Archive for December, 2011

Ropes Course: Lessons in Climbing High in Life

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

One of the most popular activity periods for Starlight campers every year is our ropes course. The highly trained and certified staff instructs campers of all ages in the art of scaling the rock wall, shimmying up the Star Jump, and leaping to an exhilarating ride on the zip line every day.  However, during these activities, campers are not simply learning the ins and outs of outdoor adventure. As they leave the ropes course each day, they take with them several lessons in life application.

Upon approaching the ropes course for the first time, Starlighters probably experience a few butterflies in their bellies. However, our staff spends time with them teaching safety procedures and climbing terminology.  They also, of course, pump them up with some pep talk. By the time the campers are fitted into harnesses and belayed up the wall, the sense of anxiety has disseminated  into excitement! When children secure their sneakers into the first step, they take a big step in life as well. Maneuvering the ropes course for the first time teaches campers to try new things despite having a sense of reservation about the unknown. The importance of instruction and preparation is a lesson in safety and demonstrates to campers, ‘Yes, we are going to have a blast! But it is critical to be ready and educated so that it is just as safe as it is fun.’

There are many other benefits to a period spent at Outdoor Adventure. At Camp Starlight’s rope course, you can always hear cheers coming from the ground up to campers advancing up the rock wall. Kids are constantly telling their bunk mates, “YOU CAN DO IT! TRY ONE MORE STEP!” and “WAY TO GO!” This experience is teaches the campers on the ground a valuable lesson in encouraging others. It also gives the climber a sense of support from other campers, and it bonds the group by giving them the opportunity to play both the encourager and receiver of praise. Whether children make it to the fourth step instead of the third like last time or they swiftly navigate to the top of the wall, there is a sense of accomplishment. When campers walk out of the gates of Outdoor Adventure they take with them the praise received from onlookers and the acknowledgement of their success, which is a vital boost to self esteem.

Summer Camp: The Perfect Holiday Gift

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

The holiday season is at hand and so many of us find ourselves searching for that perfect present for the children in our lives.  Sure there are Kindles, iPads, and Wiis, but we’re looking for the gift that will last far beyond fads and trends…the one that lasts long after the decorations have been taken down.  Have you thought about contributing to a summer at camp?  Not only is it a unique gift that gives back, it’s the gift the children in your life can enjoy months after the holiday season has ended.  Summer camp allows them to make new friends, to become part of a summer family, and to cherish memories that will last a lifetime.  It’s also the gift that will help them learn how to understand ritual, routine, and being part of something bigger than themselves.  Countless people of note have attributed the role of summer camp as an integral part of the people they ultimately became.  Denzel Washington credits his acting career to a summer camp experience.  Michael Eisner gives summer camp credit for shaping a large portion of his identity.

Sitting around a campfire, eating s’mores, participating in special events at camp, being part of a bunk making that special project in arts and crafts, learning a backhand in tennis, and scoring that homerun are the significant moments that build children’s lives.  It’s also the gift that children cherish for a lifetime.  Friends made at camp are friends for life and many present and former campers count their camp friends as some of their closest and most dear.   The memories and experiences from summer camp reach far beyond the scope of, ‘What gifts did I get that year?’  They reach into the realm of: ‘That’s what helped shape my life.’  President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama saw the value in sending their daughter Malia to summer camp last year.  Former President George W. Bush is also a summer camp alum.  Long after children have moved past smart pads and video game systems, they will remember their experiences at summer camp.  So this year, when you’re thinking of what to give the special children in your life, consider the gift of summer camp.