Posts Tagged ‘camp family’

Epic Anniversary

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Tonight, Camp Starlight is celebrating its 68th anniversary during the annual Anniversary Party. Because time flies at camp, it’s easy to forget just how long 68 years of family, tradition, spirit, adventure, and fun is–and how much it adds up. When Camp Starlight opened, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. Since Roosevelt, there have been 12 additional United States Presidents. Man walked on the moon. An entire space shuttle program began…and ended. Computers have gone from being the size of an entire room to being the size of notebooks. Practically every household has a television. Microwaves were invented. The VCR came…and went. There have been literally dozens of movies and television programs made about camp. Through it all, Camp Starlight has thrived. In 68 years, there have been literally hundreds of campfires and thousands of campers. The flag has risen over the camp no less than 3,000 times.  From 10 original bunks to 50 plus a Lodge and a Lakehouse, from less than 100 campers to nearly 600, the Camp Starlight 68th Anniversary Party is a reason to celebrate a camp that has not merely stood the test of 68 years but is alive with the pride of campers, staff, and alumni. And celebrating we are! Campers and staff alike are dancing and singing along with live bands from Camplified. Earlier today, everyone enjoyed the carnival. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “epic” as ‘telling a story about exciting events or adventures.’ Given the history of Camp Starlight’s 68th Anniversary Party is E-P-I-C!

Responsibility is Opportunity

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

One of the things to which every camper and staff member looks the most forward to each Friday evening during the Camp Starlight services is the Key Staff address. The Key Staff address is a message given by a senior staff member pertaining to a theme. Lower Inter Girls Division Leader Tracie Saltzman presented a different take on the theme of responsibility that highlighted the qualities that Camp Starlight strives to promote and develop in both campers and staff members.

I feel truly blessed to be in front of all of you tonight to talk about responsibility. What is responsibility and how do you feel whensomeone tells you that you are responsible for something.  I bet your parents tell you that you have many responsibilities. Responsibility to do your homework, maybe responsibility to clean your room or clear your place at the dinner table. Here at camp, I know that I, along with your counselors, tell you about the responsibilities that you have. Clean your bunk, be quiet at line up, get to activities on time, stack your tables and the list goes on. All of these things that you “have” to do can be overwhelming and stressful. Even the dictionary defines responsibility in a way that can be perceived as negative. It says that responsibility is when you have a job to take care of something or to do what is expected.

I would like for you to look at responsibility a little differently. I would like for you to look at responsibility as an opportunity. At Starlight, we all have responsibilities so we all have opportunities. At the opening night show, several of you marched in with the banners that are displayed everyday in this rec hall. The values of Camp Starlight:  Spirit, Tradition, Adventure, Fun and Family. All of those values are your opportunities here at Starlight.

Opportunities to show your Spirit: Cheering on bunk mates to succeed, dressing up for a themed event, chanting in the dining room, wearing the blue and white during Olympics, representing Camp Starlight at an invitational game, a Wayne County game or right here during a league game.

Opportunities to continue the Traditions of Starlight that have left their mark here throughout the years. Olympic songs and sing banners hanging here in this rec hall, the bunk plaques decorating the dining room, morning and evening lineup, the Friday night service that always starts with the singing of Bim Bom, and when we all gather here in the rec hall to sing our hearts out at the pre-visiting day sing along.

Opportunities for Adventure. Everyone’s adventure is different, but it’s the opportunity to try something new. Maybe it’s singing in a play in front of the entire camp or waterskiing for the first time, scoring a run, creating a new arts and crafts project, radio show or sports broadcast, jumping from the star-jump or catching a fish.

Opportunities for fun: Shaking your napkin, tubing, playing an awesome game of name that tune with camp brothers and sisters, dancing at a mustache tutu party, running slope for lope, or just full on singing “Let it Go” at the top of your lungs with 800 others singing right along with you!

And Opportunities to embrace our Starlight family like being a good camp brother, camp sister, bunkmate, counselor—you are an integral part of your division.  We are a family built on bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime! We all have the responsibility and, therefore, the opportunity to carry on the values of Starlight and to keep it a strong and vibrant camp.

The returning campers know this and you 1st year campers will see that at the end of the summer, just before we have our banquet, all of the campers that have had parents, grandparents and great grandparents that were also campers here at Starlight, gather at the flagpole for a generational picture.  It is amazing to see how many of you are in that picture each summer. We all have the responsibility and opportunity to carry on the values of Starlight so that someday, when you have kids of your own, they can be in that picture at that same flagpole, overlooking that same beautiful lake having had the best summer with their Starlight family.

I want to thank each and every one of you for giving me the opportunity to share and enjoy another incredible summer at my home away from home. It’s a responsibility that I value forever in my heart.

Starlight Staff: Learning All about Starlight Family, Traditions, Adventure, Family, and Fun

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The adventure has begun here at Camps Starlight for the staff of 2014. They’re here preparing to meet all of our campers on Sunday, and they’re an OUTSTANDING group of people. Their enthusiasm is amazing. We definitely have a lot of great new additions to the Starlight family. Already they’re making the Camp Starlight dining room one of the funnest place to eat in camping and can’t wait for our campers to get here to show them what Starlight spirit is really about. We’ve also engaged the staff in some of the awesome activities that we have here at Camp Starlight every summer. They’ve even had a chance to experience our program! Although they’ve already learned a lot about Camp Starlight and we’re all eagerly anticipating the arrival of the campers, there is still a lot to teach them about some of our traditions, so we’re glad we still have a few more days before the buses pull up the camp road and the real fun begins!

Camp Family

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Over the next several weeks, campers will arrive at summer camps all over the country knowing that although each summer brings new surprises, it also brings the familiarity of a second family and home. For campers, camp is a touchstone of people, activities and events on which they can depend each summer.

For those who have never experienced summer camp, it’s difficult to imagine forming such tight bonds with others in the span of a month or two. Those who have attended or worked at a summer camp understand cmaps are more than a place where campers go to have fun and enjoy the outdoors each summer. They’re a place where friendships and networks are formed that last long beyond the teary goodbyes and hugs that mark the end of each summer.

Although almost ten months pass between summers, with camp family, it inevitably feels like everyone was together just minutes ago. Hugs are plentiful when camp campers reunite with their camp family and conversation comes easily. There’s also an easiness about the pastoral settings of summer camps that facilitates a relaxed atmosphere. Tradition is an easy place marker that helps everyone slip back into the summer routine.  And the thrill of the endless combination of opportunities to embark on new adventures is balanced with the everyday act of sitting down to meals with camp “siblings” or coming back to the bunk or cabin at night to share the details of the day.

Summer camp is a naturally inclusive atmosphere, which is perhaps what makes it unique from other social settings and allows for tight familial bonds to form in such a short period of time. There’s also something to be said for the overnight aspect of sleepaway camps. At sleepaway camp, campers are together around the clock as opposed to a school or day camp setting in which the majority of campers return to their homes at the conclusion of the day.

There is an intimacy about sharing living quarters that makes people more open and even accepting of each other. Sleepaway camp friendships, like family relationships, are built upon the knowledge that everyone must co-exist. Campers tend to maintain acquiescent opinions of one another, and disagreements are typically brief. Personality quirks are not only socially acceptable at camp but often an attraction. There is a saying that summer camp is the only place where ‘you’re so weird’ is a compliment.

Family is comprised of people who accept each other for who they are, in spite of any and all flaws, and encourage each other to be themselves. For campers, their camp “family” is no different, which is what makes them so eager to return to their summer homes each summer.

The Bunk Family

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

One of the most highly anticipated moments for new campers is finding out to which cabin/bunk they have been assigned.  It’s also the moment when they meet the fellow campers with whom they will spend the next several summers experiencing all of camp’s adventures.  Bunk living is a very big part of the summer camp experience.  Whether it’s a special bunk or cabin joke or song, or even late night storytelling, the bunk is a very intimate environment that is essential to a successful summer.

For new campers, it’s a ready environment to make those first friends at summer camp.  As new friends journey through the summers, they become close friends, laughing as they enjoy all of the rites and traditions alongside one another, then old friends tearfully saying farewell to their final camp summer together, and, finally, lifelong friends who get together for reunions where they remember camp times.  Essentially bunk mates become family.

Bunk mates are the first people campers look for when they step off the bus each summer, racing to each other for hugs when they find each other.  They’re also the final goodbye at the end of each summer.

There is definitely something special about learning how to live and work with others in such a close-knit environment each summer.  It’s a special opportunity that is as much a summer camp tradition as the campfire or the sing-along.  Although everyone at camp is part of the larger camp family, the bunk/cabin environment facilitates a highly individual and very personable experience.  There will always be shared camp experiences.  But shared bunk memories are unique to each specific bunk/cabin.  Even more importantly, being part of a bunk is a childhood experience that is specific to camp.  It’s a set of memories that cannot be acquired anywhere else

My Summer Home

Monday, January 6th, 2014

I’ve spent the last three summers at Starlight as both a counselor and assistant division leader. It’s hard to remember who I was before I came here, considering how much being at camp has changed me. As cliché as it sounds, I have truly grown as a person and met some of the most wonderful people while doing so. Every summer, since making the decision to join the staff, I’ve had opportunities to do other things, but never really considered being anywhere else….this is where I am supposed to be.

I have talked my friends deaf about my experiences and attempted to share with them the magic that Starlight holds, but it is something that needs to be seen first hand to fully grasp. The want for everyone to have this experience I have been blessed with has made me one of the biggest advocates for my peers on both trying and returning to camp.

We use the term “summer home” quite a bit, but it is for good reason. As soon as I venture up the camp road for that first entrance of the summer, I immediately check any stress and outside pressures at the door. Starlight is where I am with my friends, amazing campers, and a community of once strangers who I now consider family.

-Banner W.