Archive for February, 2016

Kayaking: the best way to explore the camp lake!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

UntitledIt’s hard to imagine Camp Starlight without the waterfront. Nothing embodies the camp experience quite like a crystal-clear day out on the water, paddling with your friends and exploring the open water.

There are plenty of watersports to choose from at camp: wakeboarding, swimming, and canoeing, just to name a few. But when it comes to “getting your zen on” in nature, kayaking is by far the best choice!

Riding low to the water makes the lake feel as wild and exciting as the open ocean, and the aerodynamic shape gives kayakers full control of their craft. Just be sure to bring sunglasses and bandana!

Building skills on the open water

Like all camp activities, kayaking gets a little more exciting every year. While younger campers get to goof around practicing paddling in straight lines and bumping into one another, older campers get to build practical skills like rolls and signal communication that allow more adventurous outings like kayaking down the Delaware River.

The “art and craft” aspect of kayaking makes it a camp favorite among counselors in particular, many of whom go on to lead kayaking trips and nature tours elsewhere when they aren’t at camp.

Safety skills and fun times go hand in hand!

Safety training is also a big part of kayak training, and every camper has to pass basic safety tests before they get to go goof around on the lake. In fact, mastering the “wet exit” — the trick of pushing out of your kayak if you flip over is easily one of our campers favorite skills to learn. “Once you’ve mastered the wet exit, the camp lake is your oyster!”

Safety doesn’t have to be boring, and truth be told almost everyone is sopping wet by the end of the kayaking activity period. (I mean, how could you resist when it’s hot out?)

Quiet life on the lake

With all the excitement to be had kayaking on the camp lake, the best part may be when it’s time to lay back and relax.

One of my favorite camp memories is of a quiet moment lounging on sit-on-top kayaks and watching the clouds while enjoying the gentle rocking of the lake. With all the high-paced sports and games going on around camp, kayaking is one of those activities that lets you get close to the “great outdoors” part of the camp experience.

Kayaking is not to be missed during your time at camp. Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy the moment — and bring plenty of sunblock!

9 Things I bet you didn’t know about being a Junior Camper

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

unnamedAs told through the eyes of someone who is glad to know…

By Dena Weiner Junior Girls Division Leader

As you prepare to send your son or daughter off to camp for his or her first summer, you must have so many things rolling around in your head. What will camp be like? How will they thrive without me? Will they make new friends? So many of the things you may be concerned about, turn into the triumphs of a new camper. What you will learn after a few phone calls, vague letters and tight “No, I won’t let go” hugs on Visiting Day, is that the independence they gain will be the most important thing they bring home.

So what are nine things they will learn at Camp Starlight this summer? Let’s start with the first day they get off the bus.

I bet you didn’t know that….

…as soon as their feet touch the grass, they are immediately welcomed by hugs, cheers and circles of new friends. This teaches children that camp is fun and friends are all around us. They also learn that the adults at camp are always their biggest cheerleaders away from home.

…camp is not only a place for kids, but there are others that live on the beautiful hills and lake of camp and they are happy to share their habitat with a zip code worth of people. Camp’s canopy is nothing short of amazing. Every child will take at least one nature hike. On this hike they learn about the flora and fauna of this incredible scenery. They will learn to appreciate what they see and they might even learn to hug a tree, save a spider or listen to the sounds that surround us.

…teeth will get brushed. It might seem like an impossible task to get 10 eight year olds to brush their teeth twice each day, but somehow this mission of importance commences each morning and night. Somehow counselors find time to brush hair, wash faces and hands. Eventually these “chores” become badges of personal growth.

…everyone finds something to eat at camp. Even the pickiest of eaters finds something to enjoy. Sitting down to a meal with a family of friends is a valuable experience that creates something magical. Children learn that talking about your day, setting table routines and having a place to just come together creates an environment that is hard to replicate. It is this feeling of give and take that helps children calmly break bread.

…they will make a new friend at camp. It will probably not be the person you expected. As parents we spend so much time planning their social calendars that we structure their friendships. At camp they get to choose who makes them smile and laugh. It is such a valuable component to being a new camper in a safe and supported place. It teaches them how to seek out the qualities in another person that are important to them. It is these friendships that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

…new interests will be developed. You might hear your son or daughter tell you that they like playing guitar, doing magic, hurling a lacrosse ball or sewing. They spend 10 months dabbling in extra-curricular activities and 2 months choosing other ones. Where else are you going to learn how to water ski? Every day’s excursions are priceless events. Trying new things teaches children to expect the unexpected and thrive outside out of their comfort zones.

…sunscreen gets applied, nails get clipped, knots get untangled scrapes get cleaned up. Even the Tooth Fairy comes to camp. Children learn that other people besides their moms and dads care for them too. Camp Starlight has lots of “mom & dads.” They are the people who make sure that no stone is left unturned and every need is met.

… sleep happens. Reluctant sleepers who crawl into your beds at night learn how to be self-soothers. Call it exhaustion from a long fun day or excitement for tomorrow’s surprises, but when the head OD checks in to make sure that bunks are quiet and asleep, they really are. Not a peep is heard except the sweet snores of mouth breathers. Children learn that they can put themselves to bed and this precious lesson is worth more than gold.

…talking face-to-face instead of through snaps, texts and instas is possible and fun. Face time will have a whole new meaning. Jacks and knock hockey will be played, songs will be sung and your child will learn to exist without an electronic device. They will even learn to remember fun times without a selfie.

What do these 9 lessons add up to? The self-sufficiency they learn becomes their self-esteem. How long can we cut their steak for them, scrub the shampoo out of their hair or buckle their seatbelts? They have to learn how to do these things by themselves. Remember how much we clapped and cheered when they took their first steps? Remember how much they clapped for themselves? We celebrated their independence. Camp parallels this experience. So as you unpack a summer’s worth of dirty socks in August, think about the steps those socks took. After the laundry is washed, the towels put away and the woodworking projects displayed on the mantel, the one thing that you won’t see in their trunks is their personal growth. You will notice it over time. Your eight year old will ask you for stuffed shells for dinner, they might call a friend in another state, they will brush their teeth without being nagged, and they might even clear their own plates. Consider these priceless gifts as you get them ready for the best summer of their lives!

From Camper To Counselor

Monday, February 8th, 2016

image1The first moment that I stepped off the bus in Starlight, Pennsylvania I got a feeling that I never would have had anywhere else. That feeling is now something that makes up a piece of my heart.

Starlight has given me opportunities that I otherwise would’ve never had. As a child, some of the most valuable lessons I learned were the ones I learned at camp. The most important lesson I learned was the value of true friends.

The girls in your bunk just become the people you spend summer after summer with and winter after winter missing. But as the years dwindled down and your time as a camper grew shorter, you realize that in life it is important to treasure the moments with the people who started out as strangers and eventually became family.

As I carry these friendships into my time as a counselor I embrace new friendships with those who are taking on camp for the first time. I have met people from all around the world with such interesting life experiences that I would never been exposed to had it not been for camp. This is something special that camp has to offer.

The relationships with your campers that you make throughout the summer as their counselor are unforgettable. The campers have the ability to push you to your limits and teach you things about yourself that you might have otherwise never known. Over the seven weeks of the summer you become their role model, a feeling that is indescribable.

As an former camper, I am given the opportunity to give back to Starlight and create lifelong memories for the campers like my counselors had once done for me. My favorite part of being a counselor is seeing the campers’ smiles throughout the summer and tears as they leave, because I know that I have made an impact on their lives forever.

Starlight is such a special place that will remain in my life forever. Every day at school I think about how each day that passes brings me one day closer to being at my happy place. Not every person gets the opportunity to have a home away from home like I do, so every second that I spent at Camp Starlight is a second that I cherish for the rest of my life.

Written by former camper Allix.


It’s just a camp thing!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.24.49 PM“It’s just a camp thing.” If you’ve ever been a summer camper or camp counselor, chances are it’s a phrase you know well. I mean, how else can you explain all the wacky traditions at summer camp?

From the absurd lunchtime songs to the campfire skits full of inside jokes, camp and school are as different as apples and orangutans. (And just like apples and orangutans, one is a whole lot more unexpected than the other!)

Here are just a few of the ways that camp is different from life at school! A word of warning: don’t read this list if summer is far away!

Yes, summer camp is that awesome. 🙂

Fact: “fun in the sun” is good for your health

You know that “fun in the sun” puts a smile on your face — but did you also know that it provides you with vitamin D, keeping your mind and body healthy?

Not only that, but some studies have even shown that time in the sun can combat a variety of common problems from depression to fatigue. Who knew!

Our “thesis” has always been that camp makes you happy. Turns out there’s some science to back up our hunches! 😉

A break from homework

Homework is a healthy part of your school experience, but it certainly won’t be following you out to Camp Starlight.

In fact, we have a strict anti-homework rule in place! (Just kidding — if you really want to do some multiplication tables or summer readying, be our guest! And more power to you.)

Learning still happens at Camp Starlight, but it’s all experiential learning. While math class is good for you arithmetic skills, the activities at camp tend to focus on building other skills: like leadership, compassion, and teamwork. Thankfully, playing games with your friends tends to be way more fun than practicing grammar rules before a test!

Learning at camp

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 4.38.53 PMJust because it’s far away from school doesn’t mean learning stops when you’re at summer camp. From team sports that build your communication abilities to craft workshops that get you in touch with your inner artist, camp activities are carefully designed to always be teaching you an important life skill.

Taking a break from “hitting the books” is great for making sure you’re fully charged for the next year, and all the activities and social opportunities at summer camp make it the perfect place to recharge!

Counselors vs. Teachers

Just like school, camp isn’t completely a free-for-all. Our team of highly-trained and passionate counselors are always on hand to make sure the fun and games go off without a hitch.

That being said, counselors and teachers have a few differences. If you’ve ever been in a big brother or big sister program, you probably have a good idea of what having a counselor is like. Someone who looks out for you, guides you through any conflict or questions you have about life at camp, and makes sure you brush your teeth a couple times a day.

The difference is, camp counselors act about 100 times more zany while they do it! Remember, we’re here to have the time of our lives!

…But don’t take our word for it. Come join in the fun!

The only way to truly discover how different camp life is from school life is to try it out. It’ll be different from anything you’ve ever done before, but we have a feeling you’re an adventurous sort anyway. Plus, you’ll finally understand what everyone means when they say “it’s just a camp thing.”

Those of you who are summer camp regulars, be sure to keep your grades up and hang in there. We promise summer will be here before you know it!