Posts Tagged ‘value of summer camp’

What a campfire means to a summer camper!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.48.44 PMCamp life may thrive on variety, but the traditional evening campfire has remained constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a campfire brings back a flood of memories for many summer campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome, and a time when all there was to worry about was playing games and growing stronger. Nothing captures the spirit of the summer camp experience quite like the snap-crackle-pop of the hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames.

A day at camp is often hectic and wild, and the evening campfire offers everybody a chance to wind down. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without it. After all, the traditional evening campfire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night; gathering around the fire represents community, the circle of life, and togetherness with friends new and old.

Tradition

Fire has been a life source for all of recorded history, from the first ancient person to rub two sticks together to the diligent camper wielding flint and tinder. For all that time, friends and family have gathered around the fire to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. (or s’mores, as the case may be!)

Building a fire with only matches, kindling and elbow grease is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, or flashlights, or flashlight apps on your smartphone.

Experiencing a campfire, and perhaps even starting one yourself, is a taste of independence for campers, for whom camp is the one of many steps towards independence and self-sufficiency.

Togetherness

Another thing campfires represent is a time for winding down through songs, skits, and theatrical games. Charades is never as funny as just before bedtime, when your best friend is dancing and gesturing desperately to get everybody to guess the right word. Even if you’re feeling tired after a long day of activities, you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight. Just watch out for all the camp-related inside jokes!

And of course no mention of campfires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. (“Hey, Burritos!” anybody?) Legend has it that there are campers out there who know so many verses of “The green grass grows all around” that it would take a whole day just to sing it from start to finish. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.

…And of course we can’t forget s’mores!

One part of the fire nobody wants to miss: s’more time! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes hard work and commitment. (Thankfully, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and truth be told some folks prefer to let them catch fire for a crispy flavor!)

Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe — I for one appreciate homemade chocolate chip cookies — roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring campfire is something nobody forgets.

Plus, it’s just the right amount of sugar to keep you awake for the closing songs, but not so awake that you have trouble drifting into peaceful dreams after lights out!

Week 4 in Review: Camp Starlight

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Something New at Camp Starlight

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

11722544_10152915989126960_83043213186535253_oIt sounds strange to say out loud, but this is my 10th summer at Camp Starlight. I first came when I was 7 years old, having only heard about camp through my parents’ incredible stories. I was excited, i imagine, although I honestly don’t remember much. What I do remember, however, is that on the second day of camp I was being shy and hadn’t really spoken to any of the girls yet. It’s a strange situation at any age to just jump right in and live with 8 girls you’ve never met before, but at 7, it was extremely nerve-wracking. We were putting on sunscreen before activity and next to me was a girl named Julia. My mom was, and still is, just a little (a lot) neurotic about sunscreen. With that, she only packed me cream sunscreen for my body, thinking that was the more protective option. But, Julia, on the other hand, had this super cool spray. I looked to her with envy and simply said, “I wish that I had sunscreen like that.” Without hesitation, she handed it to me with a smile and let me use hers. We’ve been best friends ever since. It’s weird how that happens, how things we’re unsure about seem frightening, and new situations make us nervous. On that day, my nerves turned into something beautiful almost immediately. I found myself in a similar situation this summer. After 9 unbelievable summers here as a camper, I was extremely hesitant to become a CA. Different worries and questions came to my mind and they all just sort of fell back to, “but what if it’s different?” And so, here I am, 1 week into this summer, heading to HC duty! It is very different, but in the best way possible. I’m coming closer to being the leader I always admired, and in that there is something really special. Just like on that second day of camp when I felt so nervous, but all at once it felt like home, being a CA has been an amazing and educational experience. Along with all the other lessons this place has taught me, I now know that just because it’s new does not mean it’s bad. Change can be good, and at Starlight it always is.

Opening Night Campfire at Camp Starlight

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 7.57.59 AMWhen people speak of camp, there is always talk about the camp family. Now, here at Starlight, everyone is connected through their passion for this place. Although isolated from the outside world, camp allows us to feel closer together. On the second night of camp, tradition tells us that it is time for our camp sisters. These are the older and younger siblings that are by your side for the rest of the summer. These are the people that cheer you up when you just need to laugh a little, or the people who you comfort when you know they’re feeling sad. The oldest camp sister relishes in her leadership role while the younger siblings finally feel like they are truly a part of this Starlight family. Hand in hand, all of girls side walked down to the campfire sight where the night continued. Each division stood up to lead a cheer, hearing their voices ring across the mountains and showing the girls side their Starlight spirit. Next, the upper senior girls continued a long standing tradition, expressing to the camp what being here at Starlight means to them. The campers who have been here the longest lit the campfire and smores were enjoyed by everyone. As the night came to a close, campers were asked to look up to the sky to find a star. Focusing on their star, they where then asked to make a wish for the upcoming summer. The energy in the atmosphere was magical as all of girls side stood together, kicking off the 2015 summer.

Teachers Love Camp Starlight Campers

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.41.56 AMWhen we asked a teacher in Florida what his ideal student looks like, he said “Someone who is respectful, creative and focused.” When we asked a teacher in New Jersey she said “Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions, who wants to learn and who tries their hardest,” and when we asked a teacher from Pennsylvania, she said “Someone who has great time management skills, is a leader and is responsible.” What we learned from talking to these teachers is that all across the country, teachers enjoy having responsible, respectful and creative students in their classrooms. And whattaya know… Camp Starlight helps students develop all of these skills, and so much more. It is our theory, that when teachers ask students what they did over the summer, they’re not just asking because it’s the standard “welcome back to school question,” but because they are secretly trying to decipher which students spent their summer growing, learning and improving at summer camp, and how many spent all summer playing video games. The bottom line: Teachers love students who spend their summers at summer camp.

Spending the summer at camp turns followers into leaders, turns shyness into confidence, and turns laziness into responsibility. Summer camp teaches campers how to work well with others, how to think critically and how to solve problems. It allows students to try new things, ask questions and be vulnerable in order to improve themselves. It teaches time management, respect for peers and authority, and organization. The list goes on and on, but every single day campers are learning valuable life skills that easily transfer over to every aspect of their lives. They think they’re just playing football with their friends, but at the same time they are learning how to communicate with others, how to be a good sport and the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. When they make real connections with people they’d usually never talk to, they are learning to ignore stereotypes and appreciate diversity. Summer camp is day after day of life lessons, disguised as swimming, playing, singing, dancing, biking, hiking and exploring.

Teachers look for leaders in the classroom, someone who can follow instructions and encourage their peers to do the same. It is with these students that teacher form trusting relationships, which can work in the students benefit all year long. These leaders are built at summer camp, and their skills aren’t just confined to the campground or the school campus, they become leaders in every aspect of their life.

Parents can be confident that their child will leave camp a better version of themselves. These students, who enter the new school year with a strong sense of identity, work ethic and high self-esteem, will be an important contributor to their teachers and classmates. This will also help them strive as individuals in the classroom and help them improve their academic performance.

If you were to ask a teacher what they REALLY wanted in an ideal student, most of them would say “Anyone who spent the summer at camp!”

Finding a Voice

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.02.36 AMAlthough most campers leave camp an excited, talkative and outgoing ball of energy, not all of them come to camp that way. Camp has a magical way of taking a quiet and introverted child and encouraging them to find their voice and speak up for themselves. Children who came to camp as followers can emerge as outspoken leaders. Every camper is different and comes with their own unique personality, but each camper will spend the summer learning to communicate with other adults and their peers, a vital skill that children need to learn as they navigate through their formative years.

Campers are always encouraged to work through their issues and problems in a healthy and productive manner, and learn various conflict management techniques. They are taught how to speak up for themselves and make sure their opinions and ideas are heard. They learn how to feel confident asking for help, and learn to be their own advocate.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.54.30 AMLearning to find their voice is one of the best things a young person can do for their confidence and self esteem. Learning to say no without feeling guilty and feeling confident about contributing to a conversation are valuable life skills.  Learning these skills could mean the difference between a student caving into peer pressure and one who can speak their mind. In a world where kids face challenges every single day regarding whether they will be a leader or a follower, a student who spent the summer at Camp Starlight will have the experience necessary to speak up for what is right, even if they’re the only one speaking.
Campers who learn to speak up for themselves also learn to speak up for others. In a society where bullying is so prominent, the world needs more young people who are able to say what they think, stand up for what is right, and know how to do so in a way that is healthy and productive. A camper who spent the summer finding their voice may use it to help another friend, student or sibling who hasn’t found theirs yet.

Instilling confidence in the youth of country is something that will change the world, and when campers truly find their voice and learn how to express their ideas in a constructive way, they feel confident enough to truly make a difference.

Being a Part of the Camp Starlight Team

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.30 AMBeing a part of the team at Camp Starlight is an honor and a privilege, an opportunity to single handedly change the direction of a child’s life by giving them the gift of self confidence, love, patience, forgiveness and positive attention. Camp counselors provide an unforgettable experience for countless campers every single day which something you can’t say about most summer internships or part time jobs.

Camp counselors spend their summers surrounded by nature, interacting with other counselors, staff and campers, and get to experience life through the eyes of a child, an experience that can sometimes feel far away as we grow older. Camp counselors not only teach, they also learn. They learn practical, social and problem solving skills. They learn patience, trust, teamwork, time management, conflict resolution and how to have an impeccable work ethic. Any future employer who wouldn’t hire someone with that skill set would be missing a great opportunity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.09.36 AMYou could sit at the neighborhood pool all summer as a lifeguard, or serve coffee at your local coffee shop, or walk dogs, file papers (yawn!) or serve tables over the summer. But at the end of the day, as you fell asleep, completely exhausted from an active and exciting day, would you feel like what you did make a difference in someone’s life? Would you feel like you made lasting friendships, or invested time in someone who was feeling lonely, afraid or misunderstood? Probably not. The magic that happens when you truly see personal growth and change in someone does not happen in a coffee shop or at a medical office filing cabinet. It happens in the moments when you help someone conquer his or her fears, handle heartbreak, experience a triumph or get through a failure. It is in these moments that you, as a camp counselor, change the world, one camper at a time.

So when you’re thinking about what you should do over the summer, consider Camp Starlight. You’re only applying for one of the most exciting, exhausting, rewarding jobs on the planet!

You were made for this. The world needs changin’, and it starts with you.

Things Which Are Quintessentially Summer Camp

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Summer camp is a fun and exciting experience and time simply flies by. There are several things and activities to do, which makes it impossible not to miss some of them. However, it doesn’t matter how chaotic, busy, or crazy things get, there are a few things that will always remind you about camp:

1.    Arts & Crafts

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.07.09 AMAccording to the American Camp Association (ACA), Arts and Crafts is amongst the five most popular activities at summer camp, and why wouldn’t it? Kids simply love spending a part of their day in a place filled with glitter, paint, scissors, beads, and other craft items. With arts and craft, the possibilities are endless, as the atmosphere not only gives campers the opportunity to relax, reflect, use their creative side and time to socialize with fellow campers and friends.

2.    Campfires

A campfire is a mainstay at every camp. The activities, songs and traditions differ from camp to camp. However, one thing remains consistent and that’s the sacred relevance the campfire holds. The fire symbolizes camp life, and the odor of burning wood serves as a reminder of picturesque settings where camps are situated.

3.    Sing Alongs

Karaoke may be a popular activity for a get-together, but, when it comes to summer camps, there is nothing more melodious than the whole camp singing tunes together. The sing-along are not just about singing songs together, it’s a way of bringing each and everyone together to celebrate the thing which has brought everybody together as one, and that thing is camp.

4.    S’mores

A summer is incomplete without s’mores. And besides, it’s quite hard to resist the pleasure of melted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two crackers. Just one bite is enough to bring instant memories of camp.

5.    Bunks

Now, you might get thinking that what’s so special about bunks. Well, they are much more than places where counselors and campers sleep. It’s where everyone becomes families, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.

6.    Bugle Calls

Bugle Calls guide campers through their day at camp. It doesn’t matter if they are bells or bugles only one sound is enough for campers to know what they have to do. Whether it’s showing up for waterskiing, tennis, or even closing the lights at nighttime, these sounds will let campers know about everything.Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.06.33 AM

7.    Crazy Wardrobe Preferences

Camp is perhaps the only place where you will get complemented for wearing bright colors, body paint, hats, wigs and other funny clothing to a camp function. Funny isn’t it? But, it’s an experience that will always bring back good memories.

Why Every Child Should Go To Summer Camp

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Summer camps are undeniably a fun experience. But what makes it so important that families send their children to summer camps each year? Well, there is more to camping than just singing crazy songs or playing games. Camping is known to provide a lot of positive effects that will matter to your child as they grow up, which is a major reason why so many parents commit to sending them to camp each year. Still not convinced?

Here are a few reasons why you should send your children to summer camp:

Builds Self-Reliance

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.00.23 AMSending your child away to summer camps gives them the opportunity to be more self-reliant and independent. Since you won’t be there to do everything for them, they have to do more for themselves, and learn a lot in the process. However, don’t worry. They won’t be left entirely alone, as highly trained camping staff is present throughout the time they are at the camp.

They Make New Buddies

Your child gets to meet new people who they might become friends with. Summer camp provides an environment that is relaxing and pressure free, encouraging your child to make friends with new people. Who knows the friendship may last for a lifetime? After all, that’s what summer camps do: create friendships.

They Will Try New Things

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.59.31 AMThere are loads of interesting activities to do in summer camps, such as archery, rock-climbing, swimming and much more. Sending your child to camp would allow them to discover interests and talents even they or you didn’t know they had.

Builds Self-Esteem

Summer camps will make a major difference to the self-esteem of your child, as they are given the chance to find out who they exactly are outside the pre-conceived notions of their family. This makes them less clingy, more confident and higher in self-esteem.

They Will Appreciate Nature

Most of the activities at summer camps are focused on the outdoors, which means your child has more exposure to nature. This makes them kinder to animals and plants, and environmentally aware. Notice how your child will carry on what they learnt from their small expeditions and nature hikes.

It’s Better than a Summer Spent In front Of the TV

A break from cell phones, internet, and TV gives your child more time to engage in the real world. Eventually they realize there are far better things to do than sitting and texting or watching TV all day.

So, as you can see, sending your child to summer camp provides several benefits. If you want the same for your child, don’t forget to sign them up for summer camp.

 

Who Goes to Summer Camp?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

A question about the type of children who go to summer camp recently popped up on an internet parenting debate board. The parent in question was considering sending her daughter to a summer camp but was afraid that she would not fit in. Among those offering an opinion, there were a lot of ideas based on stereotypes that seemed mostly derived from what people had seen in the movies rather than firsthand experience. Interestingly, not one of those people participating in the discussion actually sent their children to summer camp. But they knew someone, who knew someone who did. It was like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon summer camp style. But we do know summer camp. It is our lives, not just every summer but throughout the year, and we can describe firsthand the type of children who go to summer camp. Everyone!

It’s true. There really is not a specific type of child that goes to summer camp. Campers who attend the many thousands of summer camps throughout the United States each year come from all walks of life, countries from around the globe, and have about as many different interests as there are types of camps. Here’s the secret. It is not about being the “type” of child that goes to summer camp. It is about finding the summer camp that is right for your child. Camps throughout the United States cater to different interests, budgets, schedules, religious faiths, just about every variable of which one could imagine. Closer to our own home (and hearts), America’s Finest Summer camps fall more into the traditional summer camp category. They are not strictly sports oriented. In fact, they offer plenty of niche activities. But they, as most traditional summer camps, are still considered “sports camps” because there is a lot of physical recreation. Children are encouraged to be active and enjoy the outdoors. Roughly half of each day at a traditional summer camp is focused on sports related activities. It goes without saying that sending a child who is not interested in sports to a seven or eight week camp with an athletic heavy program is probably not a wise choice.

For those ready to cross traditional camps off of your list because you’re sure your child is not the type of child who goes to a traditional style residential summer camp, consider an alternative that is rapidly rising in popularity before you do: choice oriented summer camp programs. Choice oriented camps are sort of a hybrid between a traditional summer camp and special interest camps. In fact, more and more camps are now making their programs more choice oriented because these types of camps have become so popular with campers and their parents over the past several years. Camps that offer choice programs allow campers to decide which activities they do each day. Choice programs vary in the amount of control given to campers. Some offer schedules that are partially determined by the camp with campers having the opportunity to choose a certain amount of their daily activities. Other camps give campers total control, which means that even if the camp is technically considered a traditional sports related summer camp, campers have the opportunity to determine their level of athletic participation. Camps that offer full choice programs tend to draw a slightly more diverse set of campers than traditional sports camps and are typically a good fit for campers who want the traditional summer camp experience but who have special interests on which they’d prefer to focus.

The length of the camp is key in determining whether a camp is a good fit for your child. Children who have never spent any time away from home or who have never attended day camp may find a sleepaway camp that lasts the full summer a bit overwhelming. And who could blame them? Imagine being a child who has spent every day of your life in an urban or suburban setting with mom and dad who suddenly finds yourself sleeping in a bunk or cabin with eight or ten other kids and a couple of college age strangers you just met in the middle of the woods. Yep…a bit of a culture shock, and for children who tend to be a bit skittish, shy, or particular about their daily and/or nightly routines, usually not a good one.  In fact, most full summer camps recommend and even prefer that new campers attend day camp for a summer or two prior to enrolling for a residential program. For those wanting to test the waters with a sleepaway experience, consider trying a session camp with shorter sessions, usually three or four weeks.

All of this is not to say that there aren’t certain attributes that help a child become acclimated to a summer camp environment faster than others. Outgoing, open-minded children who are willing to try just about anything usually get off the bus on their very first arrival day and blend right in as if they’ve been going to summer camp their entire lives. Children who tend to be more reserved may take a bit longer to ease into summer camp life, but the environment of summer camp tends to be one that facilitates acceptance and there are very few types of personalities that don’t eventually hit their stride. Generally, once children meet that special friend or find that favorite activity, self-confidence grows by leaps and bounds and any sort of trepidation they may have had when they arrived is left behind. In that regard, camp can actually be a good experience for those children who could use a little boost in the area of self-confidence.

So, if you’ve been thinking about sending your children to summer camp but haven’t because, like the parent on the parenting debate forum, you aren’t sure whether your child will fit in, remember that it’s really more about finding the right camp for your child’s personality and preferences. Once you find that, chances are that you’ll also find a group of campers with which your child will fit right in!