Archive for June, 2016

Favorite Moments at Camp Starlight

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016


Turning the corner to see the Camp Starlight sign was the best feeling I had since finishing school. While on the camp road I had butterflies in my stomach and I knew I was back at my second home. When I stepped off the bus I was greeted by my best friends who I hadn’t seen in months. My bunk is awesome and I love my counselors, I know it is going to be the best summer ever!

Signed, Upper Inter

I can’t believe that this is my last summer being a camper at Camp Starlight. Last night was the first campfire and it was a great way to kick off the summer. The traditions we have at Camp Starlight are truly special and I am so happy that I was able to take part in them. As each camper sang their divisional cheers, it brought back all my memories throughout my past 7 summers. I can’t wait to make memories this summer that will last a lifetime!

Signed, Upper Senior

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Today I got my camp sisters! Both of my camp sisters are older than me. One is a lower deb and the other is an upper senior. All of the girl’s side walked down to the camp fire holding hands. We sang our cheer and had s’mores! They were so good! I can’t wait to spend more time with my camp sisters!

Signed, Upper Junior

No Filter Needed at Camp

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.25.35 PMIn a world of selfies, Instagram likes and Facebook’s new “love” feature, people are putting more emphasis on taking a picture of an experience than really enjoying and living in the experience itself. We participate in an event (concert, party, sporting event, social gathering) but spend most of the time trying to get the most artistic angle, the coolest filter and the best overall image quality to generate enough likes (and now loves) to make us feel valued, heard and appreciated online. As we view life through the camera function on our phones, we are missing the big picture, by trying to get a good one.

Since campers don’t have access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of those picture collage apps while at camp, the pictures that are taken of them are real, honest snapshots of what they’re doing at camp. They can’t sit and stare at a screen and crop and rotate and edit a picture before they post it. They can’t over analyze how they look or worry about if the camera got them at their best angle. The picture will show them sweaty, messy, busy, and real. It will show the macaroni and cheese stain on their shirt, the crazy faces they make as they fly down the zip line, and the real, genuine look of accomplishment when they face a fear for the first time.

11539072_10152902437221960_8957652597744731094_oPosing for pictures at camp is beneficial for the campers’ self image. It helps them see what parents and counselors and family member see when they look at the pictures; real kids having real fun. It helps campers become more confident about who they are without the need to fix, edit, change, crop or filter anything out. Kids get so wrapped up in social media and how they are portrayed to the world, always comparing themselves to others and forgetting to appreciate who they really are. Self confidence issues happen when teens begin to think that the perfect images displayed on their friends’ Facebook profiles are real life, and they begin to compare their life with others. They forget that for the one perfect picture that was posted, there were probably 50 others that were taken that didn’t make the cut. Letting campers see what they really look like when they are really having fun will help them realize that a picture of a t-shirt stained, muddy shoe kid having the time of their lives is so much more valuable than a perfectly timed selfie in the bathroom.

Campers will also realize that they just don’t have the time to be playing photo editor while they’re at camp. From the time they wake up until lights out at bedtime, they’re constantly going and doing and playing and exploring. The pictures captured of them doing these things don’t need a filter or any edits at all. There’s no time for that at camp.

Promoting high self esteem for campers is something counselors take very seriously, but a lot of it happens naturally. Kids learn that it is okay to just be a kid, and that every moment doesn’t have to have the wittiest, funniest hashtag. When family and friends back home see pictures of kids at camp, they get a real snap shot into a summer full of real friends, real adventures, real laughs and real, life changing experiences. #nofilter.

The Junior Boy vs. The White Starlight Shirt: A Lopsided Battle

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Written by JJ Weiner

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 4.38.53 PM“How did that shirt get so dirty?” It’s the question that has been baffling Starlight parents for generations. Allow me to pull the curtain back and give you a glimpse of what happens to your son and that shirt during a typical day at camp.

That shirt is going to make three trips to the dining hall today. The junior boys are enthusiastic about their meals, but not all of them have mastered their utensils yet. If it’s pancakes for breakfast, you can be sure that not all of the syrup will stay in a neat dipping pile on their plate. Even though there is a napkin dispenser on each table, sometimes the shirt is just closer. Who really has time for napkins when you’re surrounded by your friends engrossed in a discussion about how great Polar Bear was this morning? And that’s just breakfast. At lunch there will be tomato soup and the dessert at dinner tonight is going to be watermelon. You do the math.

Junior boys lose things. It’s not due to any character flaws or personal shortcomings and it’s not because they’re overwhelmed by all their stuff. They’re eight years old. It happens. That shirt probably was crawling on the floor under a bed during cleanup to find a pair of earbuds.

The next stop for that shirt is the baseball diamond. It’s ground ball drills at Option today. The coach gave you one to dive for and you were happy to oblige. The great thing about Junior Boys is they don’t differentiate between a drill at Option and the seventh game of the World Series. Both get maximum effort.

If you have a few minutes after you come out of the water for swim instruction, there might be time for a sand castle. Junior boys are makers. That shirt will be with you when create a home for salamander that you discovered by the edge of the water.

During rest hour you might decide to join a few boys in the circle. That shirt will lie back in the grass and you’ll use those earbuds you found during cleanup and take a few quiet minutes to stare at the clouds.

It’s candle-making day at Arts and Crafts. You want yours to be a rainbow. A little dye might splash onto that shirt, but it will be worth it when you see the finished product. The counselors were helpful, but you still feel a great sense of independence and accomplishment.

That shirt will be drawn to Gaga during free play. The adrenaline rush is addictive. You’ll dive again. Your knuckles will get a little bit bloody, but there’s no way you’re getting out. You’ll wipe them on your shirt and keep playing. It’s that maximum effort thing again.

At night, that shirt will be part of a skit advertising a time machine. Your friends and counselors will erupt in laughter. A little bit of the face paint you used to turn yourself into an alien will migrate onto that shirt. It’s a small price to pay for the applause of an adoring audience.

This explains what happened to that shirt, but it doesn’t explain why your son loves that shirt. That shirt gives a sense of belonging and community. When you wear your Starlight shirt, you feel proud. Maybe you wore it to your first Wayne County game or maybe you wore it when you got a high five from a senior boy just for being you. That shirt represents an ideal society of freedom, friendship and fun. As a junior boy, once you get that feeling, you want to hang onto it. That shirt is now your favorite and even though it was supposed to go into the laundry, you’re probably going to wear it again tomorrow.



Waiting for Camp!

Monday, June 6th, 2016

IMG_2983 2Something changes in our schools once we get back from spring break. Our brains switch from “I need this break” to “summer is right around the corner!” In most states, the temperatures are rising, and all of us (and probably our teachers!) are counting down the days until freedom.

But to be honest, kids who are going to Camp Starlight have it the worst. Our anticipation, our anxiousness to hurry up and start the best summer of our lives has GOT to be 100 times worse than kids who are having an ordinary summer. They have sleeping in and video games to look forward to, but we have kayaking, rock climbing, campfires, mountain biking and waterskiing to do! We have old friends to catch up with and new friends to make. We have weeks and weeks of adventure and fun to look forward to, and the days until summer seem to just creep by!

Kids who are returning to Camp Starlight for a second, third or seventh time already have their bags packed with the necessities (and have learned that you really don’t need any more or any less than what they list of the suggested packing list.) Camp returnees have already reached out to friends from last year to rave about what is to come, and make plans to meet as soon as they step foot on campus. They know how much fun awaits them, and waiting to get back can seem like torture!

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 4.38.53 PMKids who are coming to camp for the first time have a different kind of excitement. They check and re check the website to get them fired up for what is to come. They are anxious about leaving home for the first time, but can’t help but smile at the idea of spending weeks away from home, trying new things and meeting new people. When people ask them what they are doing over the summer, they do their best to explain every single program and activity that is available, and have photos of camp in their bag to pull out at any moment and show anyone who is willing to listen.

The difference between the two groups is that the kids who are returning have a small part of them that is a bit more patient. We know the first day at camp will come, and once it does, the rest of the summer will be a total whirlwind. Days fly by in the blink of an eye, and before we know it, we’ve put on plays, played sports, faced fears, overcome challenges, laughed until we cried, learned to sail or wakeboard or swim, went camping, and then the day of tearful goodbyes will be upon us. They say “time flies when you’re having fun,” and nothing is more true than when you’re spending the summer at camp. Time seems to be on overdrive and goes by in a flash. But it’s worth it and it is what keeps us coming back year after year.

First timers think they know what they’re looking forward to, they think they know what awaits them, but a summer camp experience like this is something you can’t really understand until you experience it.

Something feels different in our hallways around this time of year. While we’re still focused on ending the year on a high note, half of our brains are already swimming, singing campfire songs, scoring homeruns, playing laser tag after the sun goes down and conquering the ropes course. Summer is right around the corner, and for kids who get to spend it at Camp Starlight, it can’t get here soon enough.