Posts Tagged ‘summer camp memories’

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.

Finding a Voice

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.02.36 AMAlthough most campers leave camp an excited, talkative and outgoing ball of energy, not all of them come to camp that way. Camp has a magical way of taking a quiet and introverted child and encouraging them to find their voice and speak up for themselves. Children who came to camp as followers can emerge as outspoken leaders. Every camper is different and comes with their own unique personality, but each camper will spend the summer learning to communicate with other adults and their peers, a vital skill that children need to learn as they navigate through their formative years.

Campers are always encouraged to work through their issues and problems in a healthy and productive manner, and learn various conflict management techniques. They are taught how to speak up for themselves and make sure their opinions and ideas are heard. They learn how to feel confident asking for help, and learn to be their own advocate.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 10.54.30 AMLearning to find their voice is one of the best things a young person can do for their confidence and self esteem. Learning to say no without feeling guilty and feeling confident about contributing to a conversation are valuable life skills.  Learning these skills could mean the difference between a student caving into peer pressure and one who can speak their mind. In a world where kids face challenges every single day regarding whether they will be a leader or a follower, a student who spent the summer at Camp Starlight will have the experience necessary to speak up for what is right, even if they’re the only one speaking.
Campers who learn to speak up for themselves also learn to speak up for others. In a society where bullying is so prominent, the world needs more young people who are able to say what they think, stand up for what is right, and know how to do so in a way that is healthy and productive. A camper who spent the summer finding their voice may use it to help another friend, student or sibling who hasn’t found theirs yet.

Instilling confidence in the youth of country is something that will change the world, and when campers truly find their voice and learn how to express their ideas in a constructive way, they feel confident enough to truly make a difference.

2013: Record-Breaking Summer

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

It’s almost 2014, but 2013 was record-breaking year of fun, excitement, and all things Starlight! Looking back at this past year, it’shard to capture all of the great moments that 2013 brought to us. Whether it was the moment stepping of the bus back in June or looking back on the final day of camp in August; the memories still flood our heads even as we are about to put a close to 2013.

Reflecting on the great times we had this year, it’s hard to not forget about the great new things we had at camp in 2013. The completely renovated Fieldhouse was an awesome addition to camp where many Wayne County victories, hard fought Olympic basketball games, and many fun activities were held. Within the new Fieldhouse, our new gym and workout facility was an absolute hit for campers and staff. Fieldhouse is one of the most recognized buildings at camp where memories are made and it is sure to make many more in the future.

Along with new additions to camp, we can’t forget about all of the highlights and moments that made 2013 great. The opening night campfires are always a great tradition to start off the summer. We also can’t forget the classic moments of singing in the dining room, screaming “Good Morning” to David EVERY morning, watching Jason Glick dance on Friday nights, and cheering during the Week in Review.

2013 was special for many reasons, not only did our sports have a record breaking summer with the most Wayne County victories recorded to date, but we also had incredible recollection of things like the hilarious Friday Night Live, Heath “Tell Mia Story’s” great performance at Miss Starlight, the Gnome Scavenger Hunt, and who could forget the, the closest Olympics in Starlight History!

All in all, each and every camper and staff member have their monumental moments that stick in their heads to what 2013 was all about. While everyone can think about the personal memories they had, it is inevitable that 2014 is bound to be even better!

Falling Back into Routine

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

There is something about returning to camp every summer.  It starts on the drive, during which you mark the distance with landmarks rather than mile markers.  There are the small markets, the diners, the signs for points of interest that tell you that you’re that much closer to being “there.” The second you see Alice’s Cow Palace, you glance to the side, looking for the sign for Starlight Lake Road.  You turn and begin winding up the hill, anticipating that sharp turn and wondering if this road was this long last summer.  It had to be, of course, but it’s these little details that you forget over the winter and which come back to you every summer almost the instant you spot the Camp Starlight sign.

As you drive up the camp road, it’s hard to look in any direction other than left, as you anticipate that first glimpse of Alumni Field.  You wonder what has changed as you round the bend and see the “Welcome” sign at the foot of the staff parking lot.  Inevitably something has changed, you tell yourself, for the better no doubt.  This place just keeps getting better and better!  Then you see the rink, the basketball courts, and the tennis courts.  You catch a sparkle of water off the lake from just beyond boys camp through your peripheral vision and you realize that, whatever has changed, some things always stay the same—and that’s what you love so much about Camp Starlight.  There is something about arriving on the Starlight campus for the first time, whether it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it or just the first time for the current summer, that transports you to another place.  It truly is a unique and magical world that exists only within itself.

You unpack for another summer and settle back into the camp routine and wonder what fun surprises await you over the next couple of months.  What new friends will you meet this year?  What memories will you take away with you?  You begin forming your bucket list for the summer, the accomplishments you want to remember years from now when you recall your summer of 2013 at Camp Starlight.    You take yourself on a tour of campus, checking out the old and the new, and realize that ten months feels like ten minutes.  It’s as if you haven’t really been gone at all.

Remembering Opening Day Arrivals

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

One of the coolest camp feelings, whether one is a staff member or a camper, is watching the buses roll up to the Clinic Field on Opening Day and seeing all of our camp friends, many of them for the first time since saying goodbye the previous year.  Campers come to summer camp from all over the world, so seeing each other regularly or even between summers can be challenging.  The anticipation for the staff every year when we hear that the buses have left their pickup points and the campers are on their way is intense.  Ten months of planning are finally about to come together!  We’re so excited we can hardly eat our breakfast…As enthusiastic as those waiting at camp are, we’re perfectly aware that the anticipation on the buses is even higher among campers counting the minutes until they drive up the camp road for the first time of the new summer, past Alumni Field, the Boys basketball courts, tennis courts, around the Dining Hall past the Starlight Playhouse, and just catch a glimpse of the Carriage House before the bus stops, and everyone steps off the buses and into the arms of their camp friends before meeting their counselors.  It’s always an incredibly special day, and recapturing that feeling is always fun.  So this week, we’re dipping into our Camp Starlight vault to remember…Opening Day 2012.  Yes!  The day the buses pulled up and the summer began.  It’s hard to believe that it was already almost five months ago! It’s crazy how time flies over the summer.  We can’t wait for Opening Day 2013!

Learning the Value of Tradition at Camp

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The holidays are around the corner.  During that time of year, the word “tradition” gets thrown around a lot.  But how many people actually understand what tradition is really?  Perhaps it’s the emphasis on forward thinking and constantly in-motion global community that has caused many to confuse “tradition” with “routine.”  They’ve both become something that we do on a regular basis in order to establish or maintain a consistency or pattern in our behavior.  So what really distinguishes “tradition” from “routine”?

First, routine is something that one person does but might not necessarily have in common with others.  Most people brush their teeth at some point in time in the morning.  Few people do it at exactly the same time.  Some shower first.  Others eat breakfast.  Eventually, everyone brushes their teeth but the experience is, for all intents and purposes, individual.  There is no shared significance.

Tradition, on the other hand, is by definition community oriented.  It’s a shared custom, belief, or activity with a common understanding of the reason for its practice.  Many of us eat turkey at Thanksgiving because we symbolically associate it with that first meal between the pilgrims and native Americans.  It’s a tradition.

Second, routine, unlike tradition, is not necessarily multi-generational or even long-term.  It’s something done for a specified length of time.  While we maintain some routines for all or much of our lives, others are short term.  If one gets the flu, for instance, one might temporarily take up a routine of antibiotics.  But once the flu subsides, so does that routine.

On the other hand, tradition is something that is a common bond between multiple generations.  It’s an acknowledgment that an event or action was significant to someone tied to our past, and the observance of traditions our way of paying tribute to that event or action as well demonstrating our understanding of it.

Finally, routine is task oriented.  We take up routine in order to accomplish a goal.  There is an intended result in routine.  Tradition, however, is an observance.  Routine is a way of moving forward, whereas tradition pays tribute to the importance of the past.

By now, you’re surely asking yourself what any of this has to do with summer camp. Simply this: in a culture that places a significant amount of importance on the establishment of routine, the value of tradition is increasingly less understood and appreciated.  Summer camps, however, are grounded in tradition.  They’re  a place where campers and staff members alike get refresher courses in the power of tradition.  Whether it’s at a campfire, a sing along, or an activity specific to the camp, there are literally hundreds of opportunities every summer for those at a summer camp to bond through tradition.  Many former summer campers and staff members actually name “tradition” as one of their highlights of summer camp.  So if tradition has become an element of holidays past, consider giving your children a future opportunity to enjoy tradition at summer camp in 2013.

A Starlight Halloween!

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Can you believe it is already October!? We bet, just like us at the winter office, you are still thinking about camp! Well, we have been stirring up some tricky ideas on how to make this Halloween a Starlight Spooktacular Event!

How about draping your camp sheets over your homemade haunted house to give it a Starlight style? Or hanging them up with a soccer ball head to be funky ghosts? Bring the carriage house to your Halloween party by having friends and family tie dye t-shirts in orange and black! Have your snack be a fruit call of….caramel apples! Are you missing S-day cookouts? Well, how about carving a watermelon instead of a pumpkin? When someone asks you, “Trick or Treat?” wow them with a trick you learned this summer at Super Sixth Magic! You could even bring the spirit of Camp Starlight into your costume!

Deck out in your Starlight best, topping it with a Starlight visor, and clapping your hands together with a tambourine as Jason Glick! Or even better go as one of the Three Short Neck Buzzards! Take your trick or treating on the road by turning a box into a moon buggy and go as Alyson Lee giving a tour. Stand tall and carry a flag and tell everyone to “Have a great day!” Be victorious this Halloween by suiting up as the next SWF champion! Or even dress as your favorite counselor, maybe they were on the waterfront, ropes, or cooking?

No matter what, we know if you do this, you are sure to have a very Spooktacular Starlight Halloween!

A Part of Summer Camp Past, Present, and Future

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Have you ever passed a kid biking down the street and wondered if he, like you, is thinking of camp fires and canteen? Do you wonder if that elderly gentleman you passed in the supermarket, inexplicably humming a tune that we sing in the Dining Hall or Starlight Playhouse every summer, is lost in thoughts of a boyhood spent boating with his bunkmates? Maybe it is because of an overactive imagination or just a bad case of campsickness, but I find myself thinking–or hoping–they could be!

In fact, it’s hard not to miss summer when your primary responsibility is to, as David instructs every camper and staff member at lineup each morning, ‘Have a great day!’ and going to “work” means playing in the lake, learning how to waterski, cooking a tasty snack, maneuvering a ropes course, building a rocket, writing a blog, or making a really cool craft project?   As I find myself daydreaming of Fruit Call, 3 Short Neck Buzzards, and, of course, sunsets on the lake, I wonder if others are so lucky as to have found a place to which they long to return as much as I long to return to Camp Starlight.  Is there a whole world of people out there, young and old, reminiscing about summers past?

Sometimes I find myself thinking that the Starlight experience is so dear that there is no way anyone could possibly feel the same way about their own camp. Then I realize that, for generations, summer camp has been a magical place for campers and staff alike.  My experiences are only the tiniest piece of a massive web of memories treasured by campers and counselors of summers past, present, and future. Oddly, such a realization intensifies my recollections of Camp Starlight, making them even more precious!

Summers at Camp Starlight make me a—all of us–a part of something really big, really special, and timeless. I have a permanent bond not only to the campers and staff I met at Starlight but to anyone who has ever or will ever call Starlight home! I’m also linked to millions of people past, present, and future who have, do, or will attend summer camp. It gives me an identity, a bond, and a connection to this wonderful thing, known as summer camp, I have come to love so much.


How Do You Spell Camp Starlight?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Over the years, a summer at Camp Starlight has come to mean so much to so many people around the world. To pump up those of us returning to camp this summer and to give our first-time Starlighters a little lesson in what excitement and memories are in store for them, we decided to spell out just a glimpse of what is to come when the Starlight family reunites for the 66th season in the place that we love!

C-Campfires kick off the summer’s excitement when we get our camp siblings. And of course, they mean we are in for a tasty treat, S’MORES!

A-Amazing evening activities make sure the fun does not end after Super 6th, and every year they get more and more outrageously fun!

M-Matzo ball soup is a perfect companion to our Friday night dinners! Not to mention, when we see it we know what’s coming next…L-O-P-E, that’s how we spell deeeeelicious!

P-Pizza parties at the end of summer keep us working hard for all 10’s on inspection. How many Honor Bunk plaques will you earn this summer?

S-Sunsets on the lake remind us daily to take a second and admire the beauty that surrounds us.

T-The Week in Review is a guaranteed laugh and a great way to remember all the fun we had in the last week.

A-Allison Miller is looking forward to a special night with our new Junior Girls. She can’t wait to get to know more about each of you and to enjoy doing Build-a-Bear to help remind you of your first summer at Starlight for years to come!

R-Ropes Course is a favorite program area for Starlighters. Who’s excited for their first chance at the Star Jump in 2012?

L- Listening to the Key Note Speaker on Friday nights is always so special, because we get to hear the effects of Starlight on the leaders of our community.

I- “I Can’t Smile Without You” is a sure way to get Starlighters smiling when they think about Jeff Moss leading us all in Sing Alongs during the summer! Make sure you’re warming up your voice! We suggest trying it in the rain!

G-Girls side never ceases to impress with the outstanding performances at Spirit of Starlight! Who will take home the win this year?!

H-Hockey games with David are a favorite tradition on Boy’s side. Is it just me, or are you hearing the echoes of whistles and cheers from the Arena just thinking about it too?

T-Today’s countdown is at 84 days until we are all reunited in the 18461!!! Come on June 24!


The Fun Doesn’t Stop after 5PM!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

It’s January.  The kids just returned to school after their winter break, from which you’re still exhausted.  You’re already thinking about summer.  Entertaining them for two weeks was hard enough, let alone two months!  Maybe it’s time to start thinking about summer camp.  Yes, it’s January.  Yes, this is the time of the year when most of us start monitoring the morning radio and news reports for school closings and delays.  But summer is closer than you might think and now is the ideal time to start choosing a camp.

Summer camps come in many sizes and lengths from around one hundred campers all the way up to several hundred and sessions that last a from a few weeks up to seven.  There is truly a summer camp for every preference and budget.  No matter what type of summer camp you prefer, they all have one thing in common:  the fun doesn’t stop after 5pm!

Summer camp doesn’t just occupy your children during those summer hours when they’d otherwise be at school.  It’s a place that entertains them well into the evening hours as well.  In fact some of the best times at camp happen after dinner.  Sure there is plenty for campers to do during the day; play sports, pursue a hobby, swim, boat, play games, make new friends.  But the evening is when some of the deepest bonding moments of the summer take place.  After dinner at summer camp, children don’t retire to the living room sofa to watch television or flip on the Wii.  There are no cell phones in which to engage themselves for hours playing Angry Birds.  At camp, campers may find themselves taking part in a sing along, acting in a camp show, playing crazy games, or watching a magician or hypnotist.  It could be drum circle night or there may even be a campfire with s’mores in store.  Maybe it’s a swim or a dance party…or both!  It could be a sleepover or a night making special treats or craft projects.  Maybe it’s just a night to chill with the bunk or cabin  No matter what the activity, it’s fun and two words that are NEVER heard at camp: “I’m bored!”

Much of the support for summer camp revolves around the skills children develop during daytime programming activities.  The value in summer camp evening activities is often underrated.  However, a great deal of planning intended to extend camp spirit and tradition into evenings.  Camps employ entire teams of people whose sole responsibility is to plan and execute evening activities and special events that enhance the overall camp experience.  While having fun at their evening activities, campers also continue to learn how to shine as an individual, to be part of a team, and to develop their creativity in ways that benefit them as well as others.  At the same time, some of the most prevalent and pervading summer camp memories are made at evening activities.

An investment in summer camp is not just an investment in keeping children occupied during their summer days.  It’s a 24/7 investment that also includes evening entertainment that further develops the skills that are honed during the daytime.  So now and during their next break from school, when your children proclaim, “We’re bored,” think about summer camp.