Posts Tagged ‘life at camp starlight’

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.

10 Best Camp Counselor Moments

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Just like a treasure box full of keepsakes or a drawer full of letters from friends, every second at Camp Starlight has the potential to turn into a lesson you hold on to forever. After all, what is camp but a collection of magical moments?


True, the days can be long — but you can always count on this: just when you think you’re getting “burnt out” from school or work, something will happen to remind you why you decided to  be a camp counselor in the first place!


Remember these 10 classic camp counselor moments to remind yourself why you left civilization behind to be a camp counselor at Camp Starlight all summer!

The first campfire of the summer

Every campfire is special, but the first campfire of the summer holds a special place in the collective lore of camp counselors.


After a long (and cold!) year away from the woods and cabins of summer camp, that classic campfire smell comes like a rush of fresh air. Ushering in the new season — and at the same time, bringing back happy memories from summer seasons past. Sigh… truly, no camp moment is more emotional than that first campfire. (Except perhaps the last one!)


That moment when you realize you don’t miss your phone


Digital detox is a big part of camp life, especially if you’re totally addicted to Instagram and Buzzfeed. Sometimes those first few days can be a shock to the system.


The rewards are big, though, for counselors who learn to “tune in and tune out” — living in the moment is way easier when you aren’t tied to yesterday’s Facebook posts!


That moment when you learn to live without your mobile “leash” is a classic camp moment and a lesson you’ll always carry with you.


Getting up on stage and making a total fool of yourself


You never were into acting. You also couldn’t imagine that you had any creative talents to share. But there you were at camp up there on stage totally making a fool of yourself. Setting a great example to your campers by going out of your own comfort zone and participating in the evening activities at camp is something you will never forget. Yes, the picture of you in the crazy wig and tutu found its way on facebook but now your friends and family back home will see a different side of you.

The glory of shower hour


Showering at home may be kind of “meh.” But showering at camp? Basically the opposite of “meh!” Nobody said camp life had to be muddy, right?

The only real challenge of shower hour at camp is making sure everybody doesn’t take a full hour just to themselves! Trust us when we say you’ll never forget that camp shower feeling — nothing feels better after a long day of running around in the sun!

The last s’more of the summer

The first day of camp and the last day at camp are always the most emotional for summer camp counselors. Making new friends! Going back to school! It can be kind of a crazy roller coaster (but a fun one of course). Camp is all about traditions, so chowing down on that last traditional campfire s’more is bound to be a moment you always remember. Cheesy? So be it!

Sending postcards to your friends at home

Let’s be honest — isn’t it a relief to be working at Camp Starlight this summer instead of painting houses or checking out groceries like most of your friends from school?


Sending postcards home is one of those moments when you stop and realize exactly how awesome it is to be where you are. The question is, how can you fit all that enthusiasm into one five-by-six inch card?

Fourth of July at camp


Fourth of July is always awesome. Fourth of July with all your friends at summer camp? Four times as awesome!


We may raise the flag at camp every day, but it’s extra special on the Fourth of July. Who knows, there might even be a few fireworks…

When you cheer up a discouraged camper

Being there for your campers when they need you is by far the most fulfilling part of the camp counselor experience.


I still remember the counselor who helped me cheer up and get back in the game when I felt homesick at my first sleepaway camp. So getting to do the same for a camper with the blues felt all the better.


The power to turn “having the blues” into “having a blast” is the superpower that separates camp counselors from mere mortals!

Getting mail from home


Yeah, sure, Mom can be annoying sometimes. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and getting mail from the folks is a special moment for camp counselors.


Especially when you’re close to the end of the season, those little pieces of home start to feel a little bittersweet. It’s nice to know that you’ll get to see the ol’ homestead again in a few weeks — even if you’d rather stay at camp all year around!

The last campfire of the season


Just like the first campfire of the year sets the tone for the future, the last campfire of the year gives everyone at camp a chance to reflect on a season well-spent.


Everyone around you has gone from being friendly strangers to life-long friends and chances are you know the camp grounds like the back of your hand.


Cherish those last few group songs, and remember: next summer will be here before you know it!

4 Ways Camp Creates Happy Campers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

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Did you know that there are certain things, certain scientifically proven things, that are shown to create and increase the hormones in our brain that make us happy? This isn’t just some fluffy stuff we made up, it’s proven by really smart scientists who know their stuff!

The amazing thing is, that most of the things doctors and scientists recommend people to do to be happy can all be done at camp! No wonder kids who spend their summers at Camp Starlight are some of the happiest kids around!

Stop and Smell The Roses

Well, any flower will do, really. A study done from the Human Emotions Laboratory at Rutgers University found that “flowers in general are a powerful positive emotions inducer.” In the study, people exposed to floral scents were three times more likely to have immediate associations with happy and positive memories. Lavender can decrease anxiety and depression and jasmine can have a calming effect. Lucky for campers, the grounds are a hot spot for beautiful fauna, and sweet smelling flowers can be found just about anywhere. There are many distinct smells at camp, including sunscreen, bug spray and s’mores. But the soft scent of flowers will definitely boost your mood anytime.

Exercise in the Morning

Exercise plays a huge part in your mood. When we are feeling slow and lazy, our mood tends to reflect that. When we are active and moving about, we tend to be happier. Exercise releases endorphins and proteins that make us feel happier. Getting active first thing in the morning is an excellent way to prepare your brain for a great day. At camp, kids have plenty of opportunities to start their day with a run, a swim, yoga class or a game of football. Getting an early start is a great mood changer, and can be the first step in a happier day!

Spend Time With Happy People

Everyone has had that one friend or acquaintance who is negative all of the time and who complains a lot. It can be mentally exhausting to be surrounded by all of that negativity, and it’ll eventually take a toll on your personal happiness. Scientists say surrounding yourself with happy, positive people will make you a more positive and happy person. It’s hard to be down and depressed when you’re around people who are hungry for life, laughter and adventure. And, what do you know, camp is chock full of happy people. Both the campers and the staff are having the time of their lives, and their mood, vibes and happiness are totally contagious.

Go Outside

Being outside and connecting with nature can do wonders on your mood. Getting out and about has been proven to increase concentration, reduces stress, and (surprise!) can boost your mood and overall happiness. The fresh air is good for you, the Vitamin D you get from the sun is beneficial, and the ever-changing scenery of the outdoors is an excellent way to get your brain working and help you to focus better. A large portion of a camper’s day is spent outside, enjoying the sunshine and exploring nature, and this helps them to feel energized and excited.

Teachers and parents have said time and time again that they can just tell the difference between kids who go to camp and kids who stay home. “There’s just something different about kids who go to camp. It’s their confidence, their mood, their overall happiness” is something heard quite often about campers. And it makes sense! Spending the summer at Camp Starlight is the perfect formula for happiness, and gives a whole new meaning to the term “happy campers”