Posts Tagged ‘21st century skills’

Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Summer

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Everyone remembers his or her first summer at camp. They remember the countdown until the big day, the careful packing and the butterflies as they arrive at camp. When you arrive at camp for the first time, you have many questions and uncertainties. You’re curious about the games you’ll play, the food you’ll eat, and how you’ll like sleeping in a cabin. But before the first day of camp is over, most campers are settling in and finding their groove. If you ask most campers about the things they wish they would have known before their first summer at Camp Starlight, this is what they would tell you:

Camp friends become best friends

There is something about spending every day with the same group of people, experiencing so many “firsts” together and connecting over shared experiences that often combine to create lasting friendships. Camp friends become best friends because the entire summer is spent in such tight community, that it is almost impossible not to form long-term relationships with many of the people you meet at camp. You enter your cabin as strangers, and by the end of the summer you’ve shared stories and secrets and inside jokes, you build trust and encourage each other and listen to each other. Camp friendships aren’t tainted by social media, they’re organic relationships built on shared interests and experiences, and they often last a lifetime.

Being outside all the time is amazing

Some first-time campers worry about spending so much time away from home and away from their beloved smartphones. But if many campers knew all of the benefits of spending time outside and away from their screens, they’d be excited about all of the outdoor adventures waiting for them at camp. Camp Starlight is set on beautiful acres of land, surrounded by beautiful natural landmarks. Spending extended time outside allows you to soak in Vitamin D, breathe in the fresh air, and is great for your mental health. Any campers nervous about the amount of time spent outside at camp will quickly learn that camp is the best place to connect with nature.

There’s no need to be nervous

We know spending a summer away from home can be a little nerve-wracking, but veteran campers would tell you that there is nothing to worry about. Campers who let their nerves get the best of them miss out on some great camp experiences. Counselors work hard to make each camper feel comfortable and at home as soon as possible. While it is normal to feel nervous when trying something new, it’s important to remember that camp is specifically designed to be the safest, coolest, most exciting place for kids and teens to spend their summer. There is a 0% chance that you’ll have a horrible time at camp, so there is nothing to worry about.

Teamwork makes the dream work

The sooner you learn to lean on your fellow campers and counselors and work together, the more fun your camp experience will be. The people you share a cabin with quickly become like family, and counselors become trusted role models who work to ensure you have the best summer possible. The summer camp experience is meant to be shared, and you will have much more fun when you work together with other campers and counselors. New campers may be hesitant to ask questions, but if they know how ready and willing seasoned campers and camp staff are to help, they’d feel a lot better about seeking out help. Everyone at camp is there to help each other!

It would be the time of my life!

You will have many assumptions and expectations about your first summer at camp, but there is one thing you can know for sure: you will have the time of your life! Most campers get a general idea that summer camp is designed to be a fun place to spend a few weeks, but if you knew what was truly in store for you, you’d be jumping up and down to get here! Seasoned campers can tell you until they’re blue in the face about how life-changing summer camp can be, but there’s only way to really experience it, and that is to sign up for your first summer camp experience!

There are many things you don’t know about camp until you get here. You won’t know many of the camp traditions, how to sing the songs, the fastest way to get to your cabin, or what activities to try. There will be many questions and a lot of things you will have to learn along the way, but if you can come to camp knowing these five things, you’ll be ready to jump into the camp experience!

 

 

Why Campers are Thankful for Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and think about all the amazing opportunities and qualities in your life you are grateful for and appreciate. A time spent with family, Thanksgiving reminds everyone to say what they are thankful for and to thank others for positively impacting their life. To celebrate this holiday, here are a few reasons campers are thankful for Camp Starlight.

  1. The Friendships: Camp Starlight is an environment that helps friendships that last longer than the summer bloom for campers. Camp friends are people you can truly rely on and think back fondly on. Camp friends are always there for you no matter what time of year which we are truly thankful for.
  2. The Counselors: The counselors at Camp Starlight push all the campers to go outside of their comfort zone. Whether it’s encouragement to make a new friend, instruction at activities, or the advice that’s given when needed, campers are thankful for the love and care our counselors provide
  3. The Fun: The campers are consistently thankful for the crazy fun they get to experience all summer long. From Evening Activities, to Krispy Kreme S-Days, and cheering for blue or white during Olympics, the campers really get to bond during special events. Campers are thankful for the memories these event creates.
  4. The Beauty: The lake at Camp Starlight hosts a myriad of activities and provides campers with a simultaneously exciting and relaxing space. The sunsets every evening at the lake are breathtaking and reminds campers how Starlight’s scenery is beautiful.
  5. The Memories: Thankful for all the amazing memories created summer after summer. From laughing hysterically with bunkmates, making a new friend, the opportunity to be the main character of the musical or nail a bulls eye in archery, campers are grateful for all the special memories each summer.

 

 

Camp Now More Than Ever

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

There is something about spending the summer at a sleepaway camp that allows kids and teens to connect in a way they just can’t at school. Maybe it’s the extended time they spend together or the fact that selfies and Instagram and the social media comparison epidemic is taken out of the equation at camp. Whatever the reason, campers are able to interact and build relationships on a deeper level at camp than they can at school or on sports teams at home.

One of the major reasons campers can form such strong bonds in such a short amount of time at camp is because they’re unplugged. They are not distracted by putting filters on their Instagram pictures or obsessively tracking how many likes their status update receives. Instead, they’re having real conversations and real experiences that trump scrolling through social media any day. Since their faces aren’t glued to a screen, campers can actually look at each other and talk to each other, and it re-enforces the power of human connection.

Another reason campers connect on a deeper level with other campers is because of the extended time they spend together. While kids spend a majority of their day at school, most of it is spent in the classroom, with pockets of time throughout the day where they can freely interact with their peers and work on building relationships. At summer camp, communicating and building relationships is all campers do. From the moment they wake up until “lights out” campers have two jobs: have fun and make new friends. This is why camp relationships are so strong from the get-go because campers have nothing but time to work on establishing trust and friendships with their peers.

Many campers who attend Camp Starlight are active in sports teams and clubs at home. But at home, when the game or practice is over, the team goes their separate ways. At camp, you walk off the field with your team AND your opponent and make s’mores around a campfire together. This time spent together strengthens relationships of teammates and helps establish healthy attitudes towards competition and sportsmanship.

Camp builds community because camp is a community. At school, students are usually focused on trying to find the little group that they can fit into. At camp, everyone is in the same group. Of course, individuals find their own smaller circle of friends, but at the end of the day, around the campfire, everyone is a camper. Everyone is there for the summer of their lives. Lifelong friendships are started at Camp Starlight because of the traditions, memories, and experiences they share.

It is common for campers to comment on the differences between their school friends and their camp friends. There always seems to be something a little more intimate, a little more solid in their circle of camp friends. Probably because these friendships are based on shared experiences, honest communication and quality time instead of Instagram followers and Facebook likes.

Happy Halloween from Camp Starlight

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

When you go to camp it’s basically Halloween all the time! At Camp Starlight, there are so many opportunities where campers can express themselves by wearing a costume! We encourage our campers to be silly, the sillier the costume the better! Whether it’s wearing a crazy outfit on your birthday or your bunk just deciding to all wear your hair in a crazy style for the day, dressing up is just a normal part of everyday camp life. A tutu has become an acceptable outfit no matter who you are. Some of the most favorite special events and evening activities involve dressing up. Campers love themed dance parties, camp plays, getting decked out in blue or white for 5 days of Olympics. Camp reminds us that you’re never too old or too cool to dress in a costume. We wish we didn’t have to wait 8 more months to dress in costumes again!

What’s Your Favorite Part of Camp?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

When asked the question, “What’s your favorite part of camp,” I am sure many campers would say everything. Personally when I get asked the same question my response is everything as well. But what does everything really mean? Is it the sunsets on the lake every night? Is it the reveille that wakes me up every morning? Is it the laughter that I share with my friends every day? Or is it all of the small moments that count just as much as the big ones? Over the previous summers here at camp I have finally found the meaning of everything, which is a combination of each and every laugh, smile and memory made at this place. Sometimes small moments can go unnoticed, however appreciating special moments here can go a long way. When I was younger the walk to alumni field from my bunk was a long and tiring experience. The struggle of putting on shin guards then the socks and finally the cleats was a difficult process as an 8 year old. Now, as an upper senior the time spent putting on the equipment and walking to the field is all worth it. Searching for my shin guards, doing cartwheels to alumni, and the little thrill you get when you walk down the steep hill leading you to the rocks or being greeted by Whatley greeting us on the field are all the little things at camp that I appreciate. So, the next time you are asked about your favorite part about camp, take a moment to think about the times you’ve cherished and appreciated no matter how big or small the memory may be because, the underestimated moments are what make you appreciate everything that this camp has to offer.

Written by Chloe (Lakehouse C)

How Camp Fosters Independence for Parents and Children

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Spending a summer at a sleepaway camp is a fun way for campers to gain a new sense of responsibility and independence. For many campers, their first summer camp experience is their first experience away from home. As they learn to navigate a new place, adhere to a new schedule and new rules, and adapt to many new personalities, they gain a sense of independence that will help them mature and grow in new ways. However, the kids aren’t the only ones who do some growing over the summer. When parents say goodbye to their kids for the summer, they get to see the result of all of their hard work, modeling, and teaching as their children go off without them. Although it’s a bittersweet moment, it’s a milestone for both parents and kids.

How Camp Fosters Independence In Children

Without their parents by their side, campers quickly learn that they are responsible for themselves. While counselors are around for guidance and support, campers are given clear expectations at the beginning of camp and are expected to follow these guidelines without being constantly reminded. Things like keeping their space tidy, respecting quiet time and mealtime rules, getting to places on time, and maintaining their personal hygiene are their responsibilities. They get a taste of freedom while still being carefully supervised. They are given the privilege of free time, in which they can pick which activity they’d like to do. They learn quickly that as long as they don’t abuse this privilege, they have many freedoms and choices in regards to their camp experience.

And while camp provides many sports, events, and activities to keep campers entertained, there are parts of the day that are unscheduled. Being at camp teaches campers how to productively manage this “downtime” without needing to be constantly entertained. Campers also learn independence during meal times, as they pick what they want to eat and are responsible for making healthy choices, not wasting food, and cleaning up after themselves.

Meeting new friends is part of the traditional sleepaway camp experience, and even this aspect of camp helps foster independence in children. Starting conversations with strangers, working well with others, resolving differences with respect, and being inclusive of others are all things campers experience at Camp Starlight. They do most of these things on their own, and the relationships they build are authentic and based on their own personal connections with their peers. For many of the younger campers, their parents are still very active in creating social connections, but at camp, they learn to make friends all on their own.

What Camp Does For Parents

It’s common to see parents a little teary-eyed as they say goodbye to their kids on the first day of camp. It’s a significant milestone; trusting your child to go off into the world and hoping you’ve equipped them with everything they need to be successful. Thankfully, this is camp, not college, and your children will be surrounded by people who can help guide them and steer them towards positive decision making.

By “letting go” for the summer, parents have time to reflect on the types of people their children are becoming, and can finally see the results of all of their hard work as parents. Seeing how successful your child is at camp can help you feel comfortable giving them more responsibilities and freedoms at home. Hearing about how you child felt confident making their own choices and decisions at camp and how he/she enjoyed being independent can make it easier for you to give your child more independent in other aspects of his/her life as well.

Although this expanding independence is a sign that your baby isn’t a baby anymore, it also means that they have absorbed the lessons you’ve taught them are applying them correctly. The whole idea behind parenting is to raise happy, healthy, and productive people who can work independently within society. Camp Starlight helps with this.

Spending the summer at camp is one way children can begin to spread their wings, find their sense of self, and discover who they are as individuals. Giving campers this independence is crucial for their self-esteem and self-worth, and is a great practice run for when they are finally out on their own. Going to camp is an emotional milestone, but a powerful one that parents and campers will remember forever.

 

The Big Picture at Camp Starlight

Monday, October 8th, 2018

It’s easy for children to think of their entire lives in the context of their “nucleus,”’ their home, their community, their school, their family, their friends. They typically have no need to seek beyond their immediate surroundings, and their perspective of the world is seen through a restrictive lens based on where they live and the things they’ve experienced. Attending a sleepaway camp gives children and teens a way to broaden their worldview, to see themselves as a small (yet important) part of the bigger picture. Camp Starlight gets campers out of their comfort zones and allow them to catch a glimpse of how much world they have to explore.

Exposure To A New Place

For campers who have lived their entire lives in the hustle and bustle of a big city are in for a shock when they step foot onto the campgrounds. For some campers, the first time they explore the wilderness or really see a constellation is at camp. Even campers from rural areas are in for a treat as they spend the summer in a place busy with people, excitement and adventure. The experience of the journey from home to camp can help campers see that there is much more to explore outside of their familiar life.

Exposure To New People

Camp Starlight brings people together from all across the globe, and is responsible for thousands of lifelong friendships. Boys and girls spend night and day with others who come from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and experiences. Working, playing and growing together at camp allows campers to break through stereotypes and appreciate diversity in a brand new way. Some campers come from places where everyone thinks, looks and acts just like them. It’s refreshing for them to see that the world is full of incredible people with so much to teach them.

Exposure To Independence

Sleepaway camps give campers the opportunity to venture out in a new place without their parents walking them through it. This experience helps campers gain a sense of independence and realize that they are strong enough, smart enough and more than capable enough to make positive decisions on their own. Giving campers this sense of freedom and independence allows them to do some self-discovery to understand further who they are and what they can contribute to the world around them. They learn things about themselves that they didn’t know, and they begin to ask the questions that will help them determine who they are becoming outside of their family and friends.

Exposure To New Activities

Camp Starlight packs every day of the summer with fun and adventure. Some campers arrive never having been on a boat before, or never having access to a dance class or have never been rock climbing, but camp changes all of that. Camp is the place where so many “firsts” happen, all of which open up new windows in the brain and increase their understanding of the countless adventures and travels awaiting them. Some campers fall in love with sports they never even knew existed, which can be the first step in a lifelong passion. Campers who have the sleepaway camp experience go home with a desire to learn more about the world around them. This exposure to new things and people shifts their perspective and helps them realize that there is so much to the world than what they know.

It’s important for children and teens to understand that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. They are part of something bigger, and the sooner we can ignite the excitement in discovering just what that “something” is, the better. The sooner campers can grasp the idea of a big wide world just waiting for their gifts and talents, the sooner we can develop leaders who are excited to serve, lead, love and explore the world beyond their comfort zone.

 

 

Sports at Camp Starlight

Monday, October 1st, 2018

\Sports play a significant role in the lives of boys and girls across the country. Many children are encouraged by parents and teachers to try a sport, make the team, and be the best. Although the intentions are good, many children and teenagers get burnt out quickly due to the pressure put on them by well-meaning adults. They quickly feel obligated to perform instead of finding the joy in the game. And while this is not the case for all children, it is becoming more and more of an issue across the country.

Camp Starlight takes a slightly different approach towards kids and sports. Many campers come to camp with a predisposition about what sports they are good at and which ones they aren’t. They assume that since they’ve played soccer since they were 4, they are exclusively soccer players. They don’t realize that although they’re familiar with soccer, it’s not the only thing they are allowed to try and enjoy. Camp Starlight encourages athletes to try new things, to branch out from their comfort zones and get active in a sport that is new to them. Gymnasts at home become volleyball players at camp. Basketball players discover their love for golf. Camp gives campers a chance to try new sports that may not be offered in their schools or communities. And of course, for those who are passionate about their sport, camp gives them the entire summer to do what they love, perfect their craft, surround themselves with other athletes who are passionate about the sport. At Camp Starlight, campers have the opportunity to be on multiple sports teams where they can either show their passion or play any sport competitively for the first time.

Sports at camp are different than sports at home because the pressure is off. Sports are played to teach teamwork and sportsmanship. Sports are played to give campers a healthy way to relieve stress, to get in a good workout, and to practice goal setting. Sports at camp are designed to bring campers together through healthy competition. Participating in sports builds confidence and strengthens relationships, and provides a safe outlet for campers to try new things without judgment or pressure.

Team sports like baseball, basketball, flag football lacrosse, soccer, and softball bring campers together towards a common goal. These sports encourage campers to work together on the field or court, which then translates to working together in other areas of camp life too. Playing a team sport allows campers to connect with other campers whom they may not have met otherwise.

Individual sports like aerobics and figure skating still puts campers in group settings but allows them to focus on their personal skill set, goals, and abilities. No matter what type of sports campers play, they’re always surrounded by people who encourage them to be their best. There are no stressed-out parents to worry about, no crazy coaches screaming from the sidelines. Just friends, playing together for the fun of it.

Campers can engage in sports as much or as little as they want to at camp. Seasoned athletes can work on new skills and improving their current skills, while new athletes can feel safe trying something new surrounded by the encouragement and support of their counselors and fellow campers. Camp Starlight has built a reputation for offering an incredible sleepaway camp experience that combines art, music, sports, good food, great friends and the beautiful outdoors in a way that every camper will easily fall in love with.

 

 

 

 

Being a Counselor Assistant at Camp Starlight

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Sixteen is not an age you would associate with a summer camp. When you think of a sixteen year old, words like “rock n roll,” “rebellion,” and “sleep in extremely late” flash like snapshots of your own teen years into your head. Teenagers typically want to get away from it all and live in the moment, but at Camp Starlight, sixteen year olds break these stereotypes as Counselor Assistants. Pushing the limits of responsibilities and taking the initiative to embrace upcoming adulthood, Counselor Assistants spend another summer at Camp Starlight in the in between stage of camper and counselor. Not yet counselor, not entirely camper, these kids enter a role entirely their own on campus and even though it is a unique role, these kids enter this sphere for a reason.

“What inspired me to return for this summer was that for the past 8 summers all my counselors were so kind, supportive and motivating in everything I did and helped me with everything I needed. I want to be that person these campers look up to and I want to be the same role model for my kids one day,” said Marni, a Counselor Assistant.

Even though starting the transition from camper to counselor is challenging, these kids believe and do make a difference in the life of the campers. Each and every one of these counselor assistants have grown up with the values of Camp Starlight rooted into them, accepting that friendship, tradition and family is a part of their identity. The determination to sacrifice a summer of possible shenanigans back home as teenagers highlights how seriously these soon to be counselors want to continue to plant the traditions, fun and love of Camp Starlight into future campers, hoping new roots will grow alike to their own.

“I’m returning this summer as a Counselor Assistant because I can’t imagine a summer without all these people in my life,” said Lauren, a Counselor Assistant.

 

 

 

Why Campers Return as Camp Starlight Counselors

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

For many campers, Camp Starlight becomes a second home, a special place that welcomes you back every summer like family and supports you to be the best person you can be. Camp Starlight becomes a staple in many campers lives’ and for a few of them it becomes a home they never leave when they decide to return as counselors. When they left Camp Starlight they realized they didn’t want their last summer as a camper to be the last time they get to watch a sunset over the lake or sing a song around the campfire, they wanted to continue to live through those traditions. After spending eight summers as a camper that gets to experience all the playful fun of camp, campers will transition to the role of counselors to experience summer camp in a whole different way. Former Camper Counselors return to Camp Starlight so they can help campers live the same amazing summers that they once did. These counselors recognize that when they were campers, their own counselors were the ones to push them out of their comfort zone and pick them up every time they were down, helping them become the individuals they are today. This is why so many campers return to become counselors, they want to change lives the way their own lives were changed. They want to help a camper find their passion and make them realize that Camp Starlight is their home when they feel homesick. They want to help campers understand how special of a place Camp Starlight is and that the happiness they find here will guide them for the rest of their lives, but most of all, campers return as counselors because they want to spread the love they have received from every summer spent at Camp Starlight.