Posts Tagged ‘Camp Counselors’

What I Learned From a Summer at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

My mom has this ritual of asking me, every day, about what I learned that day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales or Egyptian pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from a summer at Camp Starlight, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. She was surprised, however, at my response.


I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time, I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and even learned how to paint. I was exposed to so many new opportunities and experiences, that I felt like I was learning something new every day!


But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned while I was at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow ratio on a S’more. When Jessi and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue totally resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and quickly invited them to sit, play or hang out with me. I learned a lot about how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences in people without judgment. At the end of the summer, I realized that sometimes I was so focused on the quantity of friends that I have, that I wasn’t focused on the quality. After spending a summer at camp, I learned the importance of having a handful of true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.


I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up and clean in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect, and learned quickly to live in close proximity with other people and respecting boundaries and personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.


I learned that I can, in fact, function without my cell phone and that not everything I do has to be documented through a “selfie.” I learned that without a cell phone glued to my side, I could focus more on the actual experience rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.


I didn’t overwhelm my dear ‘ol mom with all of these things that I learned, and instead just gave her little stories here and there to demonstrate all of the new things I had learned at camp. Sometimes, she was the one telling me about the difference that she noticed in me, things that I had learned that made an obvious difference in my attitude and character. She noticed I was more patient with my little sister, more helpful to her and my dad, I was a better team player for my soccer team, and as school rolled around, she noticed I was focusing more on my grades.


I learned a lot at Camp Starlight. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are foundational qualities that I really feel with set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life. I’m thankful that going to camp was such a fun and natural way to learn so many new things.

The Importance of “Rest Hour”

Monday, December 19th, 2016


Fact: At camp, you are “go, go go.” From the moment you wake up, your schedule is packed with things to do. Some days you’re out at the lake all day, other days you are singing, dancing, acting, crafting and creating from the moment you open your eyes until you fall asleep. Your days are filled with fun and adventure, hanging out with new friends, eating delicious foods, trying new things and making life long memories. With days like these, it’s easy to understand why sometimes campers just need to rest. And as seriously as we take fun at camp, we are just as serious about rest. We know the importance of slowing down, taking a break and recharging, and all of our campers take part in “rest hour” each and every day.


When campers are constantly on the move, when they fly from activity to activity, they sometimes don’t have time to reflect on things they are seeing, doing and learning. A rest hour gives campers a chance to relax, read, listen to music, and sleep before getting back into the busyness of camp life. During this time, campers may want to write letters home, organize their cabin space, or have a conversation with a counselor that they didn’t have time for during the day. This intentional resting time is beneficial for a number of reasons.


Resting during the day is good for your body.  It gives you more energy and lets your body rest from all the activity during the day. Resting has also been shown to improve productivity and focus, which can really help campers who are involved in a wide variety of new tasks and skills.


Resting gives your mind time to let go of stress. It helps you with your patience and to reduce feelings of frustration. Campers need some time to just be alone with their thoughts and relax in their own space.


Camp counselors know the importance of rest hour, and although campers aren’t required to sleep during this time, counselors encourage campers to use this time to relax and unwind and help them become comfortable with alone time and silence. Campers learn that they don’t need to be entertained every second of every day, and learn to appreciate quiet time.


At camp, you’ll spend a lot of your day on the go. But give it two or three days, and you will be looking forward to rest hour as much as you are looking forward to sailing, soccer games, and s’mores around the campfire.

Miss Starlight 2014

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

One of the best parts of working at summer camp is that one frequently has the opportunity to participate in activities and events in which one wouldn’t necessarily engage at home. One such “opportunity” for male counselors at Camp Starlight is the Miss Starlight Pageant. Yes…You read that correctly: MISS Starlight Pageant. For anyone who has ever wondered what would happen if roughly a dozen girls were unleashed onto a male staff member–makeup, wigs, costumes, and props in hand to transform into the best looking semblance (kind of) of a female beauty contestant that they can, the Miss Starlight Pageant would definitely be a “can’t miss” activity at camp.

The remainder of this blog should probably be prefaced with a disclosure that nomale staff members were–or are ever–harmed in the making of the Miss Starlight Pageant. In fact, they volunteer…happily. Being crowned Miss Starlight is a BIG deal for both the girls bunks and their adopted “contestants.”

Once the contestants are beautified (term used loosely…very loosely), they take the stage to compete in a series of rounds to convince a panel of judges, as in traditional beauty pageants, why they should be crowned Miss Starlight. Following the initial Evening Wear round, the contestants are whittled first to ten and then finally to five before the winner is crowned. The first runner-up, of course, has big shoes to fill in the event that Miss Starlight cannot fulfill her–er–his role.

Unlike traditional beauty pageants, however, the Miss Starlight pageant is not reserved for the young. All ages, nationalities, and races are represented and competitive. In fact, one of this year’s semi-finalists was a granny who required a walking stick. Celebrities and pseudo-celebrities are also drawn to the Miss Starlight pageant. “Ellen Degeneres” danced her way across the Miss Starlight stage and into the semi-finals in this year’s competition…and she didn’t even have to wear a dress to do it.

Bamela Anderson–not to be confused with Pamela Anderson, though as similar in appearance to Pamela Anderson as a 20 something male lifeguard wearing a long blonde wig and a red Baywatch style swimsuit can be–was a pseudo-celeb who clearly showed up to win. Though her CPR talent demonstration was easily one of the most CPR demonstrations ever presented and elevated her to the status as the one to beat, she faced some tough competition from “Berica,” a purple loving weight lifter.  In the end, however, Bamela’s fun loving attitude and passion for her life as a lifeguard secured her the crown and the title of Miss Starlight. As for the Lakehouse, her sponsoring bunk, well…they get the bragging rights of having “created” Miss Starlight 2014.

Counselors, It’s Time to Pack!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

You’ve scored an amazing summer job at a sleepaway camp and the summer is so close that you can practically taste the s’mores, smell the camp air and hear your campers laughing. But before you can head off for the summer of your life, you have to pack. Packing can be a daunting task for first time camp staff. Even if your camp supplies a packing list, it’s hard to determine what you may be able to leave behind, if packing space is at a premium, and what you absolutely must have. Here is a brief rundown of those items that camp staff traditionally believe are essential.

If you pack these items, you are in good shape….


You’re working at a summer camp, and “outdoors” is an operative word in your upcoming summer. In fact, you’ll spend the majority of your day outside. Applying sunscreen often and generously insures that you do not find yourself very red and uncomfortable at the end of a sunny day and protects your skin from the potential long term effects of the sun’s rays.

Water bottle

Heat plus a lot of activity equals the need to stay hydrated. Whether or not your camp provides water, it’s a good idea to take a water bottle that can be refilled several times throughout the day. It’s also environmentally friendly by reducing the use of disposable cups.

Several pairs of shoes for all types of weather

Athletic shoes are essential. Multiple pairs, if you have them, are ideal. Most traditional sports oriented camps do not allow staff to wear flip-flops or open toed shoes for activities that are not water related. It’s simply unsafe in an athletic environment. So one or two pairs for water-related activities and days off are sufficient. A pair of rain boots or galoshes is always a good idea.

Bunk/Cabin games (Jacks, puzzle games, etc.)

These activities help facilitate communication with campers, and are so much fun while in the bunk or cabin during resting periods or rainy days. Some items are not allowed in bunks or cabins, however, so be sure you check with your camp to make sure that games and other activity items are permitted.


Some camps provide bedding. Other camps require staff members to bring their own bedding.  If your camp requires you to bring bedding, it is a good idea to bring a thick blanket or comforter in addition to a thin one. Yes, it’s summer. But most camps are in rural mountainous regions, and it sometimes gets cool at night, especially at the very beginning and toward the end of the summer.

Lots of socks and under garments

A saying is among camp staff who return year after year, you can never have too many of either!

Comfortable shorts/pants

Athletic type shorts and pants are best for moving through daily activities, but it ultimately comes down to whatever you feel the most comfortable wearing.

A couple of sweatshirts or sweaters

Again, yes it’s summer, but the evenings can get a bit chilly.

Some colorful shirts and shorts (especially in your camp’s colors)

Camps often divide staff and campers into teams for activities by colors. So it’s a good idea to pack a rainbow of colors so that you are prepared to show team spirit when the time comes.

A few plain white t-shirts/tanks that can be dyed or altered for costume purposes…

You just never know at summer camp.

A bag for laundry

Eventually, you’re going to need to do your laundry at camp. It helps to have a laundry bag for easy transport to and from the laundry.


A couple of pairs are a good idea. There is a lot of movement at camp, and sunglasses are an item that is commonly lost, forgotten or broken.


Ask yourself, what will you be doing at camp? Will you need some type of special equipment that you need to bring. If so, make sure you leave room for it when you are packing.


Most camps are within a reasonable distance to a shop from which these types of items can easily be replenished. So you usually only need enough of these to last the first couple of weeks, if packing space is at a premium.

If you stuff your suitcase or duffle with these items, you’ll be in good shape for your first summer at camp. If you’re concerned that you don’t have room in your luggage for all of these items, call your camp to see if staff members are permitted to ship items to camp.

It’s All about the Staff

Monday, October 14th, 2013

As we all reflect on this past summer and how incredible it was, we want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing staff! Their contribution to camp was immeasurable.  They are a huge part of the reason why this summer was so special. From the Program Heads and Division Leaders to the Support and Counselor staff, we were so impressed with your dedication and commitment to making it the very best.  We recognize that although our program and activities are second to none, the counselor involvement and spirit really make the difference in creating the magic that is Starlight. We love that the Starlight staff understand and enjoy the role they play in their campers’ lives. They learned quickly that as a counselor they could positively impact and influence their kids as well as set the tone for everything here at camp. We appreciate that our counselors take this job to heart.

Camp Starlight is what it is because of the people, and we know how important it is to find the right team that is ready and willing to learn about themselves as well as teach other. Thank you to the people who keep our community the wonderful and safe place that it is. When it comes to camp, there is nothing as important as the people we surround ourselves with. What a team we had–It’s all about the staff!

-Alyson Lee

10 Reasons Working as a Camp Counselor This Past Summer Was the Most Awesome Job Decision You Ever Made…

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

1.) Being able to put “Provided excellent care and fun for several hundred children” or “helped children improve athletic skills” onyour resume is a pretty sweet bonus.

2.) Saying, “My friend who lives in Australia…” or “My friend who lives in Arizona…” sounds a lot cooler (and more worldly) than, “My friend who works two cubicles down from me…”  Not to mention, you’ll save a whole lot of money on accommodations the next time you travel!

3.) You’d take tutus over “business casual” as dress code any day.  Shorts and staff shirts meant you got some extra Zs in the morning, too, because you didn’t need an extra half hour to stand in front of your closet wondering what you should wear.

4.) Fetching snacks for your campers was so much more fun than fetching coffee for a boss–and your campers were more appreciative, too.

5.) You got paid to do lots of fun outdoor activities everyday.  Your friends had to request a day off to do fun outdoor activities.

6.) Your “office” had a much better view than your friends’ cubicles. Summer camp provided plenty of breathing room in the form of roomy campuses as workplaces.

7.) Every day brought new opportunities and challenges that, by the sounds of it, were much more gratifying than spending an entire summer filing and creating mail merges.

8.) Letting loose and acting silly was not only acceptable, it was encouraged.  Your friends got verbal warnings for laughing too loudly in their offices.

9.) The amount of friends and connections you have through social media outlets multiplied exponentially.  Who knew summer camp would be such a great place to network?

10.) Participating in unique Camp Starlight activities like Spirit of Starlight, Miss Starlight, Friday Night Live, and Olympics in addition to getting to witness the campers’ enthusiasm for such deep rooted traditions as Rope Burn and the annual Interfaith Service are special memories that you just wouldn’t have if you had chosen to work anywhere else.

Staff Orientation is Underway!

Monday, June 17th, 2013

The Camp Starlight Staff assembled for the first time at the flagpole on Sunday morning to kick off a record summer with the start of the week long staff orientation.  A morning of introductions and icebreakers, including a duct tape challenge, helped introduce the 240+ staff members from around the world to each other and Camp Starlight.  An afternoon of meetings and sessions was capped by an indoor campfire and welcome party! Everyone is enthusiastic and excited for the campers to in SIX more days!

Reflections of a Camp Starlight Counselor and Former Camper

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

As school starts back up again, I can’t help but think about Camp Starlight, my second home. Everything about Camp Starlight is amazing. When I need a good laugh, the first thing that comes to my head is a story from camp. I am the person I am today because of it. My best friends are those I met at Camp Starlight, not just as a camper, but when I made the transition to counselor. Being a counselor is one of the best life experiences a person can have. You are able to be a kid again and, at the same time, you are able to have an influence on your campers’ lives. This summer, the Upper Senior girls asked me to be their coach during rope burn, which is such an honor. As I watched the girls build the fire, it brought me back to my times as a camper. I remember being Upper Senior captain and thinking how rope burn was the most important thing I had ever done. Looking back, it probably wasn’t, but it was my whole camp experience that changed me. I know that I would not have been able to do most of the things I have done in my life without the camp experience. A great thing about camp is that you can learn something from everyone. Even your campers can teach you something. I have had the opportunity to grow up with such great role models simply because these people were my counselors. Camp Starlight is something that will be a part of my life for years to come because it makes me the person I like to be.

–Julia, Camp Starlight counselor and former camper

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 3

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Finally, we close our trilogy of camp counselor tips with one last blog dedicated to you, future camp counselors…

Get ready to build your resume!  Working as a camp counselor at a summer camp will provide you with some invaluable experience that will serve you well far beyond this summer.  Many HR Managers in lots of different fields find summer camp experience very impressive because of the level of dedication and commitment required.  Summer Camp also demonstrates that you can adapt well to new cultures, which is essential for success in many corporate environments.  In fact, many corporate executives were once campers and/or camp counselors themselves.  If you’re an education major, it goes without saying that experience working directly with children is a huge plus on a new teacher’s resume.

One final warning: As a summer camp counselor, you will act goofy, dress funny, and find yourself doing all sorts of crazy things you’d probably never ordinarily do…and you’ll have a blast while doing them.  It’s what summer camp is all about.  But what other job can you get where being an expert in painting faces, making signs, inventing outrageous costumes, and acting silly are all just part of your typical workday?

So there you have it!  A few suggestions for preparing yourself for a great and successful summer.  Have fun!

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 2

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We promised a sequel and here it is: Orientation 101…

The first thing you should know about the orientation is don’t sweat it.  Yes, it’s intense.  Yes, it’s a VERY busy week and there is a lot to get done.  We know that, by the time months of anticipation for your new summer camp job to start come and you travel (sometimes for hours or even days) to get to the camp and find yourself actually there, even the most staunch start to feel the butterflies.  Remember that everyone with whom you come into contact those first few days is probably feeling the same butterflies—even returners who’ve done all of it before.  But relax.  Orientation is also full of opportunities.  Opportunities to learn more about your new surroundings, opportunities to learn more about your summer camp and embrace its traditions, opportunities to learn more about your summer job as a camp counselor, opportunities to change your mindset and grasp expectations, and opportunities to make friends.

Speaking of making friends, be ready to make LOTS of them from all over the world!  Sure your summer camp job will only last for a couple of months.  But a couple of months are plenty of time to make lifelong friends when you spend everyday together.   You may even find that you don’t need the whole summer to bond.  You’ll probably be planning vacations to visit some of your new friends during the winter before orientation is even over.

Don’t over- or under-pack.  Yes, we know that you’re going to want to cram your entire bedroom into your suitcase or duffel..  But the fact is that camp housing isn’t exactly spacious.  Most summer camps provide their camp counselors with packing lists.  Of course you’re going to want to bring a few personal items, but don’t stray too far from what’s recommended and definitely avoid packing the “DO NOT BRING” items.  In other words, make sure your camp permits camp counselors to bring outside food onto the campus before you pack a stash of Doritos and energy drinks.  It’s also a good idea to make sure you read the camps guidelines about permissible items, particularly those related to swimsuits and shoes.  Once you’re packed, inspect your suitcase one more time to make sure you remembered things that are often easily overlooked or forgotten by new summer camp counselors, like rain gear or bedding (if your summer camp requires you to bring your own).

Chances are that you’re going to get a very important email or envelope from your summer camp very soon, if you haven’t already.   It’ll have some pretty important paperwork for you to complete.  Be sure to pay attention to the specified deadlines for each form.  For one thing, you’re not going to want to be bothered with it after you get to camp.  For another, not filling it out on time may cause pesky delays in important things…like being paid!

Well that about covers the orientation.  We’ve still got enough tips left for you that we’re going to make this one a trilogy.  Be sure to come back in a few days for the final part of this series!