Monthly Archives: July 2014
The past couple days have been busy as campers run around and enjoy their classes and free time, making friends and soaking up the sunny Maine weather — aside from the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Last night, though, campers got to experience one of the most fun and creative evening programs at CNS — Mega Shots!
Mega Shots are basically a number of small evening activities run by different counselors that campers choose to sign up for. In the past, they’ve ranged from banana-themed adventures (banana boating followed by eating banana splits) to instructional lessons like How To Be British (taught by our international staff) to more mysterious choices like Super Secret Surprise (that ended in a trip to Dairy Queen for ice cream). Last night’s activities included:
-Car Wash, where campers listened to music and washed cars (which basically just turned into a giant soapy water fight)
-Color War, where campers were separated into teams and tried to splatter as much of their team’s color on another team’s flag (which, again, ended in a massive color fight)
-British pub-style trivia
-A jam session in the Jam Factory
-Pirates v. Navy, a game played in canoes and kayaks where two teams try to “sink” each other’s boats by firing at them with tennis balls
-Banner-making with a twist, where campers created a CNS banner but had a relay race to get the paint to the banner
In the end, campers had an awesome time in all the activities, and we had a great night!
By Noa Billick
As session 1 rolls to a close, campers begin to pack up their big duffel bags and prepare to head home, while others get excited about starting session 2. Seeing that Camp North Star Maine sign at the Verrill Road entrance generates a sense of happiness in our hearts and excitement in our bones. But for those campers who are leaving at this time of the summer, it’s important to learn how to say “See you later.”
Since my first closing campfire in 2010, Sue, the owner and director of camp, has always said the same phrase to us campers as we sit around the campfire ring, listening through tears: “It’s not good-bye, it’s see you later!”
Saying “See you later” is a hard when the rest of the months during the year we are without our camp friends. Sometimes it feels like it’s the last time we see the pine trees of North Star, but most of the time, it isn’t! It is a tough concept to grasp onto, but we do in fact blend back into our daily routines at our own homes quite quickly–quick enough that summer time is back in the blink of an eye.
At the end of each summer at one of the best summer camps for teens, I fall back into my routine and remember how great my home is, how great my friends are, and how lucky I am to be able to go back and forth between a place like North Star and Montreal.
No matter how much I love my beautiful city, there will always be a part of me that belongs among the pine trees and lake of Camp North Star, and there’s a part of you that belongs there, too. We just need to wait those 45ish weeks to be joined with all those magical moments camp brings to us.
After an emotional weekend saying goodbye to so many campers and staff members leaving after session 2, we have reached the home stretch as the third and final session of CNS 2014 begins!
We welcomed session 3 in the midst of some rainy weather that kept up for a couple of days! However, some clouds and drizzle didn’t stop campers and staff from having fun at Bunk Night and Opening Campfire in the rec hall!
Luckily, today the weather has brightened up, and we’re back on regular day schedule. Some of the classes campers have been enjoying this week are windsurfing, waterskiing, stained glass, quidditch, fitness, creative writing, pottery, and rocks & ropes. Tonight’s evening activity is Division Night, so middie and senior/Village campers will be splitting up for different activities. Middies will be playing Venomni Ball (which is basically a giant game of kickball spread out over an acre of land with mixed up rules), while seniors will be reliving their schoolyard days by playing some retro field games (like Red Rover, Duck Duck Goose, Four Square, etc.).
The weather in Poland is supposed to be hot and sunny for the rest of the week, so we’re looking forward to some more beautiful days here in 04274!
Remember to check out CampMinder to see pictures of your campers from Sessions 1, 2, and 3!
We finished up a busy week last week with Eco Challenge, a camp-wide event that was two days back-to-back this year where four teams (Water, Earth, Air, and Fire) compete in series of challenges. Some of the events included quidditch and basketball competitions, cone ball, frisbee baseball, tug of war, a banner/song/cheer competition, and the exciting Apache Relay. Though Air team captains Aisling and Frankie took home first place with their fire-building skills in the Apache Relay and Earth team won the banner competition with their awesome Garden of Eden-themed banner, Water team took home first place for the whole weekend! Congrats, Water!
After a tiring Friday and Saturday, campers were treated to some off-camp trips to relax and rejuvenate for their week ahead. Village campers (Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, London, Tijuana, and Rio cabins) went on a camping trip, attended a lumberjack show (flannel required), and woke up early to see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park (the highest point on the East Coast!).
Middie and senior campers spent a day at Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunkport and got the chance to soak up some sun and cool off in the ocean before a busy week ahead!
After a relaxing weekend away, campers returned to camp and got back into a regular schedule. For most campers, it’s their last week at camp, as session 2 comes to a close this weekend. Tonight, we are headed to Poland High School to watch the musical the campers from our overnight summer camp have been working so hard on, as well as hear the Camp North Star-themed songs cabins have been writing for Sing Out. Tomorrow night, we’ll wrap up our week with Carnival Day and closing campfire, and we’ll sadly be saying goodbye to many campers the next day.
Time has flown by — we have passed the halfway point and have only a little more than three weeks left! We hope everyone has been having an awesome summer so far — let’s make these last three weeks the best yet!
By Noa Billick
This is my 5th summer at the beautiful Camp North Star in Maine. Like many, I started out as a camper, in Dublin cabin. This year, I am playing a completely new role: Junior Counselor (or JC for short) in the youngest girls’ cabin, Paris.
Being a JC is kind of like being stuck in the middle: not a camper, and not a counselor. This is what makes it difficult to figure out where you are supposed to fit in. On top of that, there are plenty of different responsibilities that a JC has to learn in order to make an impact on camp, such as organizing evening activities, being “in-charge” (not fully, of course) of campers, being in-charge of cabin cleanup, and much more.
To those of you reading this blog, this new position at sleep-away camp may not seem like a big deal to adapt or to fulfill. However, when one has become used to being a camper under the responsibility of others that are older and more experienced than you, this transition may come as quite a shock at first. Despite the fact that I am currently only on my 11th day as a Junior Counselor, I have comprised a list of things that have made my transition a little easier, and more fun:
1- Put on a smile as soon as you wake up in the morning, and greet your campers with excitement;
2- Eat lots of bananas (they are pick-me-ups!);
3- Be ready to rock & roll by 7:00-7:15;
4-When in activities, take a step-back: you’re not taking the class, and you aren’t teaching it. Ask the counselor in-charge of the class what kind of part they would like you to play in the course;
5- Take all sort of criticism as a way to improve. Ask how you can improve!
6- When in a leadership-type course specifically for the Junior Counselors, pay attention super closely and take notes;
Notice how the counselors around you handle different kids and different situations;
7- Watch The Motivation Breakthrough, presented by Richard Lavoie. It gives you insight to the mind and psychology of children of any age;
8- Make the most out of any situation, and most importantly:
9- HAVE FUN!
By Todd Mitchell
In staff training, you are prepared that the kids in your cabin will become more than just campers to you, they will become family. I didn’t really consider how this statement would later affect me.
The first two weeks of camp seemed to zip by faster than a ride on our giant swing. I taught classes, lead evening programs and bonded with my cabin. I didn’t realize how quickly the campers in my cabin would become more than just campers until the last night we were all together. We started the night at the camp-wide dance. It was there where I started to realize this amazing group of young men would be leaving my cabin; either going home or reassigned to a new cabin.
It seems crazy but in the two weeks that I spent with my cabin what started off as an unique assortment of campers became a pretty close-knit family. We had varying personalities that at first clashed but then began to meld into one cohesive unit.
During the dance my campers mingled with other cabins but at times would come together to dance to a song. You could see the shared enjoyment on their faces as they had their last hurrah. After the dance, we collected at the waterfront for a final send off. We sat crowded around a tiny piece of paper, soon to be strung to a balloon, jotting down the things we would remember most from the past two weeks. Emotions began to sink in and when we released the nostalgic balloon into the sky. I could feel myself on the verge of choking back tears as we made our way back to the cabin.
The next morning there was a very muted tone in the cabin. Campers very quietly got ready for our last breakfast together. We ate together in near silence. The whole camp gave off the feeling you get right before you have to say goodbye to a close friend. The tone became all to real when the first busload of campers filed out of the dining hall. Quick hugs and several sad looks set the mood for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, our cabin escorted the two campers leaving for the summer around camp to say goodbye. We finally reached the point where we had to make our goodbyes. Once again, I nearly had to choke back tears as I waved goodbye to people I had only known for two weeks.
If this is what it’s like after two weeks, I can only imagine the emotional wreck I will be at the end of the summer, saying goodbye to not only the amazing campers at this camp but the camp itself and even more so, the amazing counselors I have come to know over the past month.
The cabin is now full of a bunch of new campers and there has been a huge change in dynamic. It is interesting how a couple of new faces can have such a stark difference on the overall mood and compatibility of the cabin home environment. It’s still sad knowing that as soon as I get used to the new cabin, it will nearly be time to say goodbye once more.
It’s been rainy since Tuesday here at CNS! On Wednesday we had another rainy day schedule, but campers still had fun playing sports in the field house, taking art classes in the bunk house, and spending some extra time in cabins relaxing during free time. Our evening program, Challenge Night, was held in the rec hall due to the weather, but campers had an awesome time competing to win challenges for their cabin! Some of the challenges included a spoon-on-the-nose balancing competition, loudest yell, a marshmallow eating contest, a balloon popping race, and the limbo. Montreal and Monte Carlo cabins were tied, but counselors Cameron and Barry had a rock-paper-scissors duel to determine the winner, and Monte Carlo came out on top!
Luckily, we kept our fingers crossed for better weather, and today we’ve had a beautiful warm, sunny day! Waterfront and outdoor sports classes were back on, and campers have spent the day out enjoying the sun.
Plus, everyone is SUPER excited for Eco Challenge this weekend! Captains were revealed at breakfast this morning (their surprise involved a choreographed Beyonce dance), and tonight new campers will found out which team they will be on! It will certainly be a fun and energetic weekend!
Let the games begin!
This past weekend was a busy one as we said goodbye to our two-week campers (we miss you already!) and welcomed new campers for the beginning of session 2!
Campers signed up for another week of new classes, and last night we officially kicked off the session with opening campfire! As always, the acts were varied and entertaining, as everyone showed off their best musical talents. Acts included the rocks and ropes staff singing a remake of “Girl Put Your Records On” entitled “Girl Put Your Harness On,” sisters Zoe and Noa Billick singing “Honey Bee” by Zee Avi, Liz and Isha performing their duet “For Good” they worked on in singing class last week, and counselors Morgan and Laura Bell improvising a song about bacon, just to name a few. Everyone did an awesome job — there’s no lack of talent among campers and staff here at CNS!
Today we experienced our first “rainy day,” as we woke up this morning to a torrential downpour outside our cabins. Despite the gross weather, everyone kept up a great attitude as they trekked off to their rainy day classes. By lunchtime, the weather cleared up enough to switch back to a normal schedule, so waterfront and outdoor sports classes are carrying on this afternoon!
Fingers crossed for great weather this week!
This week has been a busy one at CNS!
On Tuesday, campers enjoyed tacos for lunch and had an awesome evening in the rec hall learning some new rhythms with African tribal drummer Michael. Michael put on an interactive performance and brought campers up to learn new songs on everything from hand drums to steel drums.
Wednesday brought another sunny day full of classes and activities, and campers spent their evening at Bunk Night with their cabins. Some activities for Bunk Night included Giant Swing, music video making, and banana boating followed by eating banana splits.
Thursday was an eventful day as cabins used every extra moment to prepare for Lip Synch, an evening program where cabins choreograph dance routines and compete to be crowned Session 1 Lip Synch champions. During flex time in the morning and free time in the afternoon, boys and girls cabins alike could be found rehearsing everywhere from the rec hall to the Jam Factory in preparation for the night’s events. Every cabin did an awesome job, and we were treated to dances to everything from Disney songs to current pop hits to old favorites. In the end, Madrid took home the girls cabin first place prize with their dance to the Backstreet Boys song “Larger than Life, and Monte Carlo won for the boys with their creative rendition of “Sweet Victory” from Spongebob. It was definitely an entertaining evening.
Today has been sunny and warm (but thankfully not too hot!), and campers are getting excited for the dance tonight! Unfortunately, the end of the week 2 means saying some sad goodbyes to some campers come tomorrow. As our two-week campers are departing, more campers will be arriving tomorrow and on Sunday. We are already gearing up for our next session, and can’t wait! See you new campers soon!
By Beth Lester
I first started going to sleep away camp when I was ten years old. By the end of the first day I knew that camp was the place for me. I dreamt about the day when I would finally become a counselor! Imagine, a grown-up getting to be at camp, teaching activities that I love—tennis rocks, other sports—which definitely sounded way more fun than my parents’ jobs of sitting inside all day!
When I turned seventeen, and the time to be a junior counselor arrived, I was beyond excited. Being a JC was the next step towards finally getting to be a counselor. The summer of 2012 came and went, and before I knew it I was sitting at my computer filling out the Camp North Star counselor application. Although I was definitely nervous about the responsibility that would came with being a counselor, I excited for my first summer on staff.
The transition from JC to counselor is strange. While JC’s are technically “new staff” they really fall somewhere in between “new” and “returning.” They’re the grey, when it comes to something that is generally considered black and white. In a cabin of three counselors: returner, new staff, recent JC—the JC knows more than the new staff, but significantly less than the returner. But it’s nice; we balance each other out, filling in the gaps when needed.
Making the transition from JC to counselor last summer was definitely a lesson in ego. I learned that I had come into the summer a bit too confident because I felt like I knew the ins and outs. At the same time, it was uplifting to be learning new things along side other people, and to be getting professional advice from my former counselors.
So, arriving last summer—June 2013—it was a surreal experience. It felt like I was an old pro at the logistically parts of being a counselor—daily routines, classes, where buildings were—but when it came to the behind the scenes—discipline, being the campers’ guardian, building rapport—I was as lost as all of the other new counselors. But after the first 48 hours, everything fell into place. All information vomited upon us during our 10-day orientation suddenly became useful and became part of my daily life interactions with campers. I finally found my niche and went with it, and didn’t stop until the last camper scooted out of camp in late August.