“We want our kids to leave here at the end of the summer never questioning what will happen next year – they know they will come back to Starlight,” says David Miller, the Pennsylvania camp’s director. “There is something special and magical about the Starlight world,” says Miller.
Camp Starlight is a full-season (7-week) camp located in Starlight, PA (about two-and-a-half hours from New York City) which has been in continuous operation since 1947. David and his wife Allison bought the camp from the original owners in 1999, but some things just don’t change. Just driving into the facility up a secluded one mile road to the top of a mountain gives campers a sense of separation from the real world. Starlight is revealed at the peak of the overlook. The 70-acre lake is private to the camp, which enhances Miller’s goal of wanting everyone to feel safe and secure in the Starlight world. “This is their summer home,” he says. “When campers walk into the dining hall there are hundreds of plaques – one from every bunk from every summer since 1947. Campers know that there is a long tradition of fun and family here.”
One thing that makes Camp Starlight unique is how it straddles the line between a co-ed camp and a same-sex camp. There are separate facilities and staff for boys and girls, and they participate in separate sports and activities during the day. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Miller says. Those families that are looking for a single sex camp experience get the separation and camaraderie they are looking for, but the boys and girls all come together for morning ceremonies, dinner and many of the evening activities. The Starlight set-up works especially well for families with sons and daughters who want to attend camp together and are looking for high-quality activities. Miller adds, “my favorite time of day is the flag raising ceremony in the morning. Girls line up on one side and boys line up on the other, but brothers and sisters always have time to check in with each other and see how their day was. I love seeing the kids reconnect with each other.”
It is the connection between campers that is paramount at Starlight. When new kids arrive at camp, they are assigned to bunk with kids their age, but with different interests. “That’s what bunk bonding is all about,” Miller says, “learning about and loving people who aren’t carbon copies of yourself.” Some bunks stay together their entire eight years of summer camp, forming a real family of brothers or sisters. These children because they are given the opportunity of overnight camp usually adjust better to college and dorm life because they are used to living with others and being away from home.
Camp Starlight also works well for families with same sex siblings with different interests because the program is so well-rounded. Whether a child loves athletics, art, theater, adventure or water sports, or just loves to do it all, the quality of the Starlight program and facility make this a first-rate experience no matter what activities a child is drawn to. Camp Starlight also helps expand the horizons of campers by exposing them to all the different activities the camp has to offer. Campers have two choices in their daily program so they also have the time to develop their talents in their specific interest areas; especially as they get older. The two oldest bunks get to set their own daily schedules, for example.
Miller knows that some families have reservations about sending their children to a full-season, seven-week camp, especially when campers can start as young as third or fourth grade, but the benefits are tremendous. Rather than kids moving from camp to camp, week to week, there is truly time for kids to unwind, escape from the outside world and all its pressures and disconnect from technology. This type of summer program provides a real opportunity for kids to be themselves, get to know each other and make friendships that truly last a lifetime. There is no question that this is why such an extraordinarily high rate of campers return summer after summer. The summer is also long enough to do full season camp and still have family time to visit relatives or have a family vacation before school starts.
So if you’re thinking about full-season camp, you can learn more about Camp Starlight at www.campstarlight.com. As David says, “Most families who come to visit our camp end up enrolling their children,” Miller says. “There is something magical about this place.”
Come meet David and visit the Starlight world first-hand!