Posts Tagged ‘21st century skills’

Why Kids Need Camps Now More Than Ever

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Take a moment and look around you. Whether it be at a restaurant, at the movies, at a park, or in your own home, there is one constant that is found at all times with individuals; mobile devices. Phones, iPads, and other forms of technology have taken over daily life. It has become impossible to have a simple meal with family or a playdate with friends without the distraction of technology.

Before the influx of technology occurred, children used to ask for hands on presents that fostered creativity and adventure for holidays and birthdays. I remember the excitement I had on my seventh birthday when I received my first bicycle. Seven year olds today, however, receive iPhone 8s for their birthdays. While technology has a lot to offer individuals, it can have an extreme negative impact on the development of our youth. Creative impulses and a sense of adventure are diminished as children plug in their headphones and sit inside for hours at a time exploring their latest technology.

The solution to this lack of real living is simple: spend your summer at camp. Sleepaway camp offers children a seven week experience that they will never forget. In one summer, concrete memories will be made and lifelong skills will be acquired. Time spent outside in the fresh air with friends provides children with more tangible skills than a mobile phone ever could.

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace each and every day. Soon, our world will be filled with artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. The need to be independent will be diminished. This is why kids need America’s Finest Summer Camps now more than ever.

The Unique Camp Perspective

Monday, February 19th, 2018

One thing parents love so much about camp is that it takes campers out of their comfort zones in many ways. Not only are campers eating and sleeping in a new place, but they’re also trying games and activities that are new to them, and working with people they’ve never met. This shake-up of their routine does wonders for their social, physical, and emotional health. Camp also has a unique way of shifting the mindset of campers. A summer at camp is a summer away from social media and texting and a time focused on nature, real relationships, character building, and good ‘ol fashioned fun.

Camp Starlight immerses campers in a world unlike anything they are used to. It takes away a few modern comforts and conveniences and replaces them with things that are more low maintenance. Campers quickly learn the value of a one-on-one conversation with a trusted friend over having 50+ comments on their Instagram picture. They learn to appreciate the breezes, the vastness of the lakes, the sunsets and all of the natural beauty that surrounds them. They begin to see things differently, and this perspective stays with them even after they leave camp. Campers who used to find their joy in material things now look internally to find happiness, and this is a skill that will change their character and build their confidence.

Camp is a big place, full of big adventures and big fun. But in the midst of all of that, there are a million little things to be discovered, admired and appreciated. From quiet time on the lake before the camp gets crazy, to the beauty of a bonfire or the thrill of climbing the rock wall, campers learn to look for the little things that add up to make a big difference in their camp experience.

With social media playing such a huge role in the lives of kids and teens, many parents wonder if their child could survive without checking their Facebook or taking 20+ selfies on the way to school. Rest assured, parents, that without technology and social media to worry about, kids can focus on what they do best: being kids. They have the entire summer to focus on making friends and having fun and they learn that being in the moment is far more important than finding the perfect filter to capture the moment. Social media has its advantages of course, but at camp, camper’s learn a valuable lesson: their worth is not defined by how many followers they have or how many likes their pictures get.

Camp changes the way campers see the world. By spending their summers here, campers learn a little bit more about the world around them and how to appreciate the little things that make every day beautiful.



The Camp Community

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Going to a sleepaway camp not only transforms who you are as an individual but also has a profound impact on your life. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you will never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, true members of the camp community will tell you that it has changed their lives in ways that they could not have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationship you have ever had. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which in turn fosters connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your bunkmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed.

The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from the UK, Australia, South Africa, and the United States. The bonds made at camp carry over and continue to solidify throughout the year as counselors travel around the world to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it be the cheers, the campfires, or competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished.

Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at sleepaway camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, summer camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills, while on the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.


Taking Your Skills to the Next Level

Monday, February 5th, 2018

During the school year, dedicated athletes devote hours a day to their skill. Most spend time before and after school working on their strength, speed, agility, focus, and concentration. From the first day of practice to their final game, athletes see a significant improvement thanks to the time commitment they’ve put towards their sport.

But imagine what they could do if they had seven whole weeks to devote to learning, practicing and improving the sport or skill that they’re passionate about? Camp offers campers an extended period of time to focus on their craft in an encouraging and positive atmosphere.

Being trained and encouraged by the counselors at Camp Starlight is one way campers can improve their skills while at camp. Each sport and activity is lead by a counselor who is not only knowledgeable about what they teach but passionate about it as well. Learning from someone other than their school coach allows campers to see their sport or activity from a fresh perspective.

During the school year, students may get bored with the same old practice routines. At camp, the new environment and the new drills bring the game or activity to new life. This allows campers to experience the activity that they love so much in a different way.

Another reason camp is such a great place to progress in a particular skill is that of all of the positive encouragement campers receive from their peers. They can learn from those who have more experience than they do, and in turn, help those who are new to the game. As they make new friends each day, campers build a support system at the same time. There is something special about being cheered on and encouraged by people they didn’t know just a few weeks before!

Some campers come to camp to focus on one sport or skill set, but others like to mix it up. Seven weeks is a long time, and it’s a perfect amount of time for campers to experience new activities and improve upon many different skills. Campers don’t feel like they have to commit to one sport or activity due to time restraints. They can dabble in athletics for a few weeks, then get involved in the arts, and then spend the last week or so connecting with nature.

Whether they choose to work on a specific sport or skill or want to jump around and try a little bit of everything, a summer at Camp Starlight provides campers with plenty of time to take their skills to the next level.


Inclusivity at Camp

Monday, January 29th, 2018

At Camp Starlight, we strive to create a culture of kids and teens that respect themselves and others. Everything we do is based on giving young people every opportunity to interact with other people in a healthy and positive way. Every day, campers learn to solve conflicts, share their feelings, listen, and communities effectively; skills that are vital in becoming a productive member of society. And in a world where so many kids report feeling left out and alone, we’re determined to help create a culture of “includers.”

Inclusivity is a foundational element at camp, and from day one campers are taught the importance of teamwork and making everyone feel welcomed. In a place with this many people, there are bound to be personality conflicts, but we welcome these as opportunities to teach respect and acceptance. Everyone is welcomed to camp with open arms, and a friendly and welcoming attitude is instilled into everyday culture.

When we hire counselors, there are a few things we look for in regards to character and personality, and an attitude of acceptance, respect and inclusivity are some of them. Our counselors and staff are trained to lead activities that make everyone feel included, and to notice signs in campers that could signify that they’re feeling left out or lonely. Campers also see counselors interact with other groups and staff members and learn to model their positive and inclusive behavior. There is no “us vs. them” mentality at camp (unless it’s all in fun during a game or competition!) and even good sportsmanship and teamwork are a top priority.

One of the coolest things about camp is that the options for sports, arts, activities, and adventures are endless. There is not a one-size-fits-all type of camp; it’s a place where kids with all different levels of abilities and strengths can find a place where they belong. Everyone finds their place at camp, and is encouraged by other campers and staff to be the best versions of themselves.

Camp is a place where boys and girls feel like they belong. After a summer at camp, students head into the school year with an eye and a heart for others. They learn to build others up and make everyone feel included. If you were to take a peek at campers as they enjoy a meal, you’d never guess that they were strangers before; the connection and relationships that they build at camp are based on respect, communication, and inclusivity.

Camp: The Ultimate Career Prep

Monday, January 8th, 2018

The last thing kids are thinking about as they are running, dancing, jumping, singing, and playing at camp is what they want to be when they grow up. But counselors and staff at Camp Starlight know that the things campers experience and learn during this time in their lives can directly impact the adults that they become. Spending a summer at camp fosters valuable like skills in campers that can prepare them to enter the professional world.


Even if campers end up owning their own business or going the entrepreneurial route, they will still need to know how to work well with others. This is why learning to play well with others is such a valuable skill. Counselors lead by example and demonstrate practical communication skills, conflict management, compromise, listening skills and working together. Many camp activities require campers to work together in order to be successful. Campers learn to trust and encourage each other. Campers who feel confident working with others at camp build a solid foundation for teamwork in the workplace.

Problem Solving

One of the biggest characteristics employers look when they are hiring is problem solving. They want to be sure the person they hire can not only identify a problem, but also figure out a solution, often without needing much guidance or direction. Campers are given multiple opportunities throughout the summer to identify obstacles and find a solution. Whether they are solving a problem with a friend or learning a new athletic skill, problem solving happens all day at camp and is a valuable life skill for campers to build upon.


Nobody likes a quitter. In the workplace, employers expect employees to give their job their all, and not to give up when it gets hard. Pushing through obstacles and preserving through a difficult task is crucial for workplace efficiency. Campers are encouraged to stick with difficult tasks, even if it means walking away and taking a deep breath to clear their minds. Seeing a project through to completion is what will set campers apart from their coworkers when they enter the workforce.

Time Management

Time management is another important skill campers learn without even realizing it. While a variety of activities available for them to try, campers are responsible for planning out their day so they get the most out of each activity. Campers learn to factor in things like travel time between activities or how much prep time is required between events. Most employers don’t tolerate excessive tardiness, so learning the importance of being on time and early will help campers be successful in the real world. They’re also given opportunities to extend grace and courtesy to those who are running behind, and taught to exercise patience when things don’t always go according to plan. Campers learn to be flexible and understanding, while also learning how to prioritize important events during their daily routine.


For many campers, camp is the first time they will share a private space with a group of people they don’t know. They quickly learn to organize their personal belongings in a way that makes them easily accessible but out of the way of others. A clean and organized desk or workspace increases productivity and is a sign of respect when working close to others. Campers are expected to keep their personal space neat and tidy, and be respectful of the people that share their space. Learning how to be organized at camp can directly transfer over to being organized at home and in their future professional environment.

Spending a summer at camp is one of the best things you can do for the future of your child. It is a fun way to build character and prepare them for the real world. Campers learn valuable life lessons on a daily basis at camp, all while having the best summer of their lives. Camp staff is focused on developing the whole camper, and embrace the opportunity to prepare each camper for success. When they finally enter the workforce, campers will be prepared with the confidence and skills required to be successful.

Mindfulness at Camp

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Children and teenagers are constantly surrounded by stimuli. They are easily overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that surround them, and often don’t have the skills to be fully present and limit distractions. This is why more and more teachers and professionals are incorporating mindfulness into their curriculum. And why Camp Starlight has been doing it since the beginning.

Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Campers all have the ability to be mindful, but there are proven techniques to help them perfect their skill. At camp, we incorporate these techniques into every day living to help campers improve their focus and concentration. It helps them be present in the moment and hyper-aware of their body, their space, and their surroundings.

Camp is a busy, noisy, active place. The energy on the campus is undeniable and can be felt from the moment you arrive. However, camp counselors and staff highly encourage campers to take periods of time throughout the day to relax, stay quiet, and unwind. Some campers choose to journal, write letters home, meditate, or even sleep during this time. This critical “down” time allows campers to stay in tune with their thoughts and feelings, and reflect on the activities of the day.

Meditation is a big part of the mindfulness initiative, but there are other ways campers can learn to be mindful. Campers may find themselves waiting to take their turn for different things throughout the day. Waiting is an excellent opportunity to tune in to their inner thoughts and feelings. A quick breathing exercise or an intentional appreciation for the space around them is a great way to practice mindfulness. For many people, listening intently and carefully is a challenge. Sometimes we are thinking more about our response than actually listening to what someone has to tell us. By focusing on being better listeners, campers can improve their communication skills and be mindful at the same time.

One of the things campers learn quickly is the power of connecting with nature. It’s always incredible what a quiet walk by the lake can do to clear your mind of negativity, anger, frustration, or fear. Camp Starlight gives campers the unique opportunity to connect with nature. Observing the natural beauty that surrounds them can help campers feel calm and connected when things seem to be getting out of control. Learning the calming power of a nature hike at camp is a coping strategy campers take with them for the rest of their lives.

Camp may be a busy place with lots to see and do, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for campers and staff to get in tune with their thoughts and feelings. Teaching mindfulness is just another way Camp Starlight fosters future leaders, builds character and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Teaching 21st Century Skills in a Camp Setting

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Camp Starlight knows that the weeks we get to spend with campers each summer is precious. It is an opportunity to do character building and confidence boosting. We have the opportunity to be the backdrop for millions of memories and connect people who can grow to be lifelong friends. The work we do here, although disguised as fun, is serious. We use the limited time we have with our campers and use it to instill 21st-century principles that promote strong character, morals, and ideals in every camper.


When campers are guided on how to solve their differences through careful and respectful mediation, they are learning how to disagree with others without being mean or hurtful. When they can identify their feelings and communicate it with others, they are learning conflict management skills and maturing in their emotional development. These tools are vital in navigating the “real world” whether it’s their school campus, their first job or their first relationship. At camp, kids learn to respect each other, listen without interrupting, compromise, communicate, and be patient and considerate and honest. These principles will make it easier for them to maintain healthy relationships as they grow.


Each camper has a responsibility to keep the campus as beautiful as it was when he or she arrived. Our zero tolerance policy for littering and our emphasis on taking care of the environment helps campers realize how they impact the environment and how important it is to keep the world around them clean. Campers spend most of their days outside, connecting with nature and learning to appreciate the beauty around them. Exploring and enjoying Mother Nature doesn’t come naturally to all campers, and spending time at camp helps develop an appreciation for the environment.


At camp, each camper has a story to tell. Each child arrives at camp with a history, a background, baggage (no pun intended) fears, strengths, and perceptions. As campers begin to integrate with each other, they quickly see how different they are all, but how those differences don’t need to divide them. They learn to help each other; to recognize a need in other campers and address it. There is no “us” and “them” at camp. Camp Starlight is intentional about fostering a generation of helpers, includers, and givers. We know that if we want a world full of people who care about each other, who don’t judge each other and who seek out opportunities to make others feel good, we have to start with the kids.


Campers go home with more friends, better skills and a lot to talk about. But our goal is that each camper leaves a bit better than they came. And that we can instill basic morals and ideals into them that will help them become better students, siblings, friends, and eventually, adults. Camp is safe, camp is fun, and camp is designed to better the lives of campers and their families every year.

Learning to Look on the Bright Side at Summer Camp

Monday, November 20th, 2017

A silver lining can be defined as finding the hopeful side to any situation, no matter how gloomy. Silver linings are small blessings that can lift the spirits of individuals as well as put an instant smile on your face. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have an unlimited amount of silver linings that I can recall at any moment of the day to make it better. For twelve summers that I spent at Camp Starlight, I have had the opportunity to make memories, both big and small, that are impossible to forget. With each summer comes new bonds and irreplaceable friendships. After these twelve summers, I have the ability to remain positive and look on the bright side of just about any situation I am faced with. This skill is one that I have incorporated into my daily life in countless environments, both inside and outside of camp.


At Camp Starlight, small blessings radiate wherever you look. The support network is unprecedented in the fact that everyone in the camp community looks on the bright side. Whether it be helping to sweep the bunk before inspection, campers cheering a bunkmate on as she climbs the rock wall, or counselors reading a story before bed, the positive feeling of love and support ruminates throughout the camp environment.


While camp presents campers and counselors with this magical feeling of happiness, there are obstacles that are faced over the course of the summer. Changes in weather, homesickness, arguments, and disappointment is inevitable. However, camp provides its community with an opportunity to learn how to overcome these challenges by looking on the brightside. For every moment that appears to be gloomy, there is someone there to lend a supportive hug or helping hand to cheer you up. At Camp Starlight, the love between individuals is genuine and powerful. Being able to have real conversations and talk through difficult situations with friends and counselors alike is the silver lining that makes camp so unique.


These small blessings and ability to overcome obstacles at camp helps to prepare us for the daily routines we face during the other ten months of the year. Instead of needing help cleaning the bunk or feeling down after losing a sports game, campers and counselors are now faced with the challenges of school work and the professional world.


Philosophies learned at camp are ingrained in both campers and counselors as we remember the importance of remaining positive and supportive to those around us. These same campers that once needed help making their beds over the summer, now have the skill set and ability to support those friends in the classroom. This includes helping others with homework assignments, raising money for a school event, or even cheering on the school’s sports teams. For counselors in college and in the workforce, the attitudes and lessons learned at camp are easily transferable to all tasks. These can include pulling an all-nighter before an exam or meeting important deadlines set by your boss. It is the inner drive to look on the bright side that motivates campers and counselors to find a silver lining in all that they do.

How Summer Camp Cultivates A Growth Mindset

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Camp Starlight is focused on developing the whole child in a way that is healthy and fun. And although all of the running, jumping, swimming, climbing, dancing, and playing is great for their physical health, working on their emotional well-being, their character, and their self-confidence is just as necessary. This is why we put so much emphasis on having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.


By definition, people with a growth mindset “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”


Campers come to camp with the labels and expectations that the world has put on them, and many have come to believe that these traits, both good and bad, are just an integral part of who they are. Some have been told they are smart their entire lives, and their fixed mindset makes them believe that their intelligence is something that comes naturally to them and doesn’t require effort to improve upon. The same goes for athletic performance, relational ability, and their character. Campers who have been told they have anger issues will begin to believe that they are incapable of handling their anger; it is a fixed part of them that can’t be changed or improved upon.


At Camp Starlight, we focus on fostering a growth mindset in each camper. When they succeed, we praise their efforts by saying things like “you worked so hard at that” instead of “you are awesome!” Although the latter can be helpful to hear, hearing specific praise acknowledging the effort that the camper put into a specific task is more rewarding and builds their self-esteem. Camp staff and counselors work hard to praise the process instead of just the person. Campers will hear us say things like:

  • Tell me more about what you did
  • How did you figure that out?
  • Are you pleased with how it came out?
  • You must be so proud of yourself


We try to avoid labeling campers or putting too much emphasis on the labels they put on themselves. We want to encourage them to see themselves as capable and worthy of improvement in all areas of their lives. We want them to strive to be the best versions of themselves instead of being complacent with the label they’ve grown so comfortable with.


As campers step out of their comfort zones and try new things, they realize that they are capable of so much more than they thought and that their qualities, strengths, and abilities are not fixed. We want campers to be intrinsically motivated; to try new thing and preserve through hard things to feel good about themselves, not because they are seeking the approval of anyone else.


A summer at camp is about growing, maturing, and improving in all areas of life. Our goal is that campers leave with new friends, new experiences, and a stronger sense of who they are and what a valuable asset they are to the world. And it all starts with how they think about themselves.