Learning to Look on the Bright Side at Summer Camp

November 20th, 2017

A silver lining can be defined as finding the hopeful side to any situation, no matter how gloomy. Silver linings are small blessings that can lift the spirits of individuals as well as put an instant smile on your face. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have an unlimited amount of silver linings that I can recall at any moment of the day to make it better. For twelve summers that I spent at Camp Starlight, I have had the opportunity to make memories, both big and small, that are impossible to forget. With each summer comes new bonds and irreplaceable friendships. After these twelve summers, I have the ability to remain positive and look on the bright side of just about any situation I am faced with. This skill is one that I have incorporated into my daily life in countless environments, both inside and outside of camp.

 

At Camp Starlight, small blessings radiate wherever you look. The support network is unprecedented in the fact that everyone in the camp community looks on the bright side. Whether it be helping to sweep the bunk before inspection, campers cheering a bunkmate on as she climbs the rock wall, or counselors reading a story before bed, the positive feeling of love and support ruminates throughout the camp environment.

 

While camp presents campers and counselors with this magical feeling of happiness, there are obstacles that are faced over the course of the summer. Changes in weather, homesickness, arguments, and disappointment is inevitable. However, camp provides its community with an opportunity to learn how to overcome these challenges by looking on the brightside. For every moment that appears to be gloomy, there is someone there to lend a supportive hug or helping hand to cheer you up. At Camp Starlight, the love between individuals is genuine and powerful. Being able to have real conversations and talk through difficult situations with friends and counselors alike is the silver lining that makes camp so unique.

 

These small blessings and ability to overcome obstacles at camp helps to prepare us for the daily routines we face during the other ten months of the year. Instead of needing help cleaning the bunk or feeling down after losing a sports game, campers and counselors are now faced with the challenges of school work and the professional world.

 

Philosophies learned at camp are ingrained in both campers and counselors as we remember the importance of remaining positive and supportive to those around us. These same campers that once needed help making their beds over the summer, now have the skill set and ability to support those friends in the classroom. This includes helping others with homework assignments, raising money for a school event, or even cheering on the school’s sports teams. For counselors in college and in the workforce, the attitudes and lessons learned at camp are easily transferable to all tasks. These can include pulling an all-nighter before an exam or meeting important deadlines set by your boss. It is the inner drive to look on the bright side that motivates campers and counselors to find a silver lining in all that they do.

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

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.

 

How Summer Camp Cultivates A Growth Mindset

November 6th, 2017

Camp Starlight is focused on developing the whole child in a way that is healthy and fun. And although all of the running, jumping, swimming, climbing, dancing, and playing is great for their physical health, working on their emotional well-being, their character, and their self-confidence is just as necessary. This is why we put so much emphasis on having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.

 

By definition, people with a growth mindset “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

 

Campers come to camp with the labels and expectations that the world has put on them, and many have come to believe that these traits, both good and bad, are just an integral part of who they are. Some have been told they are smart their entire lives, and their fixed mindset makes them believe that their intelligence is something that comes naturally to them and doesn’t require effort to improve upon. The same goes for athletic performance, relational ability, and their character. Campers who have been told they have anger issues will begin to believe that they are incapable of handling their anger; it is a fixed part of them that can’t be changed or improved upon.

 

At Camp Starlight, we focus on fostering a growth mindset in each camper. When they succeed, we praise their efforts by saying things like “you worked so hard at that” instead of “you are awesome!” Although the latter can be helpful to hear, hearing specific praise acknowledging the effort that the camper put into a specific task is more rewarding and builds their self-esteem. Camp staff and counselors work hard to praise the process instead of just the person. Campers will hear us say things like:

  • Tell me more about what you did
  • How did you figure that out?
  • Are you pleased with how it came out?
  • You must be so proud of yourself

 

We try to avoid labeling campers or putting too much emphasis on the labels they put on themselves. We want to encourage them to see themselves as capable and worthy of improvement in all areas of their lives. We want them to strive to be the best versions of themselves instead of being complacent with the label they’ve grown so comfortable with.

 

As campers step out of their comfort zones and try new things, they realize that they are capable of so much more than they thought and that their qualities, strengths, and abilities are not fixed. We want campers to be intrinsically motivated; to try new thing and preserve through hard things to feel good about themselves, not because they are seeking the approval of anyone else.

 

A summer at camp is about growing, maturing, and improving in all areas of life. Our goal is that campers leave with new friends, new experiences, and a stronger sense of who they are and what a valuable asset they are to the world. And it all starts with how they think about themselves.

 

The Joy of Unplugging for the Summer

October 30th, 2017

 

Today’s world has become inundated with technology. Whether it be checking the amount of likes you received on your latest Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, or trying to take the perfect selfie, our focus on technology has overpowered our daily lives. Without the ability to live in the moment and appreciate our surroundings, technology continues to have the upperhand on blocking face to face communication between individuals. This is why getting the chance to unplug for seven weeks at camp is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the outside pressures of life and enjoy the people that surround you.

 

For seven of the fifty-two weeks of the year, you can explore everything the world around you has to offer. Once reveille blows in the morning, your day starts by enjoying the view of the morning mist coming off the lake and the sounds of birds chirping. Meals are filled with lively conversations with your bunkmates, spirited cheers, and songs. As the day progresses, opportunities to grow your creativity and skills continue. From learning how to dive at the lake to conquering your fear of climbing the rock wall to then fly down the zipline, unplugging allows us to experience new adventures each day of the summer.

 

It may sound far-fetched, but the friendships I have established at camp have surpassed all other relationships I have ever made. Camp friends see the real you, not the version of yourself that you post for the world to see on social media. Without the barrier of a screen between individuals, concrete bonds can form and lifelong memories are made. Interactions at camp are both real and authentic. I still talk to my bunkmates from my first summer in 2006, and when I see them, it is as if we have never been apart.

 

The unplugged atmosphere at camp allows you to be yourself at all hours of the day. Whether it be coming up with a dance for MTV night, going to different activities with your bunk, or dressing up for a wacky event, your spirit and confidence shines. Everywhere you look, people are smiling, cheering, singing, and dancing. At camp, you can be yourself and achieve all your expectations, with the acceptance and support of everyone around you.

 

The act of unplugging is so much more than being without technology for seven weeks. It’s a chance to explore, create, and experience new adventures. Unplugging has allowed friendships to be established and lifelong memories to be made. Most importantly, unplugging at camp allows us all to embrace our individuality and learn to be our true selves.

5 Things Campers Look Forward to the Most for the Summer

October 25th, 2017

For almost the entirety of the year, campers sit at home waiting for the summer to start. Drumming their fingers and looking back at all the fun they’ve had so far, campers dream about all the things they can look forward to once camp finally arrives. When campers are at home with wandering minds, here are the things they look forward to the most when they get to come back to Camp Starlight.

  1. Sleeping Bunks: Experiencing every night at Camp Starlight as a giant sleepover with your best friends is why campers daydream about being back in their bunk beds. Even when the day is over, campers are still able to have fun.
  2. The Lake: The sunsets, sailing, paddle boarding and water toys allow campers to splash around and have as much fun as possible in the water. The Lake is an iconic point of Camp Starlight for good reason.
  3. Unique Activities: Campers are able to learn many unique skills at camp from magic tricks and circus activities to cooking and waterskiing. Opportunities at Camp Starlight are not always available for kids outside the ten other months of the year.
  4. Their Friends: The Friendships formed at Camp Starlight are very special and unlike any other friendships you will encounter. The summer bonds campers together in a very unique that makes these friendships last way past the summer.
  5. Traditions: All the fun traditions Camp Starlight possesses is what makes a summer at Starlight full of excitement and adventure. Becoming a part of Starlight history and carrying on these traditions is what keeps the magic of camp alive.

Why Working at a Camp Starlight Makes You a Better Leader

October 9th, 2017

A lot of people wonder how so many counselors return to Camp Starlight and tell all their friends about working at this summer camp. The answer lies in how Camp Starlight helps counselors, whether it’s their first summer of their fifth, become better leaders when they work here. Working all summer long with campers is a challenge, but Camp Starlight really provides the guidance and support to its counselors to help them be the best at their job and help them be leaders. To have a successful summer you need to be a leader to the campers and here is how Camp Starlight ensures every counselor a successful summer.

 

  1. Team Work of Co-Counselors: When you’re a counselor at Starlight, you always work in a team with your co-counselors in your bunk. As a team you figure out how to work with the campers and help them have a fun summer, the constant teamwork molds how you become a leader.
  2. Find Your Voice: Communicating with campers every day and night, Starlight helps you find a positive voice for the campers to follow. This voice contributes to how effective you communicate with the campers and have a successful summer when conflicts arise, and as a leader, communication is the most important aspect of a productive team.
  3. Understand Your Skills: Starlight helps you figure out what your strong skills are when working with campers and what skills need improvement. They are always there to give you tips in how to have a better summer with your campers and want you to be a successful leader so the campers have fun.
  4. Keep the Motivation Going: Working day and night with the campers is a challenge, so motivational steam can run out quickly, but Starlight helps counselors push through the rough times and maintain focus. Giving the counselors a hand or helping them stay positive is how counselors learn to keep going, this skill is what helps counselors become better leaders because they are ready to face any challenges.
  5. The Importance of Smiling: Stress and worry is a daily part of the job, but Starlight reminds counselors to always keep smiling and this little habit goes a long way. Remembering to smile maintains a positive focus and makes you approachable, an important characteristic for the leader of a group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Cant Wait to Come Back to Camp Starlight

October 3rd, 2017

For those who have never worked at a summer camp before, there are many questions to ask and ideas to consider about life at a summer camp, but at Camp Starlight, returning staff can put all worries to rest about what it is like to work at the most special summer camp this world has to offer.

For starters, working at a summer camp is all about helping kids grow and become better individuals and one of the most rewarding aspects of working at Camp Starlight is the ability to watch all sorts of talented kids grow and master what they love. More often than not, the staff returns to see the campers they have helped, anticipating all the potential within them for another summer at Starlight. Along with the campers, all the staff members look forward to spending another summer with friends they have met from all over the world. Camp Starlight nurtures friendships not just for campers, but for staff as well, and Camp Starlight is a place that allows people to strengthen friendships with people from Australia, South Africa, England and any place imaginable.

Because of all the people staff members at Camp Starlight are able to work with, Camp Starlight is the most positive working environment, everyone is happy to see and spend another day of the summer with their co-counselors and campers. It never really feels like work because you always have that much fun wherever and whatever you’re doing at Camp Starlight. With all these positive elements of working at Camp Starlight, it’s no wonder so many staff members return each summer to once again feel the magic of Camp Starlight, a place that is truly worth the ten for two.

What I Never Dreamt I Would Get Out of Summer Camp

September 25th, 2017

When working at a summer camp for the first time, there are many typical things that you would expect to happen like making friendship bracelets, sitting around a campfire or chanting traditional camp cheers. While all of these things do happen at Camp Starlight, there are many experiences that occur that take first time staff members for a surprise. The one thing that really surprises staff members working at Camp Starlight for the first time are all the positive life lessons they get out of their summer.

Working with kids of all different ages and coworkers from all different cultures truly provides first time staff members with a life perspective they’ve never experienced before. They learn so much about campers and other cultures and in turn learn so much about themselves. Camp Starlight is a place that helps first time staff members discover new skills, talents and passions about themselves just like the campers do. Before Camp Starlight, you might not have ever known that you have the best time working with younger kids or have a knack for coaching campers to the championship. You learn what skills you really have when working with kids and in what ways you can improve their lives for the better.

Not only do you learn new things about yourself, but you gain so many new memories and friendships unlike any other. Camp Starlight is a camp that gives you the opportunity to make a new best friend from Ireland and experience special events with your campers that create unique memories. You will never forget the thrill of Olympics, all the laughs from Friday Night Show or how sad you were to say goodbye to all your campers and friends on the last day of camp.

There are many things you will never dream you would get out of summer camp, but once you experience a summer at Camp Starlight you realize anything is really possible.

My Last Summer as an Upper Senior

September 18th, 2017

When I ran off the bus on the first day of camp, I immediately started crying because I was so happy to be back at Camp Starlight. As an Upper Senior, this was my last summer at Camp Starlight and when I arrived I knew I was ready to embrace that role at camp.

The last summer is bittersweet in how special it is. This is the summer where I finally got to do everything I ever wanted to do at camp and it was a blast, but this was the last time I would get to spend an entire summer with my best friends playing games, hanging in the Lake House and having all the fun I could want. Sometimes it is overwhelming having this much responsibility at camp and knowing that you’re a huge role model for the younger girls, but once I embraced that responsibility, I became a better leader for my division. There are so many life lessons you learn in your last summer at camp, for instance, I learned how important it is to be calm and collected in stressful situations and that it is better to always have a positive outlook in any situation. Learning this helped me be the best leader and find my voice in the division. All the responsibility of being an Upper Senior is hard work, but at the end of the summer when I realized how many amazing things happened because of my hard work, I realized how in the end it was all really worth it and that my summer wouldn’t had been as fun if I didn’t put in my all. It is incredibly hard to say goodbye to my summer home but I with all the amazing memories and friendships I’ve created over the years, I know Camp Starlight will never really leave me.

– Bailey R., Camper

 

Polar Bear Challenge Motivates Campers

September 11th, 2017

Jumping into a teeth chattering cold lake every morning isn’t the most pleasant sounding idea at Camp Starlight, but you would be surprised by how many people willingly do it and there’s actually a great reason why they do.

At Camp Starlight there is a special club you can be a part of if you jump into the lake every single morning of the summer. Jump in, splash around and embrace the cold and you’ll be a member of the prestigious Polar Bear Club. Each morning campers from all the divisions jump into the lake to complete the daily task of being in the Polar Bear Club. No skips are allowed, even if it’s extra chilly in the morning, and if you successfully complete this challenge there is a special party at the end of the summer just for you.

It’s a silly challenge but there are so many benefits to being a part of the Polar Bear Club because of everything it teaches campers. For a camper to participate in this means they start their day completing a challenge a lot of people won’t even attempt to do. When a camper starts every morning overcoming a challenge and feeling accomplished, it sets them up to have a positive day where they can accomplish many more things. This ripple effect will translate into campers realizing how much potential is inside them, motivating them to tackle larger and more difficult challenges. The Polar Bear Challenge also shows campers the importance of determination and to never give up, especially on mornings when it’s a bit nippier than usual.

Their hard work pays off when at the end of the summer they realize they are one of few campers that were actually motivated enough to become a member of the Polar Bear Club, the rewarding feeling is something that makes all those cold mornings well worth it.