Posts Tagged ‘camp for kids’

Are You Ready for the 10th Anniversary of the SWF?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Starlighters, in 2011 we will be embarking on a very important milestone in history.  This summer will be the 10th anniversary of the Starlight Wrestling Federation, an event unrivaled and looked forward to every year! We know the 10th annual SWF match will entertain with laughs and new champions from a fresh line-up of contenders, but looking back, what have been the best moments? Was it the shock of seeing our favorite bus driver, Kathy, step into the ring and body slam Tracy? We all remember the days of Team Canada being led in by Megan and backed up by the daunting strength of Hugh, a veritable legend in SWF history. Perhaps your favorite moment was when the Tambourine Trashers of Lower Camp put out the flames of the Upper Camp Fire Department. For me, it was when the entire Starlight branch of the Boczkowski family strutted their way to the ring to lead Kyle to victory! Whatever the moment, the Starlight Wrestling Federation match has wrangled its way into our hearts.  We can all look back and laugh and smile as we remember our counselors and key staff braving the pit of apple sauce, watermelon, creamed corn, Jello, or whatever else we had cooked up for the event. Who can guess what sort of shenanigans and characters we may see under the bright lights before us as we gather together this summer for the 10th time to cheer on the winner of the highly sought after gold belt?

1,3,5,6 We Want Olympics!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Over several decades, across many miles, and in the heart of campers of all ages lies the excitement of arguably the most anticipated event of the summer. When will it happen? Who will be our leadership? What team will I be on? These questions echo in the minds of campers and counselors alike throughout the school year, and they only grow more intense as the summer progresses. So what is this hallowed event that has everyone’s attention? And what is it about this event that has everyone so excited?

Well, at Camp Starlight we call this thrilling week of spirit and competition Olympics! Our campers and staff pass many a spare moment over the year thinking about what the team names will be, who will be the officers and captains, and what the theme for Sing will be. Once the summer kicks off, and the weeks begin to pass, whispers about when it will break can be heard around camp.

But as anyone who has spent a summer at Starlight will tell you, Olympics is an exhilarating week of athletic, strategic, and academic competition. Whether your strength is playing on the soccer field, catching cheese balls on your shaving cream laden head, or having the fastest buzzer pressing thumb in Wayne County, your team will be depending on your contribution! From the second Olympics breaks to the moment your feet hit the lake after the final scores are announced, the electrifying spirit of the Blue and the White can be felt in the air. At Starlight, there is no doubt that we truly do justice to the time honored tradition shared by summer camps around the country and passed down over many years.

So the next time you catch yourself daydreaming of smearing on your face paint or spraying your hair in your team’s shade, know that there is another Starlighter somewhere sharing in your excitement and anticipation. So until we’re back together facing off on the fields, dodging gigs in our seats, and handing off the baton, make sure to keep “B-L-U-E, we got the spirit!” and “We are the white team! Couldn’t be prouder!” fresh in your thoughts!

Summer Camp: Curbing Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that nearly 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese, it has become imperative that we, as parents, make as much effort to set our children up for success in establishing proper food habits, just as we would in other areas of their lives.  Three primary causes consistently cited for childhood obesity are lack of physical activity, an unbalanced diet and overeating.  An often overlooked benefit to summer camp is the significant impact it has in curbing childhood obesity by promoting an active lifestyle and healthy eating practices.  In this multi-part series, we will examine the efforts being made by summer camps to battle poor diet and exercise.

Part I.  Physical Activity
Beyond traditional summer camp sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, roller hockey and gymnastics, many camps are increasingly focusing on the development of extensive programs for such popular fitness activities as spin, running, weights, zumba, yoga and the martial arts.  The instant popularity of these programs suggests that children have a natural interest in exercise and will engage in it of their own accord in the absence of many of the daily distractions that promote a more lethargic lifestyle but are not readily available at summer camp, such as computers, video game systems and television.  The ability to participate in fitness programs as a form of fun also encourages campers to approach such activities with an open mind rather than as something forced on them and that is only done out of necessity.  

Some camps are also experimenting with nutrition programs that marry cooking activities with fitness. Such programs teach campers how to plan healthy meals and snacks and then prepare them.  Cooking programs are among the most popular at summer camp.  To merge them with nutrition is a clever way to demonstrate the importance of using discretion in choosing what we eat and consuming it in moderation.  In the past, the idea of “diet,” as in depriving oneself of necessary nutrients, has been cited as a contributing factor in the growth of eating disorders and yo-yo dieting.

For those who question the lasting effects of fitness and nutritional habits adapted at summer camp, statistics indicate that they won’t be going away anytime soon.  According to the American Camp Association, more than half of children who pursue a new interest at camp will continue pursuing that interest once they return home.

Up next, part II.  An Unbalanced Diet

Swirl Some Color into Your Winter by Tie-Dying at Home

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

One of the most popular arts and crafts activities at Camp Starlight is tie-dying. There is no better way to liven-up a t-shirt, tank top, pillow case, or pair of socks than a fun tie- dying activity! Rain or shine Camp Starlight loves to tie- dye!  Even though it may seem better at Starlight… you don’t need to be in the Carriage House, surrounded by Leslie Schwartz and her talented team of Arts and Crafts Specialists to make something fantastic. You can follow these simple steps at home with your parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends to create something awesome to bring to camp in 2011!

#1.) Preparing the Shirt for Tying and Dying

•          First, the shirt must be 100% cotton or it will not hold the dye.

•          Always prewash the shirt.  It contains a fabric finish when it is new and this prevents all the dye from being absorbed into the fibers.  Washing will remove the finish.

•          Pre-soak the shirt in 1 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of water. If you mix this with your hands, wear rubber gloves. Soak for 15 minutes to 1 hour.  The soda ash solution losses its effectiveness after 1 hour. You can no longer use it.  Dispose of the soda ash solution.

•          Squeeze out the soaked shirt. Wear rubber gloves when doing this. You are now ready to tie your shirt.


These are the directions for creating a swirl design. Make sure to place a large sheet of plastic down to protect the table.

•          Place the shirt out flat with the front side down. The side that is down always has the better appearance.

•          Place a clothes pin where you wish the center of the swirl to be.  Remember, that the center of the shirt may come down low on the person wearing it.  You may want to have the center of the swirl off center, near the top, or near the bottom.

•          Holding the clothes pin, swirl the shirt.  Gather up loose edges as you go.  The shirt should not go up in a point, but rather gather up only a few inches above the work surface.  When you are finished, it will be similar in size and shape to a round layer of cake.

•          Gently lift the twisted shirt and place a rubber band across the shirt, crossing the center point.  Add two more rubber bands, creating six “pie” sections.  These do not have to be equal in size.

•          Turn the shirt over and make sure that the rubber bands cross or X across the center of the swirl.

•          You are now ready to dye.

#3.) Dying the Tied Shirt

•          Cover the tables with plastic sheeting to prevent the dye from staining the surface.

•          If you are dying outside, you can work on the grass.

•          Place an entire newspaper under the tied t-shirt.  Have the newspaper in 2 large sections. The newspaper will absorb the dyes that overflow the shirt.

•          Remember the color scheme that you will be using.

•          Put on the rubber gloves.

•          Using the squirt bottles containing the mixed dye, start with your first color. Carefully tip the bottle over and point it at the triangular “pie section” of the tied shirt.  Start near the edge and squeeze the dye out gently.  Move toward the center as you dye that section.

•          Change colors as you go around the shirt.  For three colors you will repeat the colors twice on each side.

•           When you turn over the shirt, flip the newspaper to a clean section.

•          You will be able to see the colors used on the sections of the dyed side.  Repeat the same colors on the second side.

•          When the shirt is dyed on both sides, place the shirt inside a plastic bag.  Twist tie this closed. You will leave the shirt inside the bag for 24

#4.) Washing and Drying the Tie-Dyed Shirt

•          Again, leave the dyed shirt inside a sealed plastic bag for at least 24 hours.

•          There are two ways to rinse and wash a dyed shirt (multiple or single shirts).

•          The first way is to rinse the shirt out in a sink or with a hose until most of the dye is gone and the water runs clear. Remove the rubber bands and continue to rinse, if necessary.

•          Place rinsed shirt in a washer and wash with detergent.  ((Warm water is okay.)

•          You may place the shirt in the dryer or line dry, if you choose.

•          The 2nd way works well with a single dyed shirt. You may skip the rinsing and instead place the shirt in the washer and wash it alone in a complete load of water.  No pre-rinsing is necessary. Dry.

•          Now wear your shirt!

Just in case you need a few helpful tips… here are Leslie Schwartz’s Top Tips for creating an awesome masterpiece.

  1. Mix the soda ash and dye solutions ahead of time. Store mixed dyes in the refrigerator so they don’t lose strength.
  2. Make sure the rubber bands are on super tight; the tighter they are the better the shirt will come out.
  3. Make sure to wear rubber gloves.
  4. Pick colors that will look good together – like turquoise, navy blue, crimson, etc. If you want high contrast like yellow and purple, be sure to do the colors at separate times so the purple and yellow cannot mix! Maybe you can do the first (lighter) color one day and the second color the following morning.
  5. Rinse project after dyeing with warm water, followed by a cool water rinse.
  6. Have Fun!
  7. Have Fun!
  8. Have Fun!

Pining for a Good Ol’ Starlight Cookout

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Let’s be honest… who does not find themselves on a random Wednesday evening pining for a good ol’ Camp Starlight cookout? Is there any better way to enjoy a nice, juicy burger or hot dog with a side of delicious knishes and a fresh slice of watermelon? Top it off with your favorite soda, lemonade, or refreshing iced tea and what more could you ask for? You find yourself drifting off to an evening of great Pennsylvania summer weather, shooting the breeze with your camp friends on the plush lawn of the golf course hill. It’s a fond memory for some and a daydream of cookouts to come for many of us.

During the summer, we enjoy those S days with a late reveille and fun filled days spending time together with our divisions. Once the bugle call resounds through camp, you know the meal we all look forward to from week to week has finally come! You make your way across camp with a little more pep in your step than usual. When you are greeted with the smiles and expert spatula skills of Scotty B. and his crew of male division leaders, you can almost taste the delicious meal. You line up and tap your foot or maybe sing along to the latest tunes Jason has pumping through the speakers, then take your spot across from the Upper Seniors, who are no doubt having a blast piling food on plates with a smile and a joke for everyone.

Once you have your plate’s fill of whatever combination meets your fancy, you direct your attention to the spread of campers and counselors relaxing on the grass. Making your way through the groups, big and small, of Starlighters congregating together while they enjoy their dinner, you finally find your spot of perfect grass with your friends. And the rest is history! Cookouts on the hill are always an evening of laughter, music, and quality hang out time with your friends, camp family, and staff. It has become a very special time of the week for everyone to get together and talk about the wonderful memories and adventures they’ve experienced as well as the adventures still to come. So the next time you find yourself lost in the memory or anticipation of a Camp Starlight cookout, close your eyes.  We just bet you’ll be greeted with the gorgeous panorama of the mountains and the mouth watering aroma of a burger flipped by Scott and company, prepared just for you!

Building Community At and Beyond Camp

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

I don’t know about you, but a good number of my current communities are one step away from reality — they only exist online. I have a Facebook community, which includes a good number of friends-of-friends that I’ve never met in person. I visit a set list of blogs every day and have a great time interacting with the authors and the other readers. While our definition of community might be expanding, I don’t think any of us have lost sight of the importance of a good, old-fashioned in-person community though.

According to the American Camp Association, parents have identified the development of social skills/living in community (such as making new friends, getting along with others, becoming more responsible, and learning group-living skills) as one of the main reasons they send their children to camp. The owners, directors and staff at summer camp all understand the power of community and structure these skills into their programs in several areas.

1. Communal Living

I am an only child, and as such, I always had my own room when I was a child, so living in a camp bunk for the first time was a huge learning experience. For the first time, I had to be part of a community of people who were sharing space, delegating work and working, communally, to make things work. It didn’t take long for me to get into the routine of doing my part and see how even the most menial job — mine was taking out the trash – contributed to the health of the community.

Bunkmates must also learn how to navigate the waters of communal decisionmaking. They must work through the inevitable issues and conflicts that come up in bunk living — and they must learn to adapt and get along when things don’t go their way. They learn to live by the will of the majority, while at the same time respecting the needs of others who represent the minority. Again, according to the ACA, “small group living also provides the necessary intimacy for individuals to achieve a sense of belonging, explore a variety of group roles, cooperate and form relationships with others, and have input into the group’s activities”.

2. Eating and Singing Together

In the past few years there has been a large ad campaign promoting family dinners. Sitting around the dinner table sharing stories, concerns and the high and low points of your day with family members — or fellow campers — creates intimate bonds between all of the participants. Most camps have family-style meals and singing traditional camp songs together is often a ritual. Songs are always a founding piece of any culture and at camp, at the end of session when everyone knows the camp songs, they too become community bonds that live through the years.

3. Connections that Last

Although sometimes I am annoyed with how much of my life occurs online, there’s no arguing that modern social networking has helped nurture the lifelong friendships developed at camp. Now, instead of waiting days or week from a letter from a camp pen pal, you can send a text message, IM, or just nudge them on Facebook. Many camps have Facebook groups, some devoted exclusively to alumni from certain years, so the 50-somethings reminiscing about camp in the 70s can be a subgroup of a larger online camp community.

No matter how much time passes, the camp community lives on. Alumni have frequent get-togethers and are always welcome to spend a day visiting their old camp haunts. Many camps host reunions every year and invite alumni from different generations to come and visit together, creating yet another community, another branch of the family tree.

Want to get and stay connected with Camp Starlight? Check out our Facebook page!

How did you experience community at camp? How have you sustained it since? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!


Shining Star…

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

A dream, a wish I make each year,

Is to go to a place warm and dear.

A magical place where friendships stay,

A place where I can just get away.

A beautiful lake for swimming and fun,

A magical place where I’m in the sun.

Activities and events will be planned,

A true friend that will hold my hand,

A place where fun and laughter isn’t rare.

Smiles that just light up the place,

Coming back each year and seeing a familiar face.

A second home but no parents in sight,

Fifty days and forty nine nights.

Boating, swimming, arts and crafts,

Many more activities and laughs.

Olympics, competitions, Wayne county too,

A song to sing…can’t smile without you.

Good food and matzah ball soup,

A guy who sings about a fly that poops.

Meeting new friends and memories that won’t fade.

Projects and crafts that I made.

After my wish I went to bed that night,

But I realized it wasn’t a dram or a wish…

It was Camp Starlight…

Life, Unplugged

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I don’t know about you, but my kids are constantly plugged into something, whether they are texting their friends (does anyone talk anymore?), bopping along to Lady Gaga’s latest, updating their Facebook status, researching a school project online and creating a multi-media presentation, or playing games on my iPhone while I desperately try to finish a conversation at the vet’s office.

Some days I can win a battle or two (no texting at dinner!) but the war is ongoing. And honestly, I’m not the best example. That iPhone I mentioned is never far from reach, and right now I’m surfing online, listening to my own brand of pop music, answering text messages as they come in and writing this blog.

Don’t you wish there was a place where we could all live life unplugged? We adults may not be so lucky; but for our kids, that place is summer camp.

Knowing that someone out there is cultivating a culture of back-to-basics, low-tech life is an irresistible draw for me as a parent. My husband and I love the outdoors and frequently take our kids on short camping trips, but these offer only a short break from the world of “screen time”. Monday morning comes and before the sleeping bags air out, we’re all rushing to see what awaits us in our email inboxes.

As a mom, I worry about the long-term effects of all of these tech ways of communicating. I’m not alone. Several studies have suggested that kids who spend too much time plugged in lose some skills for interpersonal interaction. Let’s fight back.

At camp, social interaction is done the old fashioned way – face-to-face. Campers and counselors alike leave their cell phones at home and get back to a simpler life, when there is an art to conversation. If you were a camper, think back to your best memories. All of mine involve revolve around interpersonal interactions you just can’t get through an email: telling stories around a camp fire; sharing hushed secrets late into the night; telling the worst jokes you ever heard; huddling together to decide the best capture-the-flag strategy.

Friendship doesn’t need a high-tech interface. Don’t think your kids will get with the program? Check out this Seventeen article where teen girls share their favorite summer camp memories. Not one involves a cell phone, I promise!

Thanks to Pink_Sherbert_Photography and eron_gpsfs for the photos!