Camp North Star Blog
This week, Steven and Brooke, along with other members of our Leadership Team will be heading to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the 2018 American Camp Association Tri-State Camp Conference. The conference is the largest gathering of camp professionals in the world! Over 3,000 attendees will come together to learn at over 200 educational sessions, find new products and services at the 300 booth exhibit hall, and best of all, spend time with like-minded people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children.
Speakers lead the educational sessions with topics including staff training, creating new special events, using social media, managing risks and emergencies, and healthcare. Some sessions are led by fellow camp professionals while others are experts in psychology, social work, marketing, education, law, and medicine. One of the biggest takeaways is sharing and discussing best practices of operating a summer camp with camp directors from around the Unites States to keep making camp safer, more fun and more rewarding for campers and counselors alike.
The exhibit hall is filled with vendors whose merchandise include art supplies, food service, athletic equipment, waterfront products, wearable apparel, outside entertainment, popular trip destinations and more. This is the same venue where in the last few years we purchased our Rock-It and Jungle Jim for the waterfront and new GaGa courts.
One of the highlights of the conference are the two keynote speakers. Dr. Shefali Tsabary is giving the opening keynote on Tuesday. She will outline how camp directors and parents can raise resilience levels within children and help them achieve their most authentic selves. Oprah Winfrey has hailed Dr. Shefali’s work as revolutionary. Thursday’s closing keynote is by Billie Jean King. In addition to being the winner of 39 Grand Slam tennis titles, King has long been a champion for social justice and equality. She will be discussing the unique opportunity in the workplace for generations past, present and future to work together in an inclusive environment.
Camp North Star campers, staff and alumni don’t need to be “under the pines” in Poland, Maine, to feel our camp spirit. It’s certainly not the same feeling however, as when we are together as a camp family during the summer. Over the course of the school year, we enjoy looking at photos of campers and staff seeing each other and reconnecting. And just like that it’s as if you are back at camp with your camp friends. While everyone is back home, there are always signs that tell us all that you or your friends are from Camp North Star. You know you are from Camp North Star when…
1. All the clothes in your closet are dominated by the color of your Eco Team – green, white, blue, or red.
3. Everything you own has your name written or ironed in it. You still find socks with your cabin mates initials embroidered onto it.
4. Throughout the year you are constantly rewriting songs in your head to make them appropriate for camp Sing Out.
5. You hear the number seven and you can’t control your hands banging on the nearest table.
7. You know all the words to “Wagon Wheel”. When you hear it you will belt out the chorus without missing a beat because it takes you back to all those times you were together with your North Star family around the campfire.
8. The disappointment you feel when keep a spotless room all week, and your family doesn’t give you a golden dustpan award.
9. Your alarm ringtone is a bell ringing. You can’t start the day without the sounds of a loud bell because you know that if you wake up to anything else it’s a betrayal to your summer camp self.
10. Your favorite place in the whole world is located under the pines on 200 acres in Poland, Maine.
What’s the common bond that Denzel Washington, Michael Eisner, Michelle Obama and Carly Simon share? They are all former summer camp counselors. Spending a summer at camp won’t transform a staff member into a celebrity, but it will give them valuable experience and teach them skills that will help them succeed in life.
This summer over one million college students and recent graduates will pack their bags and head to camp for work. Camp North Star’s team of directors, counselors, coaches, instructors and support staff will work together to provide our campers with a safe, supervised, rewarding and memorable summer. It’s also a fulfilling experience for our staff.
A summer camp job offers invaluable skill-building, leadership, training and enrichment opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else. The experience allows staff to learn and develop skills that will enhance their job marketability. The corporate world recognizes that the experience as a camp counselor translates into excellent management and personnel skills.
If a staff member’s career goal is working with youth in some capacity, then camp is the ideal place to gain experience with children. Counselors are able to learn how their campers react to new environments, handle homesickness, gain a sense of independence and learn how to form friendships with other campers that were strangers before the summer began.
There’s a misconception that spending a summer working at camp will only benefit you if you’re headed towards a career as a teacher or similar youth development job. That’s simply not true. Being a summer camp counselor and working directly with children teaches staff numerous skills that will benefit them in any future profession.
Leadership – There are endless opportunities to become a leader. Instantly a group of campers look up to their counselors and seek guidance and wisdom from them.
Problem Solving – Plans can change at a moment’s notice at camp. A rainy day can turn an outdoor activity into an impromptu indoor game.
Teamwork – At Camp North Star our staff is a diverse and talented group of counselors from across the United State and around the world. Counselors learn how to communicate, compromise and lend a helping hand to their co-workers.
Work Ethic – Working at camp may be one of the toughest jobs around. Long hours, hot days, challenging campers, all while keeping a genuine smile on your face.
Time Management – Counselors at Camp North Star are supervising campers from wake-up at 7:15 AM till bed time. Be on time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s a six-period activity day. Don’t be late for camp meeting. At the end of the day, staff are able to convince campers when it’s time for lights out so they have enough sleep to do it all over again tomorrow.
A job at a summer camp is much more than being a counselor. It’s being a teacher, role model and hero. Spending two months at Camp North Star can be the most rewarding experience in a staff member’s life. It’s a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of so many people—campers, fellow staff and themselves.
1. Get Away From It All: Camp North Star sits on 200 picturesque acres with a 55-acre private lake in Central Maine. You won’t find a more ideal location for a sleep away camp. In our beautiful setting, children experience nature, unplug from electronics and make real friends away from social media.
2. Flexible Scheduling: Families can choose from 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 week options. In every session, campers enjoy all the benefits of a complete summer camp experience, including trips, camp-wide games and traditions, and special events.
3. Elective Program: Each week campers select their schedule with choices in Arts, Athletics, Enrichment, Outdoors and Waterfront. Campers love creating their own schedule from more than 100 exciting activities—our elective program features fabulous facilities and highly trained staff to help children achieve at their own pace. We also offer opportunities for academic enrichment and ESL at camp.
4. Core Values: At the foundation of our camp community is the RICHS. North Star’s value system teaches campers about Respect, Independence, Caring, Honor and Spirit. Campers are excited to practice the RICHS every day, and alumni tell us that receiving recognition for the RICHS was among the highlights of their Camp North Star experience.
5. 21st Century Life Skills: We actively teach and promote the essential life skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Campers discover and develop the best version of themselves when they learn to practice 21st century life skills—and research shows that collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity help children succeed in school and workplaces.
6. Friends: One of our most important goals is to teach our campers how to form and maintain long-lasting friendships. We are proud of our geographically diverse population of campers. Last summer, our campers were from 21 U.S. states and 14 foreign countries.
7. Family: Our campers and staff consider Camp North Star their summer home and extended family.
8. Camp Leadership: Camp North Star is family owned and operated by Steven and Brooke, who have made a lifelong career of youth development and summer camp. Their three children, Makayla, Heath, and Noah, enjoy being North Star campers. Steven proudly serves as Regional Vice-President of the American Camp Association (ACA), which has worked to promote safe summer camping and healthy youth development for more than 100 years. Camp North Star has passed over 300 quality standards to earn the ACA’s prestigious Seal of Accreditation, which exceeds federal and state guidelines for every aspect of summer camp operations.
9. Camp Staff: North Star’s directors, counselors, specialists and support staff are all handpicked because of their experience and commitment to being a positive role model to our campers. Many of our staff are former campers and have progressed though our Leadership Training and Counselor-in-Training programs.
10. Healthy Meals: Chef Steve ensures that our meals are delicious, nutritious and kid-friendly. We have a dedicated chef who prepares meals for all campers and staff with any food allergies or intolerances. You won’t find high fructose drinks, soda, candy or junk food on our menu. Instead we offer fresh fruit, an extensive salad bar with lean proteins, and entrees that are baked or grilled, not fried.
This week Camp North Star celebrated the 4th of July in style. We spent two days participating in some of our favorite patriotic traditions. The festivities started a day early on Monday evening. Campers and staff boarded busses for the short drive to beautiful Poland Spring Resort to watch some breathtaking fireworks. Every summer Camp North Star is lucky enough to be the only camp invited to this display, and this year didn’t disappoint. We spent the evening playing traditional backyard games like Kan Jam, cornhole, frisbee, and ladder ball until it was finally dark enough to watch the spectacular show light up the sky.
4th of July breakfast was a sea of red, white and blue. Campers and staff wore red, white and blue for Patriotic Dress Up Day. Chef Steve’s breakfast menu was Belgian waffles with strawberry and blueberry toppings along with whipped cream. Dinner was a traditional American style barbecue cook-out. Chef Steve treated us to some delicious burgers and hotdogs with all the fixin’s and red, white and blue popsicles for evening snack.
Traditions and rituals are an essential part of our camp community and everyone enjoyed celebrating one of our favorite days of the summer.
And just like that we are starting our second week of camp. The first week flew by. We have already finished a full week of classes, five days of exciting evening programs, one thrilling rafting trip, and had an absolute blast at our first theme day of the summer, WaterWorld.
Saturday was the first trip of the summer as we travelled to Northern Maine to the Moosehead Lake Region. Campers had the choice of choosing a tranquil canoe trip and hike to Moxie Falls, while others opted for whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River. Both trips were filled with adventure and exhilaration and judging by the tired smiles on the bus ride home, everyone had a fun-filled day.
Last night, we had one of the most special nights at camp, and that is our Opening Campfire, a favorite here at North Star. It provides an encouraging space for anyone who likes to perform. We were blown away by the number campers who sang, performed a skit or showed off a unique talent. It was truly amazing to see so much confidence and engagement, especially from our new campers. The support and encouragement from everyone was remarkable to watch and is something we are most proud of here at North Star. The campfire wasn’t complete until we capped it off with roasting marshmallows and making s’mores for evening snack.
Week 1 classes were highlighted by the introduction of some very exciting new classes. Campers learned to explore the outdoors in Primitive Skills, produced our own CNSTV newscast, and created beautiful works of art in Ceramics and Fabric Arts. The week ahead brings more new and exciting options for our campers including Campfire Cooking, Magic and Acapella singing. All classes focus on teaching our campers 21st Century Life Skills – communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.
The camp musical is one of the few classes that extends more than one week. Campers continue to rehearse for the performance of “Matlida” on Thursday, July 20th. Our cast have been singing, dancing and acting their hearts out over the past week and we can already tell it’s going to be an amazing show!
We are on a high after this incredible first week at camp and we cannot wait to do it all over again for Week Two! Be sure to stay connected to North Star on social media so you are up to date on all the exciting activities happening throughout the week ahead.
There was magic in the air yesterday at Camp North Star, after 10 months of waiting we have a full camp once again. There’s almost nothing as exciting as seeing the smiles and hugs when North Star friends reunite. And, we were happy to welcome our new campers into the North Star family. Campers traveled from near and far to spend their summer with us with some campers traveling almost half way around the world from Thailand and Shanghai.
Campers were greeted at the their cabins by their counselors who helped them unpack and introduced them to their cabinmates. It was a beautiful day under the pines so we wasted no time taking a dip in the lake to cool off and to take our swim tests. New campers learned camp traditions from singing camp songs to making friendship bracelets, but the real fun came after dinner. All our campers settled into camp with an evening of team building games and icebreakers with their cabins, each game led by our head counseors. We finished the evening off with a special treat, “Sundaes on Sunday”, our favorite new tradition here at CNS.
Campers jumped right into their classes this morning including getting up on water skis, climbing the dangling duo at ropes course, making a clay creation at pottery, taking a fitness class and musical auditions for “Matlida”. It is fantastic to see the excitement from campers and counsellors alike, as they hurry from one class to the next with new friendships forming along the way.
Tonight, campers are looking forward to competing in The Amazing Race. Each cabin will “travel” to 11 different countries where they will face different challenges along the way.
If yesterday and today is any indication of how this summer is going to go, we are in for a real treat!
For many kids, heading off to camp for the summer is a real rite of passage. It’s likely their first time away from their parents and home for more than just a sleepover down the street, and the best sleep-away camps provide a taste of independence while still supporting the social and emotional needs of young campers.
To that end, one of the major goals of Camp North Star is to help campers learn how to make and keep friends during their time in Maine. For many young people, making friends at camp is easier than at school, and research shows a full 96 percent of campers say that camp helped them to make new friends. Camp North Star is dedicated to teaching this life skill in three major ways.
1. Take Away Technology
Camp North Star is a tech-free summer camp for kids, and for good reason. There’s growing evidence that texting and communicating via devices instead of face-to-face communication is hindering kids’ emotional intelligence and ability to connect with others. Camp North Star offers the rare opportunity to disconnect from TV, video games and smartphones. Instead campers spend time having real-world experiences instead. Without the crutch of a device, kids spend their time reading each other’s faces and developing their interpersonal skills the old-fashioned way — a crucial 21st century life skill.
2. Add a Dash of Nature
Taking away the tech is hardly a punishment, because Camp North Star replaces it with unbeatable scenery and a connection to the natural world. Set in a pristine location on 200 acres, Camp North Star offers a wide range of sports, waterfront and outdoor activities that get kids moving and working together to problem solve and play. Psychologists tout the benefits of time in nature as everything from reduced stress to more creative thinking, and structured activities provide kids a framework for interacting with each other and making new friends.
3. Provide Program Support
At Camp North Star, counselors are trained to guide the development of each individual camper. This includes an attention to helping kids develop communication skills. With attention to social, emotional and physical elements of communication brought to every activity, camp staff guide campers to treat each other with respect and provide the tools to build lasting friendships.
Camp North Star’s mission is to help campers become the best versions of themselves. Making friends is built into the philosophy of everything they do. Come to Camp North Star in Maine to see just how easy it is to make new friends that will last a lifetime.
In our last blog post we shared great advice for our new North Star campers from our veteran campers. The suggestions and guidance were extremely helpful because our returning campers can speak from personal experience about what it’s like to spend a summer under the pines for the first time.
We are very fortunate at Camp North Star to not only have a high percentage of running campers but also to watch many of those campers make the transition from being camper into our Leadership Training Program to our Counselor-in-Training Program and then join our staff. It is a rite of passage that brings great joy to our directors.
These staff members enjoy the perspective of being a former camper who vividly remembers their first summer, as well as the perspective of a North Star staff member who goes through ongoing staff training both before and during the camp season. As staff members, they go through a comprehensive training program to learn best practices to care for and give guidance to our campers. Some of them have spent over 10 summers at Camp North Star. They were happy to share and impart their wisdom from their many years at camp.
“My advice for first time campers is to take classes outside of your comfort zone and to pack some clothes for Wacky Wednesday. And don’t stress about making friends, everyone at camp is super welcoming!” Hannah W.
“The friends I have made at North Star keep me coming back year after year! There is something for everyone at camp, and we have built a community where we want to see each other succeed and try new things.” Cailley L.
“When packing, pack a lot of socks! When you are active all day your socks can get muddy or just dirty in general and you might just want to put a clean pair on. When you think you have enough, pack a few more pairs, you definitely can’t have too many socks! And make sure you have both heavy and light pajamas. The weather is very unpredictable in Maine and some nights it gets very cold and other nights you will be sleeping on top of your sheets because it’s warm out, so make sure you are prepared for it all.” Danielle J.
“Come in confident in your own choices! You are going to get the opportunity to pick your own classes and make your own friends, so come into camp confident that you have the capability to make these amazing choices.” Kate A.
“Making friend can be a little scary at first, but at North Star all the campers and staff are so friendly. I remember walking into my cabin as a first time camper and immediately feeling so welcomed. It’s important just to be yourself and you will make friends in no time!” Natalie J.
“We’re all here to help you make the most of your time at Camp North Star. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before you know it, CNS truly will feel like a second home.” Greg B.
“Camp is the place where you can be your truest self. It’s a totally judgment-free zone where you can put yourself out there by wearing a swimsuit over your clothes on Wacky Wednesday or by singing for the first time in public at the campfire, and everyone will cheer you on. It’s a truly special place, and I can’t wait for you to experience it this summer!” Emily A.
New campers are welcomed by their fellow campers, counselors, directors, and support staff…everyone at North Star who works together as a team and family. We can’t wait to welcome our first time campers as the newest members of our North Star family.
The directors and staff at Camp North Star are excited to welcome all the new campers that will be joining us this summer in Poland Spring, Maine. Our returning campers enjoy playing the role of “ambassador” to properly welcome and make the new campers feel at home and part of our North Star family. We know some new campers feel anxious and nervous as the prepare for their first summer under the pines. They may be wondering…how will I make new friends?…what is the food like?…will I like my counselors?…what are the best activities to choose?
These are all typical questions that many of our new campers have . The North Star Family Handbook and our Camper to Camper program help answer these questions prior to the camp season. Some of the best guidance comes directly from veteran campers. Here’s their advice for first time campers.
“At North Star, everyone is your friend and everyone is so easy to talk to. My first summer I was nervous I wouldn’t make any friends, but the second I walked into my cabin I was greeted with hugs from people I’ve never met and they have become my best friends.” Hailey J.
“Get excited! Having spirit and loving and enjoying every moment is such a huge part of camp and if you don’t lose your voice at least once while you’re there, you’re not doing it right! Being passionate and excited about camp is something I’m not afraid to show, in fact, I embrace it!” Emma O.
“My first year, I remember being very nervous due to my age (16 years old) and I was nervous that everyone would already have a certain “friend group.” I was definitely wrong. Camp North Star made me feel welcomed right when I got there. To have the best time at camp and for you to be prepared I suggest coming into camp with a positive attitude.” Madison M.
“Be yourself. The community here is very accepting, and I promise that 100%. Just be prepared, the summer of your life is right ahead of you. As the saying ’round here goes – Camp is more than a place, it’s a feeling.” Zach B.
“Don’t be afraid to go to your counselors about any problems or questions, because most likely they’ve been through the same situation.” Sarah N.
“Be sure to follow the packing list. The list is very accurate! You do not need to bring anything extra. Trust me, I over packed my first summer and brought all the extras home untouched.” Jade M.
“Don’t forget to pack bug spray and sunscreen because you’ll need both.” Natalia R.
North Star’s Camper to Camper program connects first time campers with returning campers like these prior to the camp season. They talk on the phone, develop a friendship before the summer starts and the first time camper has all their questions answered. In our next blog, we’ll have advice from current North Star staff who are former campers.