Posts Tagged ‘Benefits of Summer Camp’

Simple Kindness as a Standard

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

When I walk around campus I’m surrounded by inspiration and I’m always surprised when more often than not inspiration walks straight up to me. Taking a second to myself to appreciate the sweeping valley of trees, shades of light to dark green portray a gradient of texturized forests. It’s like looking at a landscape painting at the Metropolitan or Art Institute of Chicago, but instead of moving on to the next landscape after a few moments of silent viewing, you are alive for as long as you want inside this painting. In this case I was noticing how the trees follow a wave like pattern in the valley that mirrors the placement of slow rolling puffy clouds in the sky above when an Upper Plebe simply called out to me. “Want to join us?”

He was smiling up at me and extended out his golf club to me to take and play along with his game of golf. Standing in the grass a few feet away from he, he waiting patiently for my reply and this pause made me realize he was genuine in asking his question. Before I replied I looked back again to the driving range where many Upper Plebes were launching golf balls into the sky. I look back to the Upper Plebe and answer, “Yes, I will join you.” “Great! My name is Mason.”

Mason’s question may have been simple but his implications are much deeper. When he asked me–just another staff member that happened to walk by the golfing activity–that question, he asked more of me than just joining a game of golf. He asked me to join his friends, his community and to become a part of his summer, a time in his life he always looks forward to and regrets leaving in August. This is an honor to be invited into a child’s world and be presented with the opportunity to help him become a better individual, or sometimes to just play a game of golf.

Mason’s small act of kindness plays a huge part in highlighting what kind of special place Camp Starlight represents. This place is more than just a summer camp, it is a world where kindness, friendship, trust and the initiative to share happiness with others, regardless if you know them or not, are the pillars that hold this place up and together.

New Counselors at Camp Starlight

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Just like many new campers, I step one foot in front, then the other follows along, as I explore the Camp Starlight campus for the very first time as a new counselor. I notice how big and tall the trees are and the dew on the grass soaking through my shoes. Just after a few steps, all my senses come alive–almost awakened. The sunlight shines and lights up all the particles of dust in the air that my presence has kicked up, transforming even the smallest elements of nature into dancing fairies. A celebration of natural life bloomed all around me. The vast open sky above affirmed that this special place holds no bounds for what can happen next, magical or real. Once you arrive at Camp Starlight you realize the idyllic summer that is Camp Starlight, this is where the true blossoming celebration takes place. To pass along through the road is just the beginning to experience the celebration.

Camp Starlight Opening Show

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

On the first day of camp, the overflow of emotions from the bus arrivals don’t settle once the hugs are embraced and each high five has been returned with enthusiasm, this is when the celebration only begins. Fast forward to the unpacking the Camp Starlight gear, sports equipment and precious stuffed animals, the bunks are filled with decorations of old memories, but all returning campers know to leave a large amount of space for the new memories they will make this summer. Since the sun is setting just in time for the stars to peek through the night sky, the opening show is ready to be begin.

For the first time this summer the entire camp gathers in the Rec Hall for the Opening Show and the camp is ready to make their official grand welcome. The lower juniors are excitedly curious to see the show for the first time in the front rows while the seniors happily embrace the nostalgia for seeing the show for the last time in the back. Regardless of age, every camper will stretch their neck, their eyes and even their toes to watch every song and dance–the audience is just as engaged as the performers on stage. It’s as if you feel tiny fairies pull the corner of your cheeks upward in a smile as soon as you enter that rec hall and the chords of the first song is played. A happiness so natural occurs among all the campers and staff it makes you feel so warm on the inside you start to wonder if you’ll melt into a puddle of bliss right there. The cheers are contagious, the laughter spreads and by the end of the show every individual–old and new–is swaying arm and arm with each other, singing the lyrics to songs as if they have been singing at camp their whole lives. The voices join into one glorious union and when you catch a glimpse into a camper’s eyes, you see they have finally come all the way back home at Camp Starlight. The opening show is not just a songs and dances, it’s a homecoming.

Off the Buses & Into Our Arms

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Suspense is thickening in the air as all staff gather on the field to welcome the Starlight campers for the summer of 2017. Counselors have been waiting over a week, some two, passing the time with an extensive orientation program that amps up their excitement even more. Pre-Camp workers have been eagerly waiting a month and have passed the time through camp preparation, ensuring Starlight is the most beautiful it can be for their campers. Not to mention that many staff members have been patiently waiting years for the opportunity to inspire and encourage a community of campers, a thrill that all new counselors experience for the first time and an adrenaline rush that all returning counselors are addicted to. All these seconds, hours, days and years have accumulated into this single moment and the electric anticipation is more than tangible, you can reach your hand out into the air and feel how highly charged the atmosphere of camp is on the very tips of your fingers. The buses roll through the gates, park in the untouched grass and the horns on the buses ring out to affirm that the campers are finally here.

The campers burst out of the bus doors and the counselors explode in cheers and celebrating the arrival at their summer home. They will spend the rest of summer sharing stories, eating s’mores, singing classic traditional camp songs and laughing beside at the end of each evening activity. It is a moment that sparkles in your memory when you will think back to this day 1 year or 10 from now. The way the campers sprint to say hello to their old counselors or friends from camp is of the purest joy–it’s all in their wide genuine smiles and an honor to see the world in their eyes.

Everything has led up to this moment, this experience, this family.

Farm To Camp: A Summer Camp Experience With A Grown Up Twist

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Something amazing is happening on August 26th-27tht, an event that combines the adventure and experience of summer camp with the delicacy of gourmet food from around the region. Farm to Camp is an adults-only summer camp experience packed into one amazing weekend. From a waterfront cocktail hour and a five-star meal under the stars to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor summer camp themed activities, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Eat

Farm to Camp starts off with a sunset cocktail party, where campers can mingle with new friends and taste local wines before dinner. After cocktails, an eight-course meal is served at a long table under the stars, surrounded by soft lighting and the gorgeous surroundings of Camp Starlight. Prepared by culinary geniuses, an extensive dinner menu featuring local and organic options will leave taste buds in a state of bliss. Fresh produce from farmers in the Pennsylvania and NY area, and guests all come together for a meal to remember. Even the tableware and serving dishes are environmentally friendly, adding another organic element to this incredible meal. Each plate is handcrafted not only for exceptional taste but for beauty as well. This is sure to be a meal to remember. In the morning, enjoy another exceptional, farm-fresh meal for brunch before you head home.

Play

Before the sunset cocktail hour, guests can spend the day feeling like a kid again by participating in many traditional summer camp activities. From tennis and softball to fitness classes and volleyball, guests can experience some of their favorite childhood activities, or branch out and try something new. When was the last time you let your guard down and had some good, clean fun? If it’s been too long, Farm to Camp will be a breath of fresh air. After dinner, guests can explore the grounds, socialize around the campfire, make S’mores, or dance the night away to the beats of a late night DJ.

Sleep

There’s only one thing to do after a day of fun and good food: Sleep. Guests can shower, unwind and relax in one of the camp cabins, complete with electricity and hot water. Campers can meet new friends by being assigned to a cabin with other guests, or choose in advance to stay with people they know. Private rooms are also available at an extra charge.

Farm To Camp allows guests to relive the summer camp of their childhood with a grown up twist. It allows campers to enjoy healthy, gorgeous, organic meals with good friends and good wine in a weekend that will make them feel like a kid again.

 

1, 3, 5, 6 We Want Olympics!

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

As the summer comes to a close, a feeling of anticipation fills the air. A quiet sound starts to arise that begins to get louder and louder…. “1, 3, 5, 6 we want olympics… 1, 3, 5, 6 WE WANT OLYMPICS!” The sound of this all too familiar cheer echoes across the camp as campers ranging from juniors to seniors clap and shout at the top of their lungs. Even the counselors join along in excitement as they know that the fun and spirit has only just begun.

Breakout

Before we know it, the chants turn into a reality and OLYMPICS IS HERE. We spend all summer guessing what the newest breakout could be, but when it finally comes we couldn’t even IMAGINE how awesome it is! Ice skating at the flagpole? Running around camp to decode the drones’ secret message? What will it be next!? Whether it be at night, during the day, or early in the morning, the surprise of Olympic breakout is destined to be a highlight of everyone’s summer!

When the moment arrives, the entire camp uproars in excitement as the team lists fly into the air and campers search frantically to see whether they are on Blue or White. The Leadership teams are announced and David declares that Olympics has officially begun! The first team meeting kicks off Olympics and it’s time for everyone to get P-S-Y-C-H-E-D!

The Spirit

B-L-U-E we got the spirit! W-H-I-T-E that’s how we spell victory! Dressing up head to toe in your team color and learning the multiple cheers is one of the most fun parts of Olympics. It’s a chance to get decked out and show just how spirited you are! Both during games and in between, campers and counselors alike can be seen walking around camp cheering for their team with the utmost enthusiasm. It’s a time for everyone to bring out their creative, silly, and SPIRITED personalities.

The Events

Aside from the spirit that Olympics brings out, getting to compete in different sports is the best part for many. Olympics is a time for campers to show all that they’ve learned over the summer and bring out their athletic side. From a soccer game on the alumni that goes into a shootout to an intense game of basketball that goes into double overtime, you truly never know what to expect when the Blue and the White face off.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a major athlete, Olympics has something for every camper to enjoy! A part of Olympics that campers and counselors alike look forward to is the apache relay. Whether it be catching a pancake and eating it, writing with your foot in chalk, or breaking a shirt that’s trapped in ice, the Apache Relay is always an event that is sure to be full of twists and turns that will keep the entire camp in high suspense. For all of our campers and counselors that know their random facts and figures, the Trivia Bowl is a perfect time to shine as the Blue and White battle it out in a series of intense, (and silent!) rounds. And how could we forget one of the biggest parts of Olympics- Sing! As the Blue and White practice with energy and dedication, they are able to show off their talent and hard work when they compete head to head at the Rec Hall.

Closing Ceremonies

In the blink of an eye, the past five days of spirit, intensity, and fun all comes to an end as the teams rush the lake and put a close to our Olympic competition. Later, as both teams come back together and gather around the flagpole to watch the Olympic torch go out, Olympics is officially declared to be over.  Everyone around camp is left in anticipation of what next summer’s Olympics will bring and wishing we could fast forward time.

 

Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum

Monday, March 6th, 2017

As an adult, there is nothing more annoying that coming across someone who feels that their opinion is the only opinion and that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. It’s hard to form and keep friendships with people who don’t appreciate or respect the difference of other people. This is why at Camp Starlight, we implement the “Don’t’ Yuck Someone Else’s Yum” guidelines, which helps campers appreciate and respect the likes and dislikes of other campers.

 

Teaching campers to be respectful of the opinions of others, even when they don’t agree, is just another way going to camp builds character and teaches valuable social skills. Campers are bound to come in contact with people who have different opinions and preferences from them around camp, and counselors encourage campers to embrace the difference and learn to disagree is a respectful way.  This helps prepare campers for the real world and sets them up to be tolerant and accepting members of society.

 

Campers learn that everyone has different likes and dislikes, but that is not helpful or necessary to make others feel bad for their opinions or preferences. Campers who are made to feel bad or embarrassed about their personal preferences are less likely to speak up or say what is on their mind, which is not something that we want to happen at camp, ever. We want to create a safe place where every camper can express himself or herself and have their voices heard without the fear of rejection or judgment. The “Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum,” rule at camp helps to create this safe environment, and teaches campers the value of diversity in the people around them.

 

Teaching campers not to be negative or judgmental about the preferences of others is also helping them learn proper etiquette and manners. Whether it’s at mealtime or any other time around camp when opinions and preferences are expressed, campers are practicing how to be polite and well-rounded individuals, which will undoubtedly transfer over to their world at home.

 

If your child gets home and you turns their nose up to the delicious broccoli and Brussels sprout dinner you’ve prepared, you can kindly remind me of what they learned at camp, and say “Hey, Don’t Yuck My Yum!” We can’t guarantee they’ll eat the veggies, but it will help them be respectful of the different opinions and tastes of the people around them.

The 8 Reasons You’re Already Excited About Summer 2017

Monday, January 30th, 2017

If you’re already planning and excited about next summer, you’re not alone. You’re one of the many campers who make going away to camp a part of their summer experience year after year. Here are 8 reasons why you’re already looking forward to summer 2017:

 

  1. You get to see old friends- When asked, most campers say seeing old friends is the #1 reason they are excited to get back to camp. Social media, texting, emails and phone calls throughout the year are great, but there is nothing like after a busy school year reconnecting with old friends!
  2. Campfires- there is something about the singing crickets, the crackling of the fire, good friends all around, S’mores on the fire, and those whacky, silly campfire songs that make summer camp so much fun.
  3. Outdoor Adventures- more than likely, you don’t live in a place where you can easily access an impressive ropes course or mountain biking trails, or the chance to go camping in the mountains. At camp, you have access to all of these adventures just steps from your cabin.
  4. Freedom- You’ve worked so hard all year to get good grades, contribute around the house, participate in sports and other afterschool activities, that summer camp is a nice break from all of those responsibilities. At camp, you’re free to relax!
  5. Special Events- from pool parties and talent shows, to laser tag and MTV night, campers are always excited about special events! You never really know what to expect with these special events, all you know is that it’s going to be awesome and it’ll be a night you won’t soon forget!
  6. Reconnecting with Nature- when you leave camp, it can feel kind of weird to spend the next few months sitting in a classroom, or coming home to sit and play video games. Camp gives you a new appreciation for the outdoors, and being outside all of the time becomes a part of who you are. Many campers are excited to breathe the fresh mountain air, cannonball into the refreshing lake, and experience quiet time with nature throughout camp.
  7. The Food- Even at the best schools, cafeteria food is still cafeteria food, and can get boring after a while. Thankfully, coming to camp means you have a wide variety of food options to choose from, and all of it is delicious! Remember the breakfast sandwiches? Remember the ice cream sundaes? Remember the cookouts? Healthy and delicious options are always available for bust, hungry campers!
  8. The Traditions- if next summer will be your first summer as a repeat camper, you have something really exciting waiting for you! Your time as the new camper is over, and now you’re a P-R-O! You already have a hang of the traditions, the rituals, the songs and customs that happen at camp. You now have the opportunity to teach the new campers! If this is your third or fourth summer returning to camp, you know that even though there are some things that stay the same, every camp experience is new and different and exciting!

 

It’s not too early to start counting down the days until summer 2017. It’ll be here before you know it, and you’ll be packing your bags and heading back to one of your favorite places on the planet. There is so much to look forward to, and these are just SOME of the many reasons kids are already so excited to get back to camp! Why are you pumped about getting back to camp?

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Break Your Usual Routine

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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It is pretty hard to step out of your comfort zone when you are literally in your comfort zone. Being in the comfort of your own home makes breaking your normal routine a little difficult.  When you are at home, you find that you are always waking up in your same room, eating breakfast at the same place, going to the same places and hanging out with the same people who are doing the same things.  Many people like routine; they enjoy the security of knowing what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen and not having any surprises. Unfortunately, things can get very boring very quickly this way.

 

So when you make the decision to physically get out of your comfort zone, and head to Camp Starlight for the summer, you have no choice but to do different things, with different people, in a totally different place. Breaking your usual routine is a little bit easier when you’re somewhere else.

 

Breaking up your routine is good for you for many reasons.  First, it helps you to see things differently. It also help you to become more creative, more perceptive, and be OK with not being in control all the time.  When you get out of your comfort zone, you are bound to make mistakes. The good thing about mistakes is that they are a learning opportunity. The more mistakes you make the more you learn.  Doing things that make you nervous, afraid, or uncomfortable can be a great teaching tool.  If you are normally an indoor sort of person, bike riding, rock climbing, or learning to sail may make you kind of nervous. However, trying these things exposes you to experiences that are new and exciting, and can teach you a lot about yourself.

 

When you expose yourself to things that are unfamiliar, it makes your brain work. When your brain is working, you’re constantly learning and growing. It is great brain exercise to step out of your comfort zone and do things that are a little different.

 

Another great benefit of breaking up your every day routine is that it also allows you to break bad habits. If you find that you are constantly biting your nails while you watch TV, you may be able to break that habit at camp since you will be too busy having fun to care about TV.  If you have a bad habit of interrupting people, you will quickly learn to communicate more effectively by being surrounded by new people at camp. Breaking up your routine also causes you to break bad habits.

 

The great thing about stepping out of your comfort zone at camp is that you hardly have to do any work at all. Just by merely being at camp you are already taking the first step in changing your routine.  Every morning when you wake up at camp, there is a new day ahead of you with new experiences to try, new people to meet, and new things to learn.  Unless you sail, dance, create, climb, swim, bike ride, hike, and explore on a daily basis at home, being at camp is definitely going to be a change in your normal every day routine.  It is going to require you to do things that make you a little nervous, but in the end will give you a boost of confidence.

 

Habit and routine can be comforting, and can be a great way to stay organized and on track. However, switching it up a little bit is good for your brain, good for your soul, and good for yourself confidence.

 

 

Skills All Children Need for Future Success and How They Learn Them at Camp Starlight

Monday, November 21st, 2016

 

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Children are like sponges. They pick up on everything, are very perceptive and hungry for knowledge. They ask “why?” all the time because they are fascinated by how the world works and want to be “in the know” about everything around them. When they reach school age, the spend most of their days in a classroom, learning valuable skills like addition and subtraction and grammar and geography. They learn to write their name and multiply and memorize the periodic table of elements. And while all of these things are important, there are other skills that children need to learn to set them up for future success. Skills that help campers navigate the real world, help them build relationships, solve problems and communicate with others are imperative to their future success. Fortunately, most of these skills are engrained into the fabric of camp life, and campers come home with a new set of skills under their belt.

 

  1. Problem Solving– In the “real world,” there won’t always be an older sibling, parent, or camp counselor to help children with their problems. They will need to learn how to assess the situation and think of a solution. They will need to know how to use their resources to help them, and how to think outside of the box to find an answer. At Camp Starlight, children are exposed to many challenges that help them practice their problem solving skills. They are taught to observe and analyze their situation to find a solution, and encouraged not to give up when things get tough. Camp counselors are great about taking a step back and letting campers figure things out, while still being close enough to provide support and feedback when they need it.
  2. Playing well with others– This skill is a big one at camp, because when you spend 24/7 with a bunch of other people, children must learn how to work and play together. Success in the world, and in the workplace, is commonly attributed to the ability to work as a team towards a common goal. Working with coworkers to meet a deadline, even if the coworkers aren’t your favorite people in the world, is an important skill to have. If you cannot compromise, listen and communicate, it will be difficult to be successful in the future. Campers learn from the very beginning of camp how to be inclusive, good sports, and team players.
  3. Communicating clearly-When children learn to express themselves in a way that is diplomatic, honest, and sincere, they set themselves up for success. They could have the best ideas in the world, but if they are loud, always interrupt people, or are rude and condescending, their message will not be delivered properly. The same goes for campers who are naturally quiet, reserved and shy. If they never learn to speak up, the world misses out on all of their great ideas and opinions. Camp is a safe place for children to voice their concerns, ideas and beliefs, and are encouraged to speak up for what they need and want. They are also taught to listen to others respectfully, and agree to disagree when necessary. Communication is the key to success, and campers learn quickly the value of hearing others and being heard.
  4. Being openminded– Campers learn to appreciate the differences in their fellow campers, and learn to embrace everybody for who they are. Open-mindedness sets children up for success because it allows them to see things from multiple angles, which is an excellent problem solving technique. It also makes them more worldly and knowledgeable. Open minded people are successful because they see the big picture, they are less resistant to change, and are flexible in their ideas.
  5. Goal Setting– Successful people set realistic, attainable goals and work towards them. They make a plan, and work towards their goal until their plan doesn’t work anymore, which is when they make a new plan. They aren’t afraid to ask for help meeting their goals, and know that making mistakes is part of the process. At camp, campers are encouraged to set goals and work towards them all summer. Some set a goal to try something they’ve never done before, others want to learn to swim, or go a whole summer without taking a single selfie. Camp counselors encourage campers to focus on their goals and help them take the necessary steps to reach them. Children need to know how to set realistic and attainable goals now, so that when they enter the workforce, they can get things done without feeling overwhelmed or lost
  6. Time Management– Camp does a great job of keeping campers busy throughout the day. There are certain times for eating, resting, structured activities, evening activities, and free time. Although campers don’t have to worry too much about creating a schedule at camp, they are responsible for being on time to events and activities, and knowing where they need to be and when. Being late, or managing time ineffectively, is not something successful people do. Children who want to be successful need to understand the importance of time, and how to get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

 

These six skills are vital for children to grow up to be successful adults. They need to know how to interact with others as well as be responsible for their own actions, thoughts and feelings. Children learn a lot of these things by watching those around them, which is why camp counselors take all of these skills so seriously and model them as best as they can. Children leave Camp Starlight with the tools they need to become productive and successful citizens in the real world.