Archive for May, 2013

Signs It’s Almost Time for Camp

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

You’re counting down the time left in the school year in days, not weeks or months.

You start almost every sentence with, ‘When I get to camp…’

An area in your room has been designated as the gathering place for things you intend to take to camp—and the collection is starting to grow rather large.

You find yourself imagining that moment on arrival day when you step off the bus and your camp friends come running toward you

You’ve pulled your camp trunk out of its winter storage location.

You’ve already started your visiting day treat list.

You and your camp friends have started speculating about the names of this year’s Olympic teams…and whether this year you will be wearing blue or white during Olympic week.

Your stomach jumps every time a “camp song” from last year comes on the radio.

You and your camp friends have already started wagering about what this year’s camp songs will be.

You’ve started a mental “to do” list for the summer.

Staff has already started arriving at camp for the summer.

You chant Dining Room cheers at the kitchen table.

While reading this, you mentally tried to calculate how many more days there are until camp starts (24) because you can’t wait.

5 Tips for First Time Counselors

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

You’ve accepted the position and completed the paperwork.  It’s official!  You’re about to spend your first summer as a camp counselor.  Naturally, a lot of people experience a few nerves in the days leading up to camp.  After all, even when you’re a grown adult, leaving behind your family and friends to spend the summer in a strange place is a big deal, especially if you’ve never been away from home for an extended period of time before.  If you didn’t attend summer camp as a child, working at summer camp holds even more mystique because you’re not sure what to expect.  If first time counselor nerves are haunting you, don’t be so quick to call up and accept that unpaid internship filing paperwork in a stuffy office all summer and, for goodness sake, don’t accept that job at the hot dog stand in the local park.  Instead, follow these tips to kick your summer into gear now:

1.)    Relax!  You are NOT the only first time staff member coming to camp.  If you know no oneelse going to camp or have never been to camp, that understandably may be a pretty difficult concept to wrap your head around right now.  But trust us!  When you get to camp, you will be in good company.  If you’re feeling a little bit lonely when you first arrive, don’t panic and automatically assume you’ve made a mistake.  The majority of people who tend to be drawn to work at camp typically have laid back, easy going and open personalities with an extraverted bend toward making new friends.   Chances are that after your camp’s staff orientation period, you’ll have several new friends for life and wonder why you ever even doubted coming to camp.

2.)    Like your camp’s Facebook page and staff Facebook page if it has one.  Social media has arrived and most summer campsare completely aware that the easiest and most effective way to communicate with their camp staff is through means such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  By liking your camp’s pages, you can make friends before camp, pick up a lot of useful tips, and even possibly connect with a rideshare if you’re looking for a way to get to camp.  Most summer camps also now feature regular blogs.  It’s a good idea to pop onto the camp webpage every now and then in the weeks leading up to camp to see what new blogs have been posted.  Camps tend to post some blogs, such as this one, for which staff is the intended audience during the late spring and early summer.

3.)    Don’t over or under pack.  Packing lists are created by camp professionals who’ve spent enough summers at camp to know what you need to be comfortable for the summer.  So read over the staff packing list, if your camp supplies one, when determining what to pack as well as what not to pack.  Veteran staff members are also usually more than happy to field questions on staff Facebook pages, which makes them a good resource if you’re unsure about some items.

4.)    Arrive with the right mindset; being a camp counselor really is the hardest job you’ll ever love.  Camps tell prospective staff members this during the interview process…and they mean it.  You are about to spend the summer working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, and you will love most moments of it.  There will also be moments during which you will question how in the world you ended up working at a summer camp and why you thought it was a good idea.  Two things are essential to moving forward when these moments happen, and they’re actually most effective if you prepare yourself with them before you even get to camp.  First, arrive with the right attitude.  Yes, you’re there to work.  You’re there to work hard.  You’re also going to have a lot of fun creating amazing moments for and with your campers.  Second,  know what helps you alleviate stress or frustration and come prepared to engage in it should the need arise.

5.)    Be in the moment.  Yes, we spend our lives being told how important it is to plan.  But at camp, it’s very important to bein the moment and be present with the campers.  It’s how you’ll best appreciate the camp counselor experience as well.  Summer camp lasts only a few weeks each summer, and things tend to move very quickly.  On the first day, you’ll be looking ahead at a whole summer and thinking the end seems like a long way off.  But on the last day of camp you will wonder where it went.   Don’t find yourself with regrets on that day by realizing that you didn’t take advantage of every moment.

Eye on the Bullseye

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

As long as there has been summer camp, archery has been a part of it.  Although the amount of available activities at summer camp has grown immensely since the early days of camp, archery still remains popular.  It’s a classic outdoor sport that doesn’t require the stamina or athletic prowess of, say, soccer, but a good eye, good aim, and precision when firing.   There is a certain amount of satisfaction in being able to see yourself move closer to achieving a goal.  It’s not always apparent that your swim stroke has gotten better since the beginning of the summer, or that your baseball pitch has improved over the past couple of weeks.  Although your counselors and friends may compliment you and tell you that you’re better than you used to be, there isn’t really anything tangible for you to immediately be able to tell for yourself.  With archery, however, there is a target with a bull’s-eye on it.  It’s not at all unusual for campers to begin the summer not even being able to hit the target and then, as the summer moves along, hit and then inch closer and closer to the bull’s-eye.  The closer they get to that bull’s-eye, the more arrows campers want to shoot.

It seems like a small goal, and it is really.  However, it’s still an exercise in goal setting.  Hitting the bull’s-eye requires focus, and being focused requires you to survey your surroundings, determine where you need to aim, and then focus on the details as you attempt to hit your target.  Being successful at archery requires this same effort from everyone.  Campers have no advantage if they run faster, jump higher, or throw harder.  Every camper enters the archery range on a level playing field with the same potential for hitting a bull’s-eye.  Some get lucky, some work hard.  Either way, archery promises a path to success for anyone who is willing to set a goal, take aim, and work hard.  Perhaps that is why after decades of being a summer camp staple, archery remains one of the most popular activities.

The Other Packing List

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

It’s hard to believe that spring is here and camp is only a couple of months away.  If you haven’t started shopping around for packing list items already, chances are you’ll begin doing so soon.  Of course, every parent is aware of what’s on the official list.  But there is another packing list for camp, the unofficial one that includes items that come in handy for showing spirit, dressing up, birthday celebrations, and just taking advantage of opportunities to dress in silly outfits.  Your child may have already handed you a list of these items, but lest you doubt or are the parent of a new camper, here is “The Other Camp Packing List…”

Tutus. Nowhere outside the Bolshoi is a tutu a more valuable part of a girl’s wardrobe. From fairy outings to talent shows and even showing team spirit, tutus are a staple in camp wear.

White shirt for tie-dying. Tie-dying and summer camp are synonymous. No matter which camp your child is headed to, it’s a given that at some point during the summer, there will be a tie-dying activity.

Mismatched Socks. You can buy them mismatched or just take mates and mix them up. The crazier the pattern, the better.

Decorative Duct Tape. Think it’s only for handymen and hardware stores? As if anyone would repair anything with polka dot duct tape…At camp, it comes in handy for things like turning t-shirts into tank tops and making costumes.

Cool Letterhead. Camp is one of the few places at which people actually still write letters by hand…and getting those few precious words on interesting letterhead is all the more special.

A Crazy Hat…Or Two! Yes, some days at camp--in fact most days--this is acceptable garb.

Temporary Spirit Tattoos in Camp Colors and Logos. What better way to show team and camp spirit? Goes well with tutus, mismatched socks, and crazy hats, too.

A Stuffed Animal. Let’s be real. Most of us slept with a favorite stuffed animal into our college years.

Mustaches . It’s a camp thing!

Reading Material. It may be against your best hopes, but sending your child to camp with a bit of reading material could result in a positive outcome. Children have adequate time to read at camp. And without television, internet, and iPods, many of them do. Joke and puzzle books are particularly good bunk activity and conversation starters.

Counting the Days…

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

As the days get brighter and temperatures get warmer, the countdown to the summer of 2013 is getting closer! We know everyone is excited to return to the 18461.  It seems like everything reminds us of Starlight!

The month leading up to camp can seem like the longest, but all throughout the year we try to keep the energy of camp amongst our camp family. Our campers and staff are constantly writing to us about things in their everyday lives that remind them of Starlight.  We’ve seen photos of wacky mac at the grocery store, fellow Starlighters hearing “Can’t Smile Without” you on the radio, or and even spotted fellow camp people on television! It seems as if the Starlight community keeps expanding and we can’t go anywhere without hearing or seeing something that brings flashbacks of the wonderful place we call our summer home.

One of the best things about Starlight is the pride in which our campers and staff take from being a part of Starlight. They wear their Starlight T-shirts with honor to class, create everlasting friendships after camp with their fellow camp siblings, and even our staff bring their great friends to share the “experience of a lifetime” as it has been quoted in the past. These are the simple things that make us remember why Starlight is such a special place to be.

As the years go by and we look forward to each and every summer, it’s important to remember the memories we’ve had but to also be excited for the future! Less than 55 days until we all are reunited again! So, next time you’re in the car, walking down the street, or simply watching TV… keep you eyes and ears open because you might see something that brings back the nostalgia of camp!

We love to bring back the memories of the previous summers throughout our social media platforms. We hope you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates all throughout the year.