Posts Tagged ‘American Summer Camp’

High School Musical Olympic Break Leaves Campers and Staff Glowing

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

There is such a thing as being in a show, and then there is, quite literally, being IN a show. For the 2014 Camp Starlight Olympic break, campers and staff found out what it is like to be transported into the middle of a musical. “Wildcat” spirit began building during the staff production of High School Musical in the Starlight Playhouse, but when everyone exited the Playhouse to be greeted by buses adorned with banners and waiting to transport them to the championship basketball game that concludes High School Musical, the excitement reached fever pitch.

The anticipation grew as the buses passed well-wishers who lined the roads holding signs wishing the team luck, and campers cheered and waved out the windows as they passed. This was DEFINITELY going to be their day to win!

The team had already started warming up, and cheerleaders were front and center, ready to rally the crowd when the buses pulled up. The spirit emanating from the school gymnasium could have filled an entire stadium as the crowd stood in the stands, cheering and singing “We’re All in This Together.” This was going to be the championship game to end all games. Finally, just as the cheering reached a high pitched hum, whistles blew and referees David and Allison Miller appeared on the court to officiate the game. As the players gathered center court in preparation of starting the big game, the lights went out, and the players removed their warm-up jackets to reveal OLYMPICS spelled out on their jerseys.

As magical as the journey into the world of High School Musical had been for the entire camp, the Wildcats were about to get a taste of what it’s like to be part of the Camp Starlight world.  The cheerleaders flipped their signs to reveal the 2014 team names: Epic Whites and Blue Invaders, and even a game winning 3 point shot in the final seconds of the NBA finals couldn’t have generated as much celebration and energy that erupted at that moment.

It took several minutes for the cheering to die down enough for the 2014 Generals and Sing Leaders to be announced. Once theywere, the sounds were deafening once again. Blue Generals Tana Mcclven and Matt Perlman and White Generals Hayley Miller and Alex Bright joined Sing Leaders Jason Silberman and Hannah Pereira of the Blue and Rachel Simon and Rico Reillo of white in assuming leadership of their teams. “W” may stand for “Wildcats” in the world of High School Musical. But in the world of Camp Starlight Olympic breaks, “W” stands for “WIN!”

An Ode to Bunk Junk: Less is More.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Have you ever walked into your child’s room or playroom and thought, “What happened, did a tornado come through here?” So cluttered, so messy that you can’t even think straight?  We try our hardest at Camp Starlight to not let the “Bunk Junk tornado” run through our bunks.

A small amount of Bunk Junk is great! Games to play during rest hour in the bunk, stationary to write home with, books to read, Rainbow looms or friendship bracelet kits.  Each camper has a designated spot for all of these items, and it’s under their bed. At Starlight, all bunk junk must be able to fit into a specific sized “Underbed Box” to keep bunks clean and organized. When campers bring too much Bunk Junk, it becomes an unorganized mess. Inevitably games, toys, and letters can get lost, broken, or accidentally thrown away during a massive clean out of the dark abyss of their underbed.

When you send your campers trunks up, make sure all of their bunk junk can fit, neatly, into the “Underbed Box.” This includes sticker books, rainbow loom/string boxes, stationary sets, and dress up clothes! And don’t forget to think twice about if your child will actually use the items you are sending. In the realm of packing Bunk Junk, use the golden rule: Less is Definitely More.

Camp Starlight Gymnastics

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

All one has to do to see why campers are quite literally flipping for Camp Starlight gymnastics is walk into the Gymnastics Center at the Carriage House.  What you’ll see is a positive, constructive environment that is fun while still encouraging hard work and perseverance, which all paid off when the Camp Starlight Gymnastics program hit its stride last week with both Upper and Lower Camp team victories as well as 1st place Individual All Around at its meet.  The victories, of course, were right on track for the goals new Head of Gymnastics Kelly Gurney set for the program coming into the summer.  “I really wanted to get our gymnasts to the next level.” Kelly says.

But Kelly isn’t merely preoccupied with improving the skills of campers who are enthusiastic aboutgymnastics.  She set a goal for every camper to master at least one skill by the end of the summer.  She believes the campers not only have the talent and drive, but have been set up for success with a tremendous facility. “Our [Camp Starlight’s] gym is the best I have seen for a non-specialized camp.  It’s even top of the line for a gymnastics camp,” Kelly says.  And Kelly knows gymnastics.

The Auburn University graduate was a three time national bar champion, three time national beam champion, and NCAA All Around champion.  Prior to joining Camp Starlight, coached three gymnasts to the TOPS National Team as well as many other students to multiple regional and national championships.  During the winter, she coaches gymnastics in Southern California.  When she’s not in the gym, she can be found surfing or conducting yoga and natural healing sessions.

The campers and facilities aren’t the only aspects of Camp Starlight that Kelly is pleased about, though.  She also loves her staff and believes they are a big part of the success of the Camp Starlight Gymnastics program “Rachel is highly technical and kind.  Maxine is the dreamer with a big heart.  The kids love both.”  Congratulations to Kelly, her staff, and all of the Starlight campers who’ve made 2013 another successful one for Camp Starlight gymnastics.

While We Wait for the Campers to Arrive…

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Summer is finally here and the campers are on their way…literally.  In the meantime, last night was Staff MTV Night, and it very entertaining to say the least.  Animal themes were the trend this year.  We were treated to acts featuring elephants, squirrels, and dogs (lots of dogs).  Boy bands also held their own.  The Backstreet Boys, in particular, are practically mandatory (in a good way) at every Camp Starlight MTV Night event.  Dances contained a fair amount of Harlem Shake and even a touch of Gangnam Style.  The Camp Starlight Support Staff got in on the action this year with an extremely entertaining number that wowed everyone.  We’re not going to tell you which division won because, as everyone knows, that’s a surprise we save for the MTV Night Finals here at Camp Starlight when the entire camp gets to see the act for themselves.  Let’s just say that it was truly a group effort; very creative, original, and had the entire audience rolling with laughter during the performance and on its feet at the end.  The lip syncing wasn’t too shabby either.  In short, it touched on everything the judges will be looking for when the camper MTV Night divisional competitions begin in just a couple of weeks!  We’ll see you soon!

Summer Camp: Otherwise Known as Mission Combat Boredom

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Memorial Day is just around the corner and, soon after that, schools will be letting out for the summer.  If you and your significant other are already taking bets on how many days into summer vacation your child will get before proclaiming ‘I’m bored!’ don’t fret.   It may not be too late to combat summer vacation boredom with camp.

First, run–don’t walk–to your computer and submit that summer camp application that you’ve been meaning to submit since October. Although many camps are at capacity for this summer, some camps still have limited space or can place your child on a waiting list in the event of a last minute cancellation.  But time is definitely of the essence now so don’t dilly dally anymore!  If you’re still on the fence and wondering what summer camp do to fight off summer boredom that you, the local pool, or the latest videogame system can’t do, consider this:

For starters, does your local pool have a water trampoline or a rockit?  How about a climbing wall or a rope swing? Does it offer tubing or paddleboarding?  And can your child choose between a sailboat, canoe, or kayak?  Does the park offer waterskiing?  Didn’t think so.

But it’s not just the waterfront that makes summer camp “camp.”  That’s a couple of hours of each day, of course, but there are ball fields and courts, too—baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, football, hockey…All in one campus!  On any given day at summer camp, campers visit several of them.  They don’t just play intramural games either.  They receive instruction from knowledgeable professionals who work with children year round either as coaches or teachers or college students with significant playing experience a sport who hope to work with children when they graduate.  Campers are challenged to improve their foul shot, learn a new swing, and maintain more control of balls while dribbling.  Traditional summer camps are a virtual sports paradise.  You’ll probably read about that when you receive your first letter from camp in which your child tells you that he or she is so NOT bored!

Away from the fields, there are some pretty sweet crafts, ceramics, and woodworking projects for campers who have a passion for all things that have a high potential to be messy.  They’ll spend an hour or two everyday making a collection of new masterpieces to bring home to you and, when they do, you WILL find a special place to show it off, even if you’re not immediately sure what it is.   It’s a pretty good bet that your child will spend at least two minutes of a phone call home telling you how much FUN it is to nail pieces of wood together or spin clay on a pottery wheel.

Without electronics, iPods, and videogames to retreat to after dinner, evenings can get kind of crazy.  There are sing alongs, dance competitions, spirit competitions, talent competitions, and stage shows.  If you’re having a hard time imagining your child taking the stage and liking it, don’t worry.  We take photos.  You can spend the entire summer hitting the refresh button on your computer screen while looking at photos of your child not being bored.

There is also square dancing, sports leagues, scavenger hunts, carnivals, cookouts, dances, outside entertainment, and campfires.  We haven’t even mentioned out of camp trips to take in sporting events, catch a movie, or visit a local amusement park.

If you’re out of breath just reading this, so are we.  And we haven’t even mentioned everything.  In fact, there is so much to do at camp that on some days the hardest decision for many campers is what not to do.  So make this summer the first of your child’s ‘funnest summers ever!’ by sending him or her to camp, where there is no such thing as “bored.”

Camp Starlight Goes Red, White, and Blue

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

It’s a colorful day here at Camp Starlight, and we’re not just talking about the sun shining on our beautiful surroundings.  Campers and staff alike are showing their patriotism with some pretty wild and crazy red, white, and blue outfits.  Whacky hats, flag shorts and shirts, headbands adorned with American flags or red, white, and blue streamers, and even leis are standard wardrobe all over campus today.  Of course, 4th of July here at Camp Starlight is synonymous with SWF and fireworks.  The buzz all day has been about who the teams will be, what messy substance will be in the ring, and, most importantly, who will take home the championship belt.  In anticipation, campers have been busy making signs to help them cheer on their favorite counselors and other staff members.  They’re also anticipating the annual 4th of July fireworks.  Every day is a great day at Camp Starlight, but the July 4th holiday is always extra special!

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned at Summer Camp

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Back in 1988, the book Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten was written by Robert Fulghum. However true the points the author makes may be, it is arguable that those who go to summer camp would feel otherwise. Although summer camp is packed full of fun times, arts and crafts projects, and songs around a campfire, it is also an experience rich in life lessons that carry on far into adulthood. Children who are still of camping age probably think that a crazy concept.  To them summer is simply two months filled with sports, activities, and bonding time with their friends. But those who are past the age of those simple days of fun in the sun feel certain they have taken far more from their summers spent at camp.

The years a child spends away at summer camp are the years when development is at an all time high. It is the age when a children build the foundation of their personalities, life attitudes, and personal relationships with others. The most basic lesson hidden in the experience of going to summer camp is the independence found in leaving the familiarity of family and friends at home. Going off to a new place without mom or dad around to help manage time and personal space is a giant step in the right direction for learning personal responsibility. In joining a group of kids their own age as a unit, the children learn to accept compromise, share, and respect others in a fun environment. As they step into the bunk, they also learn the roles of new authority figures in their counselors, instructors, and camp administration.

The relationships founded between counselor and camper are bonds that are remembered for many years past the days spent in the bunks together. These friendships teach respect and acceptance of the new adult assuming the position of summer caretaker for the child. It is a gentle transition, as the role of a counselor is generally focused on the child having a great time but also ensuring the child is safe, fair, and well-taken care of. Children learn that authority figures are not to be seen solely as someone who tells them what to do, but as someone who genuinely cares about their welfare, progress, and interactions with those around them. Camps enact policies such as group clean-ups and team building exercises utilize the necessary time spent doing chores and outdoor activities to become educational experiences for each child. The concepts of personal responsibility and teamwork become second nature at camp, and they are indispensable as the child moves on to college and adulthood.

Another indispensable quality learned through staff member relationships with campers is the characteristics of “coach-ability”; the acceptance of instruction and constructive criticism. Every summer, children are excited to spend time on the fields and courts during athletic activity periods. While they are learning the proper way to shoot a lay-up, they are also engaging in a fun, educational lesson in observing and learning from others. While they obviously enjoy one area more than others, they are expected to both try and improve in the all activities. They spend the day with others in their bunks or divisions who have different interests and strengths and, through those performances, are able to see that everyone has their own niche and range of capabilities. This builds the early cornerstone of mutual respect amongst others and the idea that they can learn something from another person, even if that subject matter does not necessarily spark their full interest. The camp implementing full participation expectations from every child also teaches them the idea that they should always play a part in the activity and do their best at the task at hand.

The final lesson most prevalent in a child’s growth in camping is the sense of pride that is found in being part of a group and engaging in its traditions. For years to come, former campers will reflect on campfires, evening activities, sing-alongs, and the everyday routines of their camp days as fond memories spent at a place where they found their summer home. There is a spirit of pride and camaraderie when they see a person from their camp get into a highly renowned university, publish their first book, or take the field as a collegiate or professional athlete. A shared sense of accomplishment for that person shows the strength of the bonds found in camp friendships and the acknowledgement of others’ personal victories. Those in their post-camping days find that through painting their faces, raising their voices in a round, and taking roles on as senior campers stick with them in later years as a sense of unity amongst a group of people. By taking part in something that stood before them and has continued on without them, they carry with them the role they played in a part of the history of that place. The good feelings and happiness found both in the moment and in years to come instills in a camper the value of relationships with others and taking pride in an establishment. This further develops loyalty and commitment in other organizations ranging from teams, sororities or fraternities, community service projects, and even in the professional corporations they find themselves in later in life.

In conclusion, it may seem that the issues at hand make a simple summer spent with friends too serious. However, those who look back on their experiences in camping with fond memories know the things they learned at camp are still with them. The relationships built often outlast those of neighborhood and schoolyard friends, and in them they find some of their greatest confidantes and oldest friends. The tools gained through taking part in summers at camp haven proven useful in the obstacles faced years later. Therefore, it is quite obvious to those who at some point called themselves a camper that they truly learned everything they needed to know at camp!

New Camper Day 2011

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Excitement was in the air on Sunday, June 12th as a host of enthusiastic new campers and their parents got to sample the fun that awaits them at Camp Starlight this summer.  Following some introductory games, everyone assembled at the flagpole for an official greeting from David and Allison.  Before some ice breakers that had campers, parents, and staff laughing, several members of the Key Staff were also introduced.  Then it was off for a small group tour, during which lifelong memories and friendships were already being formed.  From the Main Field to the Carriage house and everything in between, campers got a glimpse of all the places where they will have great times as Starlighters over the next several summers.  The day culminated with an option period during which campers actually got to choose and participate in the very first activity of their Starlight careers.  Finally, everyone came together for an indoor cookout before reluctantly getting in their cars and going home to anxiously count down the days until they return for the official start of Summer 2011.  We’re delighted to have such awesome group of campers spending their first summer with us during our 65th!  We can’t wait to see everyone again in a couple of weeks!