Posts Tagged ‘camper friendships’

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.

How Summer Camp is as Magical as Disney!

Monday, September 5th, 2016


They say Disney is the most magical place on Earth, but ask any kid who has spent the summer at Camp Starlight, and they’ll beg to differ. They’ll tell you of a place that feels magical, that sparks their imagination, a place they can’t wait to get to and a place they never want to leave. They will tell you about a place where you can spend the entire day going, playing and doing and STILL not do and see everything there is to see. They’ll tell you that camp is a lot like Disney, but better.


There is something about making the journey to Disney that adds to the magic and excitement of the experience. Even if the drive is long or the flight is exhausting, there is something about the journey that adds to the excitement.  The same goes for camp. The build up, the anticipation, the letters in the mail, the newsletters and all of the things that lead up to the initial trip to camp help build the excitement before they even step foot on the grounds.


Camp is made for kids, much like Disney. It is made with growing imaginations in mind. Camp Starlight takes everything that kids love and roll it into one jam-packed summer. And, like Disney, every kid can find something they love at camp. Camp caters to athletes, thespians, crafters, animal lovers, thrill seekers, writers, outdoor enthusiasts, artists, nature lovers and everything in between, just like Disney caters to pirates, princesses, evil villains, talking mice and ducks that dance. Whatever campers are into, camp has something for them.


It goes without saying that a day at Disney is a day filled with fun, but for most families, it is just a day. Some lucky families can spend a few days exploring Disney, but usually no more than a week. The great thing about camp is that is lasts for the summer, and kids have plenty of opportunities to try everything, and then re-try the things they love the most. Camp is a summer of fun and adventure, giving campers plenty of time to bond with new friends, and allowing them to enjoy everything camp has to offer without feeling rushed.

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned at Summer Camp

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Back in 1988, the book Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten was written by Robert Fulghum. However true the points the author makes may be, it is arguable that those who go to summer camp would feel otherwise. Although summer camp is packed full of fun times, arts and crafts projects, and songs around a campfire, it is also an experience rich in life lessons that carry on far into adulthood. Children who are still of camping age probably think that a crazy concept.  To them summer is simply two months filled with sports, activities, and bonding time with their friends. But those who are past the age of those simple days of fun in the sun feel certain they have taken far more from their summers spent at camp.

The years a child spends away at summer camp are the years when development is at an all time high. It is the age when a children build the foundation of their personalities, life attitudes, and personal relationships with others. The most basic lesson hidden in the experience of going to summer camp is the independence found in leaving the familiarity of family and friends at home. Going off to a new place without mom or dad around to help manage time and personal space is a giant step in the right direction for learning personal responsibility. In joining a group of kids their own age as a unit, the children learn to accept compromise, share, and respect others in a fun environment. As they step into the bunk, they also learn the roles of new authority figures in their counselors, instructors, and camp administration.

The relationships founded between counselor and camper are bonds that are remembered for many years past the days spent in the bunks together. These friendships teach respect and acceptance of the new adult assuming the position of summer caretaker for the child. It is a gentle transition, as the role of a counselor is generally focused on the child having a great time but also ensuring the child is safe, fair, and well-taken care of. Children learn that authority figures are not to be seen solely as someone who tells them what to do, but as someone who genuinely cares about their welfare, progress, and interactions with those around them. Camps enact policies such as group clean-ups and team building exercises utilize the necessary time spent doing chores and outdoor activities to become educational experiences for each child. The concepts of personal responsibility and teamwork become second nature at camp, and they are indispensable as the child moves on to college and adulthood.

Another indispensable quality learned through staff member relationships with campers is the characteristics of “coach-ability”; the acceptance of instruction and constructive criticism. Every summer, children are excited to spend time on the fields and courts during athletic activity periods. While they are learning the proper way to shoot a lay-up, they are also engaging in a fun, educational lesson in observing and learning from others. While they obviously enjoy one area more than others, they are expected to both try and improve in the all activities. They spend the day with others in their bunks or divisions who have different interests and strengths and, through those performances, are able to see that everyone has their own niche and range of capabilities. This builds the early cornerstone of mutual respect amongst others and the idea that they can learn something from another person, even if that subject matter does not necessarily spark their full interest. The camp implementing full participation expectations from every child also teaches them the idea that they should always play a part in the activity and do their best at the task at hand.

The final lesson most prevalent in a child’s growth in camping is the sense of pride that is found in being part of a group and engaging in its traditions. For years to come, former campers will reflect on campfires, evening activities, sing-alongs, and the everyday routines of their camp days as fond memories spent at a place where they found their summer home. There is a spirit of pride and camaraderie when they see a person from their camp get into a highly renowned university, publish their first book, or take the field as a collegiate or professional athlete. A shared sense of accomplishment for that person shows the strength of the bonds found in camp friendships and the acknowledgement of others’ personal victories. Those in their post-camping days find that through painting their faces, raising their voices in a round, and taking roles on as senior campers stick with them in later years as a sense of unity amongst a group of people. By taking part in something that stood before them and has continued on without them, they carry with them the role they played in a part of the history of that place. The good feelings and happiness found both in the moment and in years to come instills in a camper the value of relationships with others and taking pride in an establishment. This further develops loyalty and commitment in other organizations ranging from teams, sororities or fraternities, community service projects, and even in the professional corporations they find themselves in later in life.

In conclusion, it may seem that the issues at hand make a simple summer spent with friends too serious. However, those who look back on their experiences in camping with fond memories know the things they learned at camp are still with them. The relationships built often outlast those of neighborhood and schoolyard friends, and in them they find some of their greatest confidantes and oldest friends. The tools gained through taking part in summers at camp haven proven useful in the obstacles faced years later. Therefore, it is quite obvious to those who at some point called themselves a camper that they truly learned everything they needed to know at camp!