Archive for May, 2010

Life, Unplugged

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I don’t know about you, but my kids are constantly plugged into something, whether they are texting their friends (does anyone talk anymore?), bopping along to Lady Gaga’s latest, updating their Facebook status, researching a school project online and creating a multi-media presentation, or playing games on my iPhone while I desperately try to finish a conversation at the vet’s office.

Some days I can win a battle or two (no texting at dinner!) but the war is ongoing. And honestly, I’m not the best example. That iPhone I mentioned is never far from reach, and right now I’m surfing online, listening to my own brand of pop music, answering text messages as they come in and writing this blog.

Don’t you wish there was a place where we could all live life unplugged? We adults may not be so lucky; but for our kids, that place is summer camp.

Knowing that someone out there is cultivating a culture of back-to-basics, low-tech life is an irresistible draw for me as a parent. My husband and I love the outdoors and frequently take our kids on short camping trips, but these offer only a short break from the world of “screen time”. Monday morning comes and before the sleeping bags air out, we’re all rushing to see what awaits us in our email inboxes.

As a mom, I worry about the long-term effects of all of these tech ways of communicating. I’m not alone. Several studies have suggested that kids who spend too much time plugged in lose some skills for interpersonal interaction. Let’s fight back.

At camp, social interaction is done the old fashioned way – face-to-face. Campers and counselors alike leave their cell phones at home and get back to a simpler life, when there is an art to conversation. If you were a camper, think back to your best memories. All of mine involve revolve around interpersonal interactions you just can’t get through an email: telling stories around a camp fire; sharing hushed secrets late into the night; telling the worst jokes you ever heard; huddling together to decide the best capture-the-flag strategy.

Friendship doesn’t need a high-tech interface. Don’t think your kids will get with the program? Check out this Seventeen article where teen girls share their favorite summer camp memories. Not one involves a cell phone, I promise!

Thanks to Pink_Sherbert_Photography and eron_gpsfs for the photos!


Is your child ready for summer camp?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

You’ve collected the brochures, visited the web sites, maybe you’ve visited a camp or two. You may have even have marked off a few weeks in July on your calendar. But you did it in pencil, because you just can’t get rid of that nagging question – is my child, my baby (sniff) ready for overnight camp?
There is no magic formula or age for camp, and every child is unique; but there are some tried and true signs of readiness. So before you pack the tennis racquets and the swimsuits, start by answering these five questions:

1. Is your child interested in and asking about camp?

Spring has just sprung – if your child is already asking about going away to camp, take that as a good sign. Children who are self-motivated and interested in attending camp have a greater chance of being successful once they arrive. Point your child to this: It’s My Life, a PBS web site for tweens, which has advice specifically for kids headed to camp. The site even encourages kids to talk to their families first. What mom doesn’t love that tidbit?

2. Can your child manage personal care needs and the tasks of daily living without mom around? On their own?

Overnight camp involves independent living. Does your child get dressed for school without your help? Can he/she fix themselves a snack? Take a shower? Remember to brush their teeth? If they still need help or daily reminders, you don’t have to keep them home (remember, your child will have great camp counselors to care for them), but you may want to encourage more self-reliance, a good quality to have at home, too.

3. How long has your child been away overnight without you? Was it a positive experience?

If your child loves sleepovers and slumber parties (at other people’s houses) transitioning to sleep-away camp may be a breeze. A week at grandma’s isn’t the same as three or four weeks at summer-camp; but if an overnight without you has never worked, do some trial runs before registering your child for camp. My own personal role model, Supernanny, has some great tips for making sleepovers a breeze.

4. Does your child have a healthy respect for adults and listen to instructions?

Life will be much easier for everyone if your child is good at following instructions and is willing to go along with camp rules. Just keep in mind that our kids often reserve their worst behavior for us, their parents, bless them. If your child is well-behaved in school, with coaches and other adults in positions of authority, they should do fine at camp.

5. Is your child willing to try new things?

Life comes at you fast, Ferris Bueller said, and the same is true for summer camp. Each day is filled with new people to meet, new surroundings, and new activities to try. For kids willing to give it a go, there’s no better place to spread their wings than summer camp.

The Bottom Line

No one knows your child like you do – even after you’ve completed all the quizzes and checklists and asked all your friends about their kids’ experiences, the best thing to do is trust your instincts. If you feel it in your gut that your child can handle overnight camp, you’re probably right. Get ready… summer is on its way!

Thanks to stevedepolo and peterblanchard for their pictures!


Got Caps?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Stack The CapsOver 26 feet of caps have been stacked by Camp Starlight in the two years since the inception of Stack the Caps. Now, Stack the Caps events are being held all over the country and we no longer measure a mile in feet but in caps. Thanks to events this year in Florida, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, we’re rising rapidly toward our goal. Even Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, and Lindsay Vonn got in on the action this winter by signing caps! But we need your help to make the annual event at camp this summer the best ever by breaking all previous stacking records. We think it would be fun to see caps that represent the diversity of our Camp Starlight family. So we’re asking everyone to bring a cap—or several–that represents you in some way. Hats bearing logos of colleges or high schools, favorite amusement parks or vacation destinations, home countries or cities, music artists or bands, etc. are a great way to give your Stack the Caps donation added meaning by sharing something that’s special to you with someone else. You can also make your donation a one of a kind by designing your own cap to stack. Just bring a plain white hat to decorate as part of the new Paint the Caps for Kids with Cancer event, which will be led by our CA’s. Remember, you’re not limited to just one cap. Bring as many as you want. We encourage you to get creative. Have a neighborhood drive or ask your friends and family to donate hats as well. The more hats we gather, the higher the stack gets!

Don’t forget, all donated caps must be new and unworn. For even more information on Stack the Caps events or to host your own, please visit us as or send an email to

Camper for Life

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

We’ve decided to kick off our brand new Camp Starlight blog with a few laughs. This first one is for all of you who think about camp 24/7, 365 days a year. Are you a camper for life? Not sure. Read on.

You might be camper for life if…

  • You have the dining room songs on your iPod and listen to them throughout the winter.
  • The day after camp ends, you begin marking off the days until it begins again on your calendar.
  • You sometimes spontaneously announce to dinner guests that it’s time to shake their napkins and then begin dancing around with yours.
  • You know what the phrase “living 10 for 2” means.
  • You had or have been to a camp themed bar/bat mitvah.
  • The first thing you do every morning is check the Starlight home page, the Starlight fan page, and Twitter.
  • You practice your audition for the Starlight Playhouse in front of a mirror throughout the winter.
  • You have a pool going for what and when the Olympic break will be.
  • You have strategized about rope burn all year and have produced pages of carefully detailed drawings and instructions for the perfect fire.
  • You packed your camp bag in January.
  • Your ringtone is Reveille.
  • You own more clothing with the Starlight logo on it than clothing without it.
  • You plan to or did get married at camp.
  • You’re laughing really hard right now because you’re qualified as a camper for life by more than one of the above.
  • You’re excited and proud to be a camper for life…and can’t wait to be back in the 18461.