Posts Tagged ‘outdoor adventure’

The Joy of Unplugging for the Summer

Monday, October 30th, 2017


Today’s world has become inundated with technology. Whether it be checking the amount of likes you received on your latest Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, or trying to take the perfect selfie, our focus on technology has overpowered our daily lives. Without the ability to live in the moment and appreciate our surroundings, technology continues to have the upperhand on blocking face to face communication between individuals. This is why getting the chance to unplug for seven weeks at camp is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the outside pressures of life and enjoy the people that surround you.


For seven of the fifty-two weeks of the year, you can explore everything the world around you has to offer. Once reveille blows in the morning, your day starts by enjoying the view of the morning mist coming off the lake and the sounds of birds chirping. Meals are filled with lively conversations with your bunkmates, spirited cheers, and songs. As the day progresses, opportunities to grow your creativity and skills continue. From learning how to dive at the lake to conquering your fear of climbing the rock wall to then fly down the zipline, unplugging allows us to experience new adventures each day of the summer.


It may sound far-fetched, but the friendships I have established at camp have surpassed all other relationships I have ever made. Camp friends see the real you, not the version of yourself that you post for the world to see on social media. Without the barrier of a screen between individuals, concrete bonds can form and lifelong memories are made. Interactions at camp are both real and authentic. I still talk to my bunkmates from my first summer in 2006, and when I see them, it is as if we have never been apart.


The unplugged atmosphere at camp allows you to be yourself at all hours of the day. Whether it be coming up with a dance for MTV night, going to different activities with your bunk, or dressing up for a wacky event, your spirit and confidence shines. Everywhere you look, people are smiling, cheering, singing, and dancing. At camp, you can be yourself and achieve all your expectations, with the acceptance and support of everyone around you.


The act of unplugging is so much more than being without technology for seven weeks. It’s a chance to explore, create, and experience new adventures. Unplugging has allowed friendships to be established and lifelong memories to be made. Most importantly, unplugging at camp allows us all to embrace our individuality and learn to be our true selves.

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!

Adventure Abound

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The outdoors and adventure are both synonymous with camp, so it’s no wonder that some of the most popular activities at camp involve outdoor adventure. Summer camp outdoor adventure programs of today have transcended the traditional nature walk (although those still occasionally happen). Outdoor adventure at camp truly incorporates “adventure” into the activities. Campers have the opportunity to scale 50 foot walls or fly over camp on a zip line. They maneuver their way across high and low ropes courses. Using GPS trackers, they locate objects hidden throughout camp. On sunny days, they hike through the woods while enjoying waterfalls, mountain views and absorbing the scents of leaves, trees, and grass. They learn valuable outdoor living skills.

Adventure is defined as an “exciting or unusual activity.” Certainly, for most campers, there is very little that is mundane about standing at the top of a 25 foot platform preparing to take a leap of faith. For that matter, even the traditional hike through the woods is less than ordinary for the majority of children today. Campers frequently report feeling “refreshed” or “invigorated” following outdoor adventure activities. A study conducted by the Children & Nature Network suggests those aren’t just adjectives.

Children who spend time in close proximity to the outdoors tend to feel more energetic than children who spend large amounts of time indoors. They’re also less stressed and anxious. That’s because fresh air literally has a calming effect. Another study conducted by The National Recreation and Park Association concluded that, simply put, our brains need oxygen. Oxygen promotes a healthy psychology as well as helps children relax and even improves their immune systems. There is also data to suggest that exposure to the outdoors has a positive effect on attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. The study concurs with that conducted by the Children & Nature Network; there is a reason parks were built in urban areas to promote good health. They do just that.

Outdoor adventure activities at summer camp provide campers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the outdoors through exciting mediums that aren’t available to them at home. Although climbing walls and even zip lines are being constructed by many suburban recreational centers, a good number of them are indoors. Engaging in adventurous activities outdoors reaches beyond mental and physical health benefits. It helps campers develop an appreciation for the natural environment and a distinct awareness of what separates artificial environments from nature. Sure, several outdoor adventure activities can be recreated indoors, but the sights, sounds, and smells that campers learn to associate with them cannot.

Camp Starlight Outdoor Adventure

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Head of Outdoor Adventure Chris Zammarelli’s main goal coming into this summer was to build the best program possible and offer more aspects of outdoor adventure.  Based on the number of campers who have flocked to the various activities that comprise the Outdoor Adventure program Chris has exceeded his goal.  In fact, one of the most popular new programs at Camp Starlight this year is Outdoor Living Skills, a new elective activity that is part of the Outdoor Adventure program.  Outdoor Living Skills provides campers with the opportunity to learn outdoor proficiencies such as fire building, navigation, shelter building, and wilderness first aid.  Other Outdoor Adventure activities in which Camp Starlight campers can participate include high and low ropes courses, the infamous Star Jump, a zipline, climbing wall, fishing, and mountain biking.

Chris believes that a great deal of the success of this summer is attributable to a staff that is really enjoying their positions.  “They are an amazing group to work with,” Chris says, “They are fun, smart, and outgoing.  The staff always jumps up to help whenever needed and are eager to get campers suited up and climbing.”  Chris himself has a passion for teaching.  He has a Master’s in education and teaches middle and high school math and science during the winter.  He also works at the University of Oregon Rec Center as part of the climbing staff and is motivated to spend his summers working at camp by his desire to have a better understanding of teaching and working with children of all ages.  He also hopes to improve his leadership skills.

Chris is proud that he and his staff have been able to elevate the Camp Starlight Outdoor Adventure program to a level that is beyond expectations for a camp.  He is proudest, though, that he has been able to watch his staff and the campers expand their Outdoor Adventure and Outdoor Living skillsets.  With the summer of 2013 nearing an end, he is already looking forward to next summer when he hopes to continue to improve and expand an already immensely popular program.

Ropes Course: Lessons in Climbing High in Life

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

One of the most popular activity periods for Starlight campers every year is our ropes course. The highly trained and certified staff instructs campers of all ages in the art of scaling the rock wall, shimmying up the Star Jump, and leaping to an exhilarating ride on the zip line every day.  However, during these activities, campers are not simply learning the ins and outs of outdoor adventure. As they leave the ropes course each day, they take with them several lessons in life application.

Upon approaching the ropes course for the first time, Starlighters probably experience a few butterflies in their bellies. However, our staff spends time with them teaching safety procedures and climbing terminology.  They also, of course, pump them up with some pep talk. By the time the campers are fitted into harnesses and belayed up the wall, the sense of anxiety has disseminated  into excitement! When children secure their sneakers into the first step, they take a big step in life as well. Maneuvering the ropes course for the first time teaches campers to try new things despite having a sense of reservation about the unknown. The importance of instruction and preparation is a lesson in safety and demonstrates to campers, ‘Yes, we are going to have a blast! But it is critical to be ready and educated so that it is just as safe as it is fun.’

There are many other benefits to a period spent at Outdoor Adventure. At Camp Starlight’s rope course, you can always hear cheers coming from the ground up to campers advancing up the rock wall. Kids are constantly telling their bunk mates, “YOU CAN DO IT! TRY ONE MORE STEP!” and “WAY TO GO!” This experience is teaches the campers on the ground a valuable lesson in encouraging others. It also gives the climber a sense of support from other campers, and it bonds the group by giving them the opportunity to play both the encourager and receiver of praise. Whether children make it to the fourth step instead of the third like last time or they swiftly navigate to the top of the wall, there is a sense of accomplishment. When campers walk out of the gates of Outdoor Adventure they take with them the praise received from onlookers and the acknowledgement of their success, which is a vital boost to self esteem.

Camp Adventure Programs Help Campers Soar High

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Anyone would feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment after scaling a forty foot wall and then whizzing down a zip line or perhaps, while attached to a harness of course, taking a giant leap of faith off a perch with a great view.   But when the person is under the age of sixteen,  the feeling is unmatched.  This is the sense of elation that camp adventure programs bring to campers every summer.  Adventure is one of the most popular  programs at camp.   But what’s the point of all that climbing, jumping, and zipping around you ask?

For starters, high and low ropes courses have been used for some time now as team building event, probably the most commonly known reason for their usage.  In the case of a high ropes course, which is often at least thirty feet above ground and is sometimes as high as fifty, courage is one of the first words that comes to mind.  Quite simply put, it takes a lot of courage to shimmy up a ladder or patiently work your way trial and error up a climbing wall and then attempt to maneuver across  beams or rope of miniscule width with the ground looming below, even if one is safely secured to a harness and cables and spotted by trained professionals.  Trust is really what high ropes courses are all about.  A high ropes course challenges campers’ comfort levels and forces them to put trust in their fellow campers and camp staff, who also share in the inevitable sense of pride after successfully finishing a challenge.

Low ropes courses, on the other hand, encourage team building.  They feature such elements as webbed rope nets, trust falls and activities that challenge participants to get their entire team between platforms by building a bridge, or to move from wide cables to narrow ones.  More specifically, at camp, low ropes provide a great way for campers to bond with one another and encourage cabins to work together as a unit.

Nature programs  also often compliment outdoor programs by helping campers reconnect with nature and understand the importance of preserving the environment.  Fishing is another part of many outdoor adventure programs.  While fishing is a perfect relaxing social opportunity, it’s also a great way of increasing children’s patience level.

So it’s no wonder that these outdoor adventure programs are not popular merely for the lofty challenges that they provide, but  for the thrill and sense of pride campers feel for having had the courage to accept and achieve them.