Posts Tagged ‘Camp Starlight activities’

Play-Based Learning at Camp Starlight

Monday, November 28th, 2016


With hundreds of different activities, sports, events and things to do at camp, it is no surprise that campers spend a large portion of their day at play. Whether you’re playing on the soccer field, on the lake, on the stage or in the pool, there is never a shortage of playtime at camp. But there is more to play than just having a good time. When kids play, they learn, and when they learn, they grow. For campers, it may feel like a summer free from learning or education, but they are learning a lot while they play.


Studies show that when young children play, whether it is with blocks, cars, on the playground or in a sport, they are doing a lot more than having fun. Play sparks their imaginations, which helps to improve their problem solving skills and encourages creativity. Being able to play alone helps kids feel independent, while playing in a group helps kids with important values such as sharing, compromise, taking turns, patience and flexibility. More physical play, like running, jumping or dancing helps kids with their balance and coordination, and boosts their confidence. Play is the main way that kids explore the world, and is essential in their social and emotional development.


At camp, kids spend all summer playing, and therefore spend all summer learning. They may not realize that participating in crafts is teaching patience, hand-eye coordination and appreciation for the arts, and they may not realize that team sports is teaching them cooperation and communication. It may not be until they get home and others begin to see a change in their personality or character that they realized they learned a lot at camp. They may search their brains trying to pinpoint a moment when they learned a certain thing, and most won’t be able to. Learning through play can be a subtle process, which is also why is it so effective.


Play based learning is just as important as academic learning. Kids spend all year behind a desk, looking up at a teacher who is spitting out information. If they are lucky, they will get one or two teachers to use a more hands on approach to learning, but as the students get older, play and exploratory learning becomes less and less common. After spending all year filling their brains with facts and figures, a summer of play is something most kids look forward to. Some will spend their summers in front of a mind numbing computer screen or watching endless hours of TV, which does nothing for their developing minds. Kids who spend their summers running, jumping, trying, failing, laughing, communicating, climbing, making, singing and exploring learn so much more than those in front of a screen. They learn about the world around them, about their peers, and most importantly, about themselves.


The importance of play cannot be stressed enough when it comes to the growing minds of kids. Young kids are like sponges, and soak in information from all areas of their lives. Spending the summer at camp gives them a chance to learn differently than they do all year, and studies show that what kids learn during play may stick with them longer than listening to the same information through a lecture. When they do it themselves, when they touch and see and feel and experience something, they will remember it.

Campers play all day, which is why they love being at camp. While they are playing, they are also learning, which is why parents love summer camp. Academic learning is a vital part of childhood development, but play works on a child’s brain like nothing else can, and the best part: they don’t even know it’s happening.

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

Monday, November 21st, 2016



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.

Learning to Compromise at Camp Starlight

Monday, October 10th, 2016


Growing up as an only child has many perks. I was always the focus on my parents’ attention, I had all of my own stuff, own space, and when a family decision had to be made, I always felt like my opinion was heard and, more often than not, given serious consideration. Sure, there were times when I wished I had a sibling to play with, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the solo child life.


As I get older, I’ve started to notice that things that are easy for my friends with siblings, like compromising, taking turns, and being patient, don’t come as naturally to me. Their entire lives are made up of figuring out how to live harmoniously with their siblings. They’ve had to make sacrifices, they’ve had to come second (or third, or fourth) and they’ve had to learn about delayed gratification. They’ve had to think about the well-being of their siblings before themselves, they’ve had to share rooms and clothes and toys, and in turn, these character traits seem to come naturally to them.


It took me about 3 hours at camp to realize that I was going to have plenty of opportunities to strengthen these particular traits. Going to camp is like having 100 siblings, and in order for the “family” to run smoothly, everyone has to be willing to compromise, be patient and think of others first. To be totally honest, it was a hard reality to adjust to at first. I quickly learned that my mess wasn’t appreciated or tolerated in a shared space. I also learned that my opinions, wants and needs weren’t the only ones that mattered, and my hesitation to take anyone else’s opinions or thoughts into consideration came across as rude and selfish. That was a slap in the face, and humbling for sure.


My counselors were amazing, and were patient and calm when I wasn’t. They took the time to talk to me when I was feeling overwhelmed, crowded or impatient. They helped me look at the bigger picture, and reminded me about how good it felt to work as a team, a family, a collective unit, instead of just thinking about myself.


About a week or so into camp, I could already notice the mental shift happening inside of me. I saw the biggest change in my attitude regarding being surrounded by people all of the time. My whole life, I’ve had the luxury of being able to be in my own space and to “get away” whenever I wanted to be alone. I always had my own things and my own space, and getting used to sharing my time and space with others took some getting used to. But as the days turned into weeks, I began looking forward to these group settings and I enjoyed the constant buzz of people around me. I loved our late night chats after lights went out, and I appreciated having people who would share their sunscreen with me when I ran out. Sharing space, time and things with people turned out to not be so bad after all.


At the end of camp, I felt like I had gained 50+ siblings, and a whole new set of character traits that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am a more patient person because of camp. I am better at sharing, I compromise more, I’m more giving, more aware of my personal space, more accepting of people’s differences, and for that, I am eternally grateful.


I may be the only child at home, but since my summer at camp, I have plenty of camp siblings who are just a text, phone call or email away. Camp gave me much more than just a summer away from home; it has strengthened my character and given me lifelong friends.

Why Outdoor Adventure is Important

Monday, August 22nd, 2016


As a camp counselor, I’ve always been surprised by the wide range of lessons that campers take away from the outdoor adventure activities at camp.


Some campers benefit most from building a sense of self-reliance and resourcefulness. Others particularly enjoy the non-competitive aspects of the activities, which combine the adrenaline of sports with the positivity of teamwork. And of course, some campers just like having fun in the sun.


Regardless of interests, everybody at Camp Starlight gets to benefit from outdoor education. Nature, like adventure, is universally meaningful — and universally fun.

Personal development

A camper must learn to trust themselves before they learn to trust others, and outdoor skill-building is one of the greatest ways to build self-confidence.


The world is a scary place, and survival skills like fire-starting and shelter-building teach campers that strength comes from within; all it takes to survive and thrive in the world is a little know-how and ingenuity.


…Not to mention that knowing a thing or two about how to pitch a tent and read a map opens up a whole new world of outdoor recreation activities for life outside camp!

Teamwork vs. competition

Teamwork is one of the core values at camp, and nothing builds trust and communication between teammates quite like working together to solve the fundamental human needs that outdoor exploration puts us in touch with. That being said, outdoor adventure still requires a high level of teamwork, even though the objective isn’t “beating” another team.


There are no winners and losers when the goal is to make a campfire or build a cool shelter; it’s campers against the wilderness, rather than campers against campers. Students learn to work together to conquer a challenge, without worrying about accomplishing anything more or less than their absolute best.

Finding our place in the world

When it comes to outdoor adventure at camp, the “outdoor” side is at least as important as the “adventure” side.


Adventure is all well and good, but the raw experience of being in nature is what makes seemingly simple activities like hiking and camping so memorable. Particularly for campers coming from the city, a reminder of how small we all are in the grand scheme of things can be immeasurably valuable. The great outdoors are important for everyone. After all, it’s wild woods, crisp air and clean water that makes Camp Starlight such a special place to “get away from it all!”

Can-do attitude

Whatever particular aspect of outdoor adventure captures a camper’s imagination, they are guaranteed to walk away with a new sense of empowerment. We live in a fast-paced and quickly changing world, and the outdoor experiences at camp leave campers ready to tackle the world with creativity, determination, and humility. Just get outside and try it!

Olympic Rewind

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

The Camp Starlight Olympics is over, but so much happens in just a few short days that it’s hard to keep up with it all in real time.  So here is an Olympic rewind; everything that happened in reverse.  Closing ceremonies, Planet Blue Boys won, White Controllers Girls won, track meet—Olympic victory came down to the final tug of war for boys camp, Sing—one point gave Planet Blue the victory, the Apache—White Controllers claimed the win for the girls while it was a draw for the boys, Senior Rope Burn, hockey, soccer, gaga, swim meets, gymnastics meet, dance competition, lacrosse, trangle ball, newcombe, volleyball, boating, basketball, synchronized swimming, baseball, softball, cooking, eco-science, water polo, soccer shots, flag football, tennis, newcomb, Trivia Bowl—a boys camp tie decided by a gig, opening ceremonies, clown break.  In short, it was several very busy days.

In the end, if there is one word to describe these Olympics, it would be “intense.”  Both teams came to every event hungry for a win and it showed in the scores, which were so close throughout the competition that victory came down to the final day of competition for girls and, quite literally, to the final tug-of-war for the boys.   The teams played hard from the beginning to the end of the competition yet never forgot to have fun while demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship.  The Senior Rope Burn was one of the best Camp Starlight has seen in years.  The apache relay was neck and neck throughout and a single point determined the Sing winner.  In other words, the 2013 Camp Starlight Olympics was an excellent exhibition, on behalf of the campers and Officers, of what Olympics is all about.  It’s a time to bring everything you’ve got to a game, but to remember that when all is said and done, everyone, including the members of the other team, are your fellow campers, colleagues, and friends.

The Visiting Day Dust Has Settled

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Another great and truly pleasurable Visiting Day has come and gone.  Thank you, everyone!  Inevitably, some of your goodbyes were a little wet.  That always happens.  But something else that always happens is: camp begins again.  For one day, the action stops for families to be reunited for a fun afternoon.  Then, goodbyes (for a few more weeks) are said, parents and grandparents drive away, and activities start again.  In fact, since Visiting Day we’ve enjoyed a show, Upper Camp took on two evenings of amazing challenges, many of our girls competed in the Camp Starlight Dance Competition, several Wayne County games have been played, and—oh yeah, as part of the daily regular camp program, campers have been enjoying tennis, baseball, softball, boating, swimming, cooking, soccer, basketball, flag football, circus, magic, sports broadcasting, digital photography, fitness, dance, fishing, outdoor adventure, gymnastics, creative writing, arts & crafts, ceramics, woodworking, and the list seems nearly endless these days…In other words, what we’re trying to tell you is, don’t worry that the children are still crying.  They’re fine.  In fact, they’re better than fine because once the dust from Visiting Day settles, campers begin to focus what’s still ahead during the next few weeks—and for good reason.  Some of the best parts of camp happen over the next few weeks.

The Senior and All Camp shows, MTV Night, divisional trips, the Anniversary Party, Carnival, Olympics, Banquet, and did we mention Olympics?  Oh, how about just one more time: Olympics.  We have to mention a few times because the buzz starts early and the anticipation grows for several weeks before the big break.  In fact, one of the saddest aspects of the last few weeks of camp is that they pass every bit as quickly—sometimes it seems even more so—as the first few weeks leading up to Visiting Day, and we know that all too soon, we’ll all be saying goodbye for another ten months.  But…

Let’s not jump too far ahead ourselves.  For now, parents, we hope the Visiting Day dust has settled for you as well, and that you’re as focused on having a few more great weeks of summer as we are.  That you enjoy the photos, blogs, and Facebook posts.  And that you get the pleasure of enjoying lots of great camp stories in just a few weeks.

Thanks once again for a great Visiting Day 2013!

“Break”ing News!

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It was the end of the Starlight Interfaith service.  The Starlight chorus was singing a lyrical rendition of “America the Beautiful” with the laser image of an American flag projected behind them.  As they sang, the flag grew.  The song ended.  Everything went black.  Within seconds, anticipation was brewing among campers and staff alike.  Everyone knows what happens around this time every year, and the break buzz has been circulating around camp since the campers returned from their trips.  What would be this year’s break?  The suspense ended when the Starlight Playhouse was lit up by a spectacular laser light show, choreographed to the Summer 2012 theme song “We Take Care of Our Own.”  The official “Olympics” announcement, as well as the 2012 team names–The White Crusaders and The Blue Wave– didn’t project out into the room until well into the tune, but EVERYONE knew what was happening.  By the time it was official, the crowd had erupted into a deafening roar.  Excited campers scurried to see whether this year they were cheering for blue or white.  It was a Summer 2012 evening that no one will forget.  Good luck to both teams as they begin several days of competition tomorrow!

Miss Starlight 2012…Plenty of Pomp and Circumstance

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Miss Starlight…Part mock beauty pageant.  Part Camp Starlight’s take on dress up.  Each girls bunk chooses a male camp staff member and transforms him into a pretty pretty princess…or something like it.  The contestants then strut their stuff on stage in a display of pageantry and talent that would put—well—really no one to shame.  But it’s all still very funny and fun to watch.  Fortunately, the contestants are not only great sports when it comes to their “makeovers” but they’re incredibly inventive when portraying the characters their bunks have invented for them.  Whether Scandinavian royalty, country girls, or even elderly women, they put their heart and souls into their performances as they fight to win the title for their respective girls bunks.  This year, girls bunk 18 proved themselves the most likely to land their own reality makeover show in their transformation of Armani, who every other day but the one on which he emerged as Miss Starlight 2012, is normally a counselor in boys bunk 21.