Posts Tagged ‘summer camp benefits’

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.

How Campers and Staff Become Leaders at Camp Starlight

Monday, January 2nd, 2017


“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others” – John Quincy Adams


From the moment you wake up at camp until the moment you fall asleep, you have countless opportunities to inspire, encourage, support, love and empower those around you. There will be many times throughout the day when you see someone struggling, whether it is with homesickness, trying over and over again to get up on their skis, or finding the courage to try the ropes course. At any given moment, you have the chance to be a leader by serving others. They may need some advice, an extra hand or just someone to listen. When you go out of your way to help others, that is a characteristic of a leader.


You don’t have to be a camp counselor to be a leader. You can lead by following directions, being honest, showing good sportsmanship, acting with dignity and being kind to others. You never know who is watching and there is usually a good chance that a younger or newer camper is watching you to see how you deal with certain situations. Whether you make the right choices are not, people are watching and will do what you do. It is important to do the right thing, even if nobody is watching. This is another true characteristic of a leader.


Although everyone has the opportunity to become a leader every day, some will be trusted with a valuable role to lead others. As a big brother or a big sister, you can help younger and less experienced campers get a feel for what camp is like. It is a very big responsibility to be a mentor to someone else, and campers take it very seriously.   Campers have the responsibility of being a big sister or big brother and lead by serving. They take the younger campers needs and wants into consideration and help make their adjustment to camp easy.  They know that being a leader is not about them, it’s about how they can build up and encourage those that are following them.


Camp counselors get a unique opportunity to learn how to lead at camp.  Not only are they responsible for day to day activities, organizing events, and making sure everyone is safe, they are also role models. The way they talk and think and act is being watched by hundreds of little eyes every day. They lead by example, showing kindness and patience to everyone around them.  They empower others by encouraging them to do things they are afraid to do, standing by them when they fall down and offering a hand to help them back up.  Many camper say they look up to their camp counselors, and strive to be a counselor themselves one day.


When campers return to their normal life, they put the leadership skills they learned at camp to use.  They have an easier time standing up to peer pressure, they speak up to bullies, and they follow directions in class and show good sportsmanship on the field.  They are leaders in every aspect of their lives, because of what they learned at camp.


You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. A leader is someone who simply empowers others, serves others, and works as a team player.  At camp, campers will learn the true traits of a leader, and will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

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.

How Camp Starlight Improves Self-Confidence

Monday, December 12th, 2016


There is nothing better than walking into your first day of school with confidence and a positive attitude.  Knowing that you look good, feel good, and have everything you need to make this an awesome school year is a great way to start the year.


As kids get older, there are many things that they see and hear that can affect their self-confidence. Their friends, the media, everywhere they look people are telling them what to look like and how to act and who to hang out with.  Kids who have low self-confidence are more likely to be followers rather than leaders, and can struggle with their grades, their friendships, sports, and an overall feeling of happiness.  Teachers have said many times that they can tell the difference between kids who spend their summer at camp, and those who don’t. Kids who come to school from the summer at camp have something different about them. They are eager, they are self-confident, and they are ready to be the best they can be.


Spending the summer at camp can really improve a camper’s self-confidence. Every day, they are surrounded by people who love, support, and encourage them.  Every day, they are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and do things that make them a little nervous. When they succeed, their self-confidence goes through the roof. When they don’t, people who encourage them to try again surround them, and when they finally succeed, they have learned a valuable lesson.


Kids who are normally shy come home from camp with a ton of new friends. This teaches them that they are worthy of love, friendship, and companionship. This teaches them that they are worth listening to, that they are funny, that they are good listener, and that they make good friends.  They learn that they have something to offer to others around them, that they are good at certain things, and that they are fun to be around. As a middle or high schooler, this is vital in boosting their self-confidence.


When campers try new things, like the ropes course or swimming or putting on a play, they step out of their comfort zone.  They do things that they previously thought they could not do, and learn quickly that they are capable of so much more than they initially thought. This is an amazing feeling, one that they hopefully will bring with them into the following school year, and on to the rest of their life.


Kids who have never tried out for a sport in school, will come home with the self-confidence from summer camp to try out for the school team.  Kids who were extremely afraid of public speaking, will address their class and on the first day of school with confidence. It all happens slowly, and most of the time kids don’t even realize it’s happening. But at camp, they are constantly being exposed to new things, encouraged and supported.  They take the experiences and lessons that they learned at camp and apply it into their every day life back at school.  They feel capable, empowered, and self-confident. With this attitude, they can conquer the school year, and any other obstacle that is in their way.


At camp, there are multiple times a day that kids will learn and hear that they are good, they are smart, they are creative, they are athletic, and so many other positive affirmations.  Camp counselors are great at making sure kids know that they are appreciated and identifying their strengths.   If kids hear enough times that they are good enough, they will eventually begin to believe it.


In a world where kids are constantly comparing themselves to their peers, to celebrities, and to the rest of the world around them, it is easy for their confidence to fall through the cracks. However, spending a summer at camp is a great way to instill self-confidence in each and every camper. And provides them with a great foundation to start the new school year.





Camp: Forever Changing, Yet Exactly the Same

Monday, October 24th, 2016


Camp is one of those things that meets campers exactly where they are. It has this unique way of providing campers with exactly what they need, sometimes before the campers even know they need it. Camp has a way of being the perfect combination of excitement and relaxation and has been that way for over 70 years.


In 70 years, a lot has changed at Camp Starlight, but a lot has stayed the same. Over time, camp has transformed to meet the needs of the campers who come each year. The lake has always been central to the camping experience; even before jet boats were invented. The style of bathing suits may have changed, but the memories created in the lakes stay the same. The cabins may have been without porches then, but the stories and late night conversations inside of them were as special then as they are now. The camp has seen many upgrades throughout the years, but the feeling that camp gives campers throughout the summer never changes.


If campers from last summer were to sit down with campers from 50 years ago, they would have a lot in common. They would be able to trade stories about competing in Olympics, and they would be able to bust out the lyrics to some of the camp’s most popular songs, songs that haven’t changed since day one. They would be able to reminisce about the delicious camp lunches, the campfires, and all of the different sports and activities that filled up their days at camp. Even though a lot of time has passed, campers from 50 years ago would recognize camp as a place where they felt cared about, understood and accepted. Campers from last summer would be able to talk about new facilities, updated cabins and high-tech classes and workshops, but would be familiar with the overall feeling of acceptance and encouragement that is the foundation of Camp Starlight.


Camp must change in order to meet the needs of the incoming generations of campers. It must have a sense of flexibility and growth to cater to new campers while holding on to its foundational values and traditions that have made it the camp it is today.  Camp is constantly changing and improving, but as always, is committed to being a place of friendships, fun, and life-long learning.

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”

The Benefits of Counselor Assistant Programs

Friday, July 6th, 2012

A recent article in the New York Times examined a father’s struggle with his daughter’s choice to fore go a summer internship to spend the summer working at her former summer camp.  Upon first hearing of his daughter’s choice, the father was concerned that the camp counselor experience would not ultimately prove substantial on a resume.  However, upon further consideration, he concluded that the internship experience was overrated. Based on statistical data, those who have intern experience do not secure jobs any faster than those who do not, and  the well-rounded experience his daughter would gain while working at camp added to the benefit of being able to delay the start of an “office job.”

Even before entering college, former campers who’ve become too old to attend camp decide to enter their camp’s.  As the college student who was the subject of the her father’s New York Times debate, many parents of former campers find themselves wondering about the benefits of counselor assistant programs versus a year off from camp, teen tours, or a more traditional summer job.  In addition to providing a very good transition from the role of camper to staff member, counselor in training programs are a great foundation for college.

College is a clean slate for students.  When students leave high school, they also leave behind their reputations and accomplishments.  Like college is a place at which students have the opportunity to demonstrate that they attained the skills to succeed in college through high school, counselor assistants have the opportunity to demonstrate that years of being a camper have given them the skills required to be a good staff member.  As part campers, part staff members, they have opportunity to take initiative and show responsibility by performing some of the duties of a camp counselor.  In doing so, they also gain entry level work experience.  They are accountable for performing up to the standards set by their camp leadership, they report to multiple supervisors at various levels, and by nature of working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with children, they must perform jobs responsibilities with immediacy.

A counselor assistant program is also a great way to help teenagers choose a college.  Since counselor assistant or counselor in training groups tend to be smaller than other camp age groups, the smaller setting can help students decide whether they prefer a larger college with more students, like those of their younger camping days, or a smaller, more intimate setting like that of their counselor in training or counselor assistant group.  Living at camp is also time away from home that helps those thinking of college determine whether living away from home in a dorm setting or living at home while attending a local college is more to their preference.

Ultimately, regardless of whether a former camper decides to do a traditional internship once he or she gets to college, a year or two spent as a counselor in training or a counselor assistant could help build some of the most helpful tools for making some very important, life impacting decisions regarding college and work.