Archive for May, 2016

Why I Keep Coming Back

Monday, May 30th, 2016

unnamed-1Written by Scott

May signifies that summer is just around the corner, and with it, May brings events that we all look forward to.  May is National Barbecue and Hamburger Month, and it is also National Blood Pressure Month, which makes sense after eating Barbecue and Hamburgers all month.  May also includes many special days such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and everyone’s favorite No Dirty Dishes Day.  But, for me, I know it’s May because everyone starts asking one simple question, “What are you doing over the summer.”  This is a simple question with an even simpler answer, it is an answer I have now given for 27 straight Mays, “camp.”  It is the inevitable follow up to this question, “why?” which is not so easy to answer.

As a child it was easier for to people to understand why you would go to camp for the summer.  When I started at the age of 7, most people would just say “that’s nice” and secretly judge my parents for sending me away for eight weeks.  As I got older, people still understood for the most part, and just figured camp was something you grew out of when you went off to college.  When college rolled around there were more blank stares when I told my friends about my summer plans, with the occasional “oh, okay”.  Now as an adult I just hear “why?” as they look at me waiting for a response that will make them understand.

For a long time I would just say things like “it’s what I have always done” or “you just have to be there to understand”, but the real answer would take too long to explain.  “Why do I go back?” simple, each morning about 100 polar bears wake up 20 minutes early to jump into a freezing cold lake and then quickly get out.  I see five Broadway caliber shows each summer, maybe they’re closer to off Broadway, but there is a stage and costumes so it’s close enough. I get to watch people interact with each other all summer long without the use of phones or computers, eye contact and everything. Have you ever seen a group of teenage boys playing the world’s most intense game of European Handball with Rick Astley’s 1987 classic “Never Gonna Give You Up” blasting in the background, it’s glorious.  Do you know who Ed Stubbs is? No? That’s too bad. Becoming a three time Square Dance champion with Lou and Sue, while Roxy sleeps under the table.  Trying to eat dinner but can’t because pots are being banged, and napkins are being shaken.  Spending your summer on top of a mountain watching the most beautiful sunsets over the lake.  Seeing your campers grow up and return as staff, and be able to work alongside them.  Watching traditions as a camper, like candlelight interfaith services and then participating in them as a counselor.  But, the main reason that I keep going back is that after 27 summers I still get that excitement I felt when I was seven.  Each summer is filled with new people, new experiences, and new memories, but most importantly the sense of family, which has only gotten stronger each and every summer.

I guess this would probably be confusing for someone who has not had the “Starlight Experience” to understand.  So, for the time being, I will probably continue to give my stock answers to their question of “why?”.  But, I think there is a more important question that needs to be asked to these “why” people, “Why aren’t you going to camp this summer?”

Fitness at Camp Starlight

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 1.24.27 PMThere are quite a few things that have seen rapid growth over the last several years, including Justin Bieber’s popularity, SnapChat and Disney’s Frozen. However, there is something that is taking over America’s youth at a frightening speed, and it’s not as light and fluffy as Elsa or The Biebs; it’s childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has seen a dramatic increase over the last 30 years, and more and more children are struggling with health issues because of their weight. Excessive weight gain in kids and teenagers can be blamed on hormones or genetics, but a major reason kids are overweight is because they are sitting in front of TV screens and laptops instead of getting outside to play. At Camp Starlight, kids spend all day on the go, and many have seen a dramatic change in their weight and overall health because of it.

Many campers spend their days out on the water. Swimming, water skiing and water aerobics are just a few of the ways that campers stay busy and moving throughout the summer. A lot of the favorite waterfront activities require using muscles that kids aren’t used to using, and helps them tone muscles and lose weight, without even knowing they’re working on it. These activities are great for kids who don’t naturally gravitate towards traditional sports and fitness activities, and for those who have a natural attraction to the water.

For those who do love sports, Camp Starlight has plenty of options. Natural born runners will love participating in running and triathlon sports, kids who like being part of a team will feel right at home playing flag football, soccer, lacrosse and softball. Regardless of which sport they try, they will be surrounded by counselors who have a heart for the sport, who are focused on fitness, and can motivate and inspire campers to make healthy choices.

Tennis is another camp favorite, and burns more calories than cycling, skating or aerobics! It is a sport that requires speed, flexibility and agility, and is a fun and easy way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

And when campers aren’t participating in organized sports or activities, counselors put together games that combine team building, socialization and physical activity. Campers are always on the move, working up a sweat and burning calories, and it’s all disguised as good ol’ fashioned fun.

The food served at camp is both delicious and nutritious, and is carefully planned to fit in with the camper’s high activity levels. Salad bars, soups, healthy sandwiches, fresh veggies, and vegetarian options give kids the opportunity to eat foods that taste great, and help them achieve their fitness goals.

Kids who spend a summer at camp come home with a few more things than they left with. They come home with more friends, a deeper appreciation for their own health and wellness, and the confidence to make healthy choice and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Camp Starlight: My Summer Home

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

UntitledWritten by Madison Dratch

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” -Margaret Peters

In June 2006, I arrived at Camp Starlight for the first time with teddy bear in hand and a nervous smile on my face. As other campers ran off the buses and embraced one another with love and the utmost excitement, I stood anxiously, unaware of the impact that these three hundred eighty five acres of land would have on my life.

Through my six summers as a camper, I discovered more about myself than I thought possible. I slowly grew out of my shell as I tried playing new sports, auditioned for plays at the rec hall, and established new friendships. I learned how to work with teams and handle conflict as my bunk strategically choreographed what we believed to be the best MTV night dance in Starlight history. Although my love for camp continued to grow with each summer that passed, so did the dread of thinking about the day that marked my last moments as a camper. In August 2011, I cried for the last twenty-four hours that made up my Upper Senior Summer. As my bunk said our final goodbyes, we knew that we no longer would all be able to sleep in the same cabin again, spend every meal together, or coordinate our sugar lips and soffe shorts to all match perfectly. Gone were the days of relying on our counselors to get us to wake up at reveille, clean our bunks in time for inspection, and make sure we follow our schedules perfectly. The book of being a camper officially closed and it was time for me to start a new adventure as a staff member.

Wearing a staff shirt for the first time provided me with the same nervous feeling I had getting off the bus on the first day of camp so many years ago. As a camper, I idolized the many counselors that had mentored me through the years. Now, I was on the other side of the fence and had to be the role model that my campers needed me to be. All feelings of anxiousness diminished the moment I stepped into my new bunk and saw eleven young hopeful faces staring back at me. I don’t know how it is possible, but working as a staff member provided me with an even more rewarding experience than all of my summers as a camper combined. The immense pride I felt and continue to feel when my campers achieve milestones in their lives speaks volumes of the impact being a counselor has on my life. I remember the joy I felt when my campers won their first Wayne County Softball game. I remember the intense process of memorizing lines when my camper starred as Peter Pan followed by the overwhelming feeling of fulfillment when she perfected every line and song on Opening Night. Fast forward four summers filled with four unique bunks and irreplaceable memories, the once young and hopeful bunk of eleven ten year old girls are now entering their Lower Senior Summer. The girls that once needed me to tie their shoes and brush their hair have now grown into young ladies capable of extraordinary things. Being able to witness this growth is one of the greatest privileges of all.

A decade has passed since that nerve-wracking day and although the teddy bear still remains, my perspective of camp has changed tenfold. Free from the world of small digital screens and ongoing pressures, Starlight allowed me to be the person that was fighting to break free. At Starlight, I am an athlete, a performer, a leader, and a friend. No feat is too small or too challenging to overcome when you know that you have a support network of hundreds of people behind you. Through the vast changes and turns that have happened in my life, Starlight has remained a powerful constant.

As I sit in my accounting class and recognize how fast summer number eleven approaches, I am filled with an anxious feeling again. Except, this time, it is not a nervous anxiety at all. It’s that overwhelming feeling of excitement where you know that this summer will be even better then the last. That familiar feeling that Starlight has given me since the first time I saw the place that I am privileged to call my home.