestyle leads to boredom.  Nutritionists assert that lack of activity mars a child’s ability to determine the difference between boredom and hunger.  Unfortunately, according to dietician Jennifer Thomas, the increased amount of free time and lack of structure that often comes with summer break makes children particularly vulnerable to tedium and excessive food consumption.  Says Thomas, “A child can pick up 5 to 10 pounds over the course of a summer, so it’s important to recognize the difference between boredom and hunger.”

Concern about the obesity crisis has sprung to the forefront of the camping industry.  Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. and Chief Scientist for The American Council on Excercise, was a keynote speaker at the 2011 American Camp Association’s (ACA) National Conference, attended by thousands of camp professionals.  In his address, Dr. Bryant discussed the growing issue of obesity and praised the ability of summer camp  to transform poor habits through exercise.  Most traditional summer camps offer children a healthy mix of hobbies and athletics.   Camp staff members encourage campers to participate in everything that’s offered to them, even that which they might not necessarily do or try at home.

There is also something to be said for the fact that many summer camp activities, including dining, are scheduled into a child’s day and carried out in a group setting.  Access to food is limited throughout campus, and eating is typically not permitted in bunks. Quite simply, obtaining food at camp is not as easy as walking into the pantry or opening the refrigerator on a whim for lack of something better to do.  New research has established many benefits to family meals.  One potentially underrated advantage is that dining as a unit may keep consumption in check by limiting what nutritionists call the “eating area”, the combination of time and space in which eating occurs.  “This strategy can help determine if they [children] are really hungry or just bored,” says Thomas.  Meals at summer camp are held at specific times in a designated place—usually a dining or mess hall—and campers dine together, often with their bunkmates.  Counselors supervise, insuring that everyone receives food and reporting any changes in a camper’s eating patterns.

The four day 2011 ACA conference also featured  seminars that addressed issues such as how to  work together to improve the overall health and nutrition of campers, understanding the relationship between nutrition and wellness and using that knowledge to help campers be high achievers through healthy bodies and minds, and adding healthy options to dining room menus, particularly for those campers who require special diets.

Indeed, though many camps are constantly striving to improve in these areas, the notions  introduced in these seminars are not new.  Meals served by most summer camps are carefully planned and balanced in accordance with USDA recommendations.  Many camps also encourage their campers to make healthy choices at mealtimes by providing several fruit options in the morning and salad bars at lunch and dinner.  Vegetarian alternatives are typically available and, increasingly, more attention is being given to rising nutritional challenges such as diabetic or gluten free diets.

All of this is enough to make summer camp worth considering as a combatant to the type of lackadaisical lifestyle that leads to poor eating habits and, possibly, obesity.

Shout Out from Schumer

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Camp Starlight Boy’s Athletic Director, Adam Schumer, recently checked in to let us know what he has been up to and gave us a couple of exercises to help us train for the 2011 Slope for Lope.

After Camp; Adam returned to his job as an elementary physical education teacher at Forest Hill Elementary School in Palm Beach County, Florida. Adam is extremely busy as the coach of the John I. Leonard High School Wrestling team. His team recently won the Palm Beach Gardens duals, and they have seen remarkable improvement across all weight classes. Adam and his team look forward to the regional, district, and state tournaments.

To keep active during the off-camp season, Adam participates in a number of athletic events. He ran in the Palm Beaches Marathon Festival, where he finished near the top of his age group this past December. Adam also participates in various Adventure Races across Florida.  These races include canoeing, biking, and running. Participants are given a map and are required to check in at various points as they make their way through the course. Adam plans to bring this Adventure Race concept to Starlight this summer.

Adam says the winter season is the perfect time to move your exercise routine indoors, and he suggested a couple of fun winter activities for campers. Younger campers should start practicing some of your favorite circus tricks, such as hula hooping, juggling, or jumping rope (if you have high ceilings). Just make sure you’ve got enough space and don’t damage any of your parents’ favorite furniture! Older campers, keep up the yoga and pilates. They are great for strengthening muscles, improving flexibility,and lowering stress from homework and exams. They’re also easy and inexpensive activities that you can do just about anywhere in your house.

Hopefully these drills help out, and he can’t wait to see you at Camp in June!