Posts Tagged ‘summer camp 2011’

Camp Sick

Monday, September 5th, 2011

The summer of 2011 is over, a new school year has started, everyone has finally unpacked their camp bags, and now the wait for the summer of 2012 begins.  Ten months isn’t really that long.  Every year we manage to wait it out.  But when it’s September and the fun times we had this past summer are still fresh in our minds, it seems like an eternity; and, inevitably, we all feel a little bit (or a lot!) camp sick.  We all know the feeling.  Some of us find ourselves singing camp songs or have the urge to tie-dye something…maybe even set our ring tones to Reveille or just sit around with camp friends re-living all of the memories from the summer.  Saying goodbye to another summer in our own way is a rite that we go through every fall.  We not only say goodbye to our camp friends, but our counselors, and upper campers.  But on the upside of goodbye is hello.  Hello to all of our new friends who will join us for the first time next summer.  Hello to the challenge and excitement of planning a new summer that’s even better than last.  Hello to good times that turn into new memories.  Hello to a new group of campers.  Hello to the new counselors and staff members who choose to make camp their summer home next year.  Hello, everyone. We can’t wait to see you in the summer of 2012!

Another Summer Has Come to a Close…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

We can’t believe how fast another summer flew by.  It truly is a privilege for us to be able to host so many campers each summer.  We’re sad that the Summer of 2011 has already drawn to a close, but excited to begin planning for the Summer of 2012.  For us, our greatest challenge is to make each summer better than the previous.  That’s a hard thing to live up to when the current summer has been so amazing!  Collectively, we really couldn’t have asked for a better group of parents, campers, or staff members.  We know that all of you are what makes Camp Starlight!  We can’t wait to meet those who will be joining us for the first time in 2012 and to welcome back all of our friends!  To everyone, here’s to living 10 for 2…until our next 2!

Going Gaga for Ga-Ga

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Something you might not know about summer camp:  It breeds passionate athletes in many different sports, even ones that are little known outside of summer camp, such as ga-ga.  Although it’s not well known in America (but becoming more so everyday!), hoards of campers dream all winter about getting back into the ga-ga pit.  Many camps even have ga-ga tournaments!  Camp challenge weeks even have ga-ga challenges.  There is no doubt that campers are going gaga for ga-ga!

So what is this ga-ga?  It’s a little like dodgeball in a circular enclosed space.  Many camps feature ga-ga pits , but the game can be played virtually anywhere there are four walls or barriers.  As in dodgeball, when players are hit with the ball, they are out.  They may, however, use the walls of the ga-ga court to clear the ball.  As players are struck by the ball, they are eliminated, and leave the pit.  The last boy (or girl) standing wins.  Two primary ways that ga-ga differs from dodgeball is that ga-ga strikes must be at or below the knees and players bounce rather than throw the ball.   Also unlike dodgeball, players may either bounce the ball at other players or against the walls of the pit.  Some camps have adopted rules of play unique to their campers’ style of ga-ga play, while others prefer to stick to the official rules…What?  There are official rules?  Yep.  In fact, there is even an International Championship Tournament held annually in Europe.  More than 30 countries , including the U.S., winner of multiple championship titles, participate.

No one quite knows how ga-ga originated or where it comes from, but rumor has it that the game gets its name from the sound the ball makes during the opening play.  It’s bounced twice in the air and  the players say “ga” on each bounce.  On the third bounce, the ball is in play (some rules call for three bounces with the ball officially in play on the fourth bounce).  So warm up your ga-ga hands and start stretching.  We’ll see you in the pit!

Animation at Camp Starlight

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The animation program at Camp Starlight is proving to be really popular.  Headed by Cindy, our campers create short films using stop motion techniques.  This clip shows “Nigel” falling off a backdrop designed by campers.

Got Communication?

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Parents: Camp is here.  You’re packing bags, making last minute preparations, and listening to endless stories with increasing enthusiasm about what happened during the summer of 2010 in eager anticipation for summer of 2011 to begin.  You’re checking and re-checking to make sure all of the paperwork has been submitted and the bag pickups have been scheduled.  So we figure now is the perfect time to talk about the importance of maintaining good communication with your Camp Directors—now and throughout the summer.

Camp is a big deal for your children and for you.  Whether you’ve planned a quiet summer at home or have an awesome vacation planned, we know that your top priority is to know that your children are having an amazing summer.  You can help, simply by being informative.

We’re first and foremost concerned for your child’s safety and well being.  Some of you probably wonder why we ask for photos of your children prior to camp.  It’s so that we can show them to your children’s counselors when we discuss your children’s activity preferences with them so that they can greet campers by name from the moment they step off the bus and have full knowledge of how to make their summer successful.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of communicating medical issues.  Whether it’s an allergy to certain foods or insects, perhaps a dietary restriction, asthma, a vitamin deficiency, or wetting the bed, your camp directors need to know so that these matters can be handled appropriately as situations relating to them may occur throughout the summer.

We also want to know what your children’s interests are.  If we know your child can’t get enough soccer, for instance, we can make sure that he/she gets maximum exposure to soccer during the summer.  Knowing what your children like only helps us guarantee they have the summer of a lifetime.

Personal family matters are never easy, but if there is something happening at home—a divorce, illness in the family, academic issues, etc. it helps us to know.  Perhaps it’s a positive development.  Your child has landed a new role in a film, has made a particularly competitive athletic team, has earned a special honor at school.  Whatever IS your children’s lives at the moment they come to camp, we want to be able to channel it into an amazing summer for them.  And we’re confident we can.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t ask.  As your child’s “summer family”, we want to know how we can help them be at their best.

If anything comes up between the time you put your child on the bus or plane to come to camp and the time we put them back on the bus or plane to come home that might affect his or her summer, please call us.  We want to know what’s happening.  We want to understand how we can make your child’s stay at our camp effortless and memorable.  Even if it’s minor, if you have any reason for pause, please call us.  We want to be proactive in making your child’s experience memorable.

Words From The Past

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Whilst clearing out The Cottage today, getting ready for our 65th summer to begin, we came across a handwritten note from Emily.  There is no date, but these words are timeless. Thank you Emily!

Dear Parents, Family and Friends,

Although the summer is coming to a close, the memories campers have made will always stay with us.  Each year camp gets better and better and eventually Camp Starlight will become second home and the people that surround you will become your family.  From the first day of camp, friendships will be made that will never be broken or forgotten.  From the minute you get up you know that the day that is starting will be the best day.  You can go to sleep knowing that you have tried new things.  Throughout the ten months of the winter, Camp Starlight is what campers think about every day.  No matter how far apart people are, they will almost always come back for Camp Starlight for the two best months of the year.  “Living ten for two” is our motto.


Orientation is well and truly under way

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

250 Starlight staff have arrived safely in Starlight, PA and now the huge task of getting everybody ready for the 65th Camp Starlight summer begins.  It goes without saying that some things just happen almost by themselves – the sun comes out, the sky turns blue and the red bunks seem to gleam against the impossibly green grass – but that’s just a small part of summer.  Camp just wouldn’t be the same without the amazing people, both campers and counselors alike, who become our friends and surrogate family for just a few weeks.

Our staff this year comes from 39 states and 13 countries – that’s a lot of air miles clocked up just getting here!  Our staff are some of the best in their field and it is testament to Camp Starlight’s reputation that they want to spend the summer sharing these skills with others.  The passion, the drive and commitment of all our staff is evident and unquestionable, but how do we get everybody to come together and create a unique summer experience?  That is what orientation is all about.

Firstly it’s a time to make new friends and to form the working relationships that will provide the support, guidance and instruction for our campers.  Program Directors are working with their staff to devise classes and prepare their areas for the weeks ahead.  Kyle is working hard to pull all these great ideas into a structured program and you can be assured that this summer is looking awesome.

Secondly it’s about acquiring or building on the skills that make for a safe, happy and (most importantly) fun summer for us all.  For new staff, this means such simple things as learning the structure of the camp day, camp rules, and the running of the dining hall.  There’s a range of talks from childcare professionals, including David and Allison themselves, on issues such as camper concerns, behavior, child protection and sun safety.  Many Starlight staff members are parents themselves and this offers our college age counselors a wealth of experience they can fall back on.  It’s about not only learning what to do, but also who to turn to if you have a problem. 

Finally, being perfectly honest, orientation is also about having fun.  At 10am on Sunday 19th all staff met each other around the flagpole for the first time.   The few nervous faces quickly disappeared once we were playing games to get to know each other.  Later in the day we’re putting on skits to introduce ourselves properly and tonight we are heading out of camp on a trip.  All this fun has a purpose though, whether a returner or new staff member, we all have something to learn which can make this summer the best one ever.  Anticipation is rising for the arrival of the campers – we’re almost ready for you so if you could just hurry up these next few days please as we can’t wait to meet you all.

A Glimpse at Orientation…The Training of Camp Staff

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Every summer you pack your children up and entrust them to the care of others for the summer.  Have you ever wondered what sort of training is provided for your child’s summer camp staff?   For summer camp staff members, the season begins at least one week before the campers arrive with Orientation.

What is Camp Counselor Orientation?  Orientation is a week for camp counselors and other staff members to…

Become familiar with the camp’s expectations.  Summer camp staff members participate in workshops relating to teamwork, camp policies, and child development. During this time, counselors are also familiarized with ACA standards and the importance of maintaining and exceeding these standards.  It’s during this training that counselors are able to grasp that their new summer job, though fun, carries a lot of responsibility and 24/7 focus.

Familiarize themselves with their surroundings.  Your camp wants counselors to understand the campus prior to your camper arriving.  During Orientation, staff members are given every opportunity to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings, as well as which areas require special supervision.

Make new friends.  Why is this important to you?  Happy counselors make better counselors.  As you well know as parents, having a proper support system in place is essential to the success of any parent.  Those looking after your children this summer are no exception.  Orientation is a time for summer camp staff members to become comfortable with their new co-workers and begin to get to know each other.

Attain necessary certification.  Those staff members working in areas such as waterfront and outdoor adventure must have training and certification prior to supervising your children.  For some staff members, this entails arriving at camp well before the camper arrival date in order to be fully prepared from the day the first camper sets foot on campus.  Outside experts such as the Red Cross are often brought in to conduct lifeguard training.  Outdoor Adventure and Waterfront  areas also frequently utilize external professionals to train their staff.

Understand what it’s like to be a camper.  Many camp orientation programs follow mock daily camp schedules and encourage staff members to participate in many of the same activities that their campers will throughout the summer.  Most staff members live and function as members of groups during this period.  The role play isn’t merely designed to give staff members an idea of what’s in store. It gives them the opportunity to embrace the camp’s traditions so that they can share in the enthusiasm with campers.

Receive very valuable and essential education to understanding and working with children.  Summer camps take the well being of their campers very seriously and spare no expense in this area of Orientation.  Big name speakers are brought in for lectures and workshops that educate staff members with the latest, most up-to-date childcare information and relevant laws.  Counselors and other camp staff are left with no doubt or misunderstanding that the campers and their safety are the reason that they are there and, as such, come first.

Mentally prepare themselves for the arrival of campers.  Even the most seasoned childcare professionals and educators can feel a bit overwhelmed when suddenly surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic children who’ve waited ten months to see their camp friends again.  By taking place on campus before the campers arrive, Orientation serves as a sort of segue from the camp counselors’ lives back home into their new summer lives by giving them some time to adjust to their new home and surroundings before the chaos that is summer camp ensues.

Finally, Orientation is an opportunity for Camp Directors and Senior Staff to assess how their staff interacts and identify individual strengths and weaknesses.  This helps them assign camp counselors to bunks and age groups in which they’re likely to provide the best leadership.

So when you put your campers on the bus in June, you can bet that a very excited and well trained camp staff is waiting on the other end to meet your children and give them the best summer ever.

10 Things to Do before Your Children Leave for Summer Camp

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

10 Things to do before Your Children Leave for

10. Complete all of the camp paperwork.  This provides the camp with valuable details about your child that they can pass onto their health center and counselors.  Knowing your children’s interests before they arrive helps the camp place them into cabins or bunks in which they’ll thrive, provide them with the best program options, and be able to supply them with any medication they may require.

9. Buy stationary, pre-address and stamp envelopes for letters home.  Many camps have specific time set aside in their daily schedules for writing home.  Pre-addressed envelopes help ease the process of sending the letters campers have so lovingly written.  This is particularly the case for younger campers.  Also, familiarize yourself with your children’s camp policy regarding camp packages to avoid disappointment that may result from sending items that are undeliverable to your children.

8. Review the camp’s packing list and make sure you have everything.  Don’t overlook things like extra socks and underwear as well as rain gear and warm clothing.

7. Review your camp’s handbook with your children.  Camp handbooks contain valuable information regarding the expectations of campers.  Emphasize that camps put such guidelines in place for the safety and well being of their campers so that they can insure everyone has the most fun possible.

6. Make your Visiting Day plans and book lodging.  Yes, it’s true that your children haven’t even left for camp yet.  But many hotels within the immediate vicinity of a camp often book months in advance.  If you’re unsure of the lodging options near your children’s camp, contact the camp office.

5. Make sure your children’s camper accounts are in order.  Some camps maintain “spending accounts” for campers.  These accounts provide additional funds for campers to take along on out of camp trips to purchase souvenirs or treats.  If you’re unclear at all, call the camp office. Keep in mind that these are often separate accounts from those that cover in-camp expenses such as canteen and laundry services.

4. Ensure you have all adequate sports and musical equipment in order:  the wheels on the roller blades are oiled, the shin pads are the proper fit, and the guitar strings have been tightened.  Just as if they are going off to rehearsal, your children’s sports equipment will receive as much of a workout at camp as it will at home.  Sending your campers with properly maintained and fitting equipment can have a tremendous affect on the success of their summer.

3. Pack.  It sounds so simple.  Yet, for camp, it’s quite the production.  Most camps strongly advise against packing any clothing that can’t withstand commercial laundry services.  It’s also wise to remember that camps often downplay the importance of physical appearance, which means leaving the “dry clean only” and “one of kind” items at home is typically a good idea.  Once you have your children’s bags packed, don’t forget to arrange for them to be delivered to camp by the designated date.

2. Review the bus pickup location and procedures.  It’s particularly important to understand what your children can take on the plane or bus and what they can’t.  Carefully review whether lunch will be provided for your children either on the trip or when they get to camp, or if you should provide packed lunches for them.  Understand the carry-on limitations, particularly in regard to sports equipment.  Finally, be on time to the departure point.  Of course, people inevitably get stuck in traffic or lost (as is particularly the case for new pickup locations), but try to get a sense of where you’re going ahead of time and leave a bit early if necessary.

1. Wish your children an unbelievable,  happy summer.  They’re going to have one!  But knowing you’re supporting them 100% just makes it that much better— particularly for first time campers.  Remind them of all the fun they’re going to have.  Let them know that you can’t wait to hear about it in their letters, and that you’ll be monitoring the camp’s website daily for blogs and photographs in addition to sending them letters and email.

The Starlight Playhouse

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As the summer of 2011 approaches, the Starlight Playhouse will soon come alive. There are images of the Rec Hall lights dimming while a hush rolls over the roar of the crowd running through my mind.  I hear Jeff Moss announcing “Ladies and gentleman and children of all ages, the Starlight Playhouse proudly presents…” At that moment, electricity ignites the lights, speakers, and microphones and the red velvet curtains open, displaying the talented and dedicated actors and performers that deliver once in a lifetime performances that the socks off the delighted audience.

As we wait to find out what the 2011 show production line-up has in store for us, we are excited to announce the return of the Starlight Playhouse staff. The one and only, master of ceremonies, Jeffery B. Moss will be returning for his 44th summer at Camp Starlight as Theater Director. Denes Van Parys, better known as DVP, will be tickling the ivories and striking up the band all summer as Musical Director. Behind the scenes, you will find Lindsay Jennings meticulously creating new and exciting costumes, while Stephanie Rubenfeld works hard as Jeff’s right hand woman, helping the campers learn their lines while encouraging them from start to finish. We are very thrilled to introduce the new Technical Director, Christopher Goslin. He is a Technical Director and Adjunct Professor at Miami Dade College with an abundance of knowledge and experience that he looks forward to sharing with us this summer.