Archive for March, 2016

Going on a Hike… More than Just Good Exercise!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.49.18 PMWhen you hear the words “summer camp,” you probably think of three things right away: campfires, friendship — and nature.

Without any of these essential elements, camp just wouldn’t be the same. Spending much-needed “digital detox” time in the woods is what brings many of us back year after year, so it’s no surprise that hiking in the natural areas around Camp Starlight is one of the most popular activities each summer!

There’s nothing like fresh mountain air to remind us of the things that matter in life.

The healing power of nature

Hiking is a serious workout, but it isn’t just about “building character.” Life on the trail has many proven emotional and health benefits that make it a wonderful way for campers and counselors alike to pass the afternoon.

For example: did you know the average person only walks half as much as doctors recommend for a healthy lifestyle?

This is particularly unfortunate for kids, many of whom aren’t spending nearly enough time outside. Aside from missing out on the emotional benefits of sunshine and endorphins, it’s no mystery to parents that time spent in front of iPads and Playstations is rarely time well-spent.

Needless to say, everyone gets in plenty of exercise out of an afternoon in the woods!

Connecting with the natural world

But it isn’t the health benefits of hiking that get campers excited about getting out on the trail. Quite the opposite: in the high-energy world of camp sports and games, hiking is a perfect slow-down time.

New friends can use the time to talk and get to know one another, and others can use the time to “zen out” with the forest and enjoy the experience of being out in the wild.

With so many campers coming from urban and suburban areas, time spent hiking around Camp Starlight may be a first-time experience with the peace and quiet of the woodlands!

The journey is the destination

Like all the activities at summer camp, hiking contains many lessons that strike to the core of what the camp experience is all about.

Most importantly, campers are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination. The summit may be spectacular, but the best part of hiking come from the camaraderie and togetherness of tackling the trail — and the pure value of experiencing the great outdoors.

Life is like a trail, and every journey begins with a single step. Whatever your dream may be, it’s waiting for you at the top of the mountain. The journey may be long… but there’s no reason to make it alone! Stick with your camp friends and you’ll be there before you know it!

How Camp Teaches You To Always Plan Ahead

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Going to summer camp is more than just an unforgettable week away from home with your friends — it’s also an investment in your skills, character, and future. Summer camp teaches every camper a slew of critical life skills including organization, leadership, and time management.

Here are just a few of the ways campers learn to plan ahead while enjoying the fun and games at Camp Starlight!

Navigating camp activities

11411756_10152924528446960_8550865432487014513_oPracticing how to plan time for cleanup, getting around camp between activities, and bringing the things you need to complete each activity doesn’t just prepare campers for sports, crafts, and sailing — it prepares them for the hectic pace of life outside camp, from school all the way to college!

Days at summer camp tend to be packed with activities, from waking up at dawn to falling asleep at dusk, and being on time for each of your activities ensures that you will have enough time to have the maximum fun possible. Learning to balance so many activities in a busy day is certainly one of camp’s biggest challenges, but with a little bit of practice everyone gets the hang of it.

After a full camp schedule, your school schedule will probably feel easy. After all, getting from one class to the next isn’t nearly as difficult as making it all the way from the archery range to the arts and crafts center!

Planning Skits and Talent Shows

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.30.52 AMMost campers choose to participate in either a skit or a talent show at some point during their session. Usually, skits and talents are created and practiced during free time and rest periods. Campers have to find a time in their daily schedule to plan their skit, create props, and practice with other campers.

The incremental process of preparing performances helps campers build experience planning group projects and break down large, complex homework assignments into more manageable pieces, so they can complete a little each day.

Counselors love helping campers plan for skits, because it’s a chance to teach important life lessons about approaching a challenge. The secret to camp performances is taking one small step at a time.

Completing a Cookout

Cooking out over a campfire involves quite a bit of planning. Not only do you have to decide on a meal and order your ingredients from the kitchen ahead of time, but you have to divide cooking tasks such as food prep and fire tending between your group and make sure you start early enough for your meal to be served on schedule. Being a cook is hard! (But super rewarding, especially over a traditional open fire.)

Your cookout experience will teach you to value the importance of planning your projects in detail before you start them. While most of your school projects will not end with a tasty, fire-cooked meal, the feeling of accomplishment after detailed planning will no doubt remind you of your camp experiences.

Looking to the future

Camp is filled with experiences that teach campers to plan ahead. From keeping your bunk clean (for the sake of your roomies!) to completing challenges in a ropes course, you will have plenty of opportunities to create plans and see the results of your effort.

While not everything may work out the first time — it’s not a big deal to be late to an activity or burn your dinner once in a while — you will eventually learn what type of planning works for you, and be able to apply your experiences to the rest of your life. Campers love to live in the moment, but they always have one eye on the future. With a little bit of planning, every second of camp is a blast!

How Camp Helped Me Live A Balanced Life

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 3.22.20 PM 1If you were to ask the adults in my life to describe me in one word, they would probably say “focused” or “disciplined” or “passionate.” This would be their nice way of saying I focus on one thing and one thing only, my grades. Now of course this makes my parents really happy, and they are proud of all of the A’s I bring home on my report card, and are excited about all of the opportunities I’ll have after high school. But they also realized that something was a little off balance. The time and energy and stress that I put on myself and my rising GPA left little room to enjoy other things typical teenagers should be enjoying, like art, sports and friends and a book other than a textbook. But when I leave for camp every summer and say goodbye to my calculators and textbooks I try to some balance.

The second day of camp, I found myself balanced. Balanced atop a shaking rope, a hundred feet off the ground, with sweat running down my face. I had been encouraged to try the ropes course, and one shaky foot in front of the other, and with a crowd of pretty much perfect strangers cheering for me, I faced my fear of heights and made it all the way across the challenge course. I was pretty sure this was not what most people mean by finding balance, but it did give me a rush and helped me face a fear.

As the days flew by, my hours were packed with activities and events that I never would have tried back home. Instead of passing up on social activities to study, I was racing from tennis matches to pottery class and then to the lake for a swim. People were asking ME to be on their team, to hang out with them and to try something new with them. And they were doing it because they liked hanging out with me, not because they wanted to copy my homework or get answers for a test. That was such a great feeling!

At the end of the day, during quiet time in our cabins, I would write down everything I had done that day. I began to see that my likes and interests were broadening, and that each day I was involved in many different areas. I was being creative in the morning, athletic in the mid afternoon, pensive and reflective in the late afternoon (with my quiet time by the lake) as well as social, independent and confident all day long. I began to see how much I was missing at home by focusing all of my time and energy on one thing.

Now, if you ask the adults in my life to describe me, they’ll say “always on the go” or “diverse” or “busy!” And it’s true, camp helped me realize that while grades and education are still at the top of my list, it doesn’t have to be the ONLY thing on my list. I’m thankful for my time at camp, and that it opened up windows for me to live a healthier, more balanced life.


Camp Starlight Year 15

Friday, March 4th, 2016

IMG_2983 2Written by Megan Panelas

This summer will be my 15th year working at Camp Starlight and every year people ask why I return summer after summer. I usually give the short answer of “it’s my second home,” but thought I would share the long version this time around.

Camp Starlight is a very Special place. Camp is a place where time slows down. It lets everyone take time out of their busy lives to really just be themselves. Both staff and campers can be who they truly are. It is amazing to watch campers in the camp atmosphere gain confidence in a nurturing environment. Each summer as they come back they truly gain a better sense of themselves. They belong at camp and they are part of the community that we, the staff, strive for. Through the program that has been developed at camp, each age group has their own set of traditions that they contribute to the Starlight community. It is amazing to watch their progression. From the junior enthusiasts who live and breathe camp and have so much fun, to the inters, who embrace the fun they are having and make lifelong friends. Then to the upper camp debs, who really learn more about themselves and bond to create more of a community atmosphere, and the seniors who have become a family. The Upper Seniors take on the role of helping the juniors have fun through a few special events. This cycle continues and is so strong at Starlight that many return as Counselor Assistants (CA’s) and then as counselors.

This is the part that I am now enjoying the most. Campers that I met when they were 7 and 8 are now counselors in the lower deb division with me. This truly is a full circle community. These campers turned counselors are the essence of camp and often make campers summers even more spectacular. I have had the joy to watch so many campers grow on a summerly basis, becoming exemplary staff and mentors over time.

Every camper is unique and may enjoy a variety of different things and camp has the opportunities to flourish in a million different ways. From being center stage, to being on a Wayne county team, from winning a race for the swim team to finally mustering up the courage to do the zip line, from launching rockets to scoring a goal in a league game and from dance parties to divisional campfires, there is something for everyone. It is finding that passion in each camper and helping them excel to have the best summer, every summer, as they grow and are true citizens of the Starlight community.

Being a part of this Community, and watching it grow is astounding and I just can’t stay away. I have become a part of it. Wabam.