Monthly Archives: July 2015
Eco Captain Summery
My time as captain of Earth Team for CNS Eco Challenge 2015 was incredible. Never have I been pushed to my limit like that. Being kidnapped at 6am, asked to write a song, a chant and design costumes was challenging enough. The fact that I was required to build a 5ft fire from scratch was a whole other story. Eco challenge began a week ahead for all captains, most morning involved waking up at 6 to practice fires, compose lyrics and talk strategy. While the two days were exhausting and involved a very swollen sprained ankle, they were without a doubt my highlight of the summer so far. To see every single camper rally together, cheering each other on – despite being on opposite teams – to ensure that all competitors felt supported and loved was, for me, the reason this summer camp is so special.
Four burnt ropes, eight outstanding performances and 100+ lost voices. How does one even begin to describe Eco Challenge 2015?
Although the games began on the 16th and 17th of July , for the eight captains it was a rude awakening almost a week before hand.
6 AM, I wake to a noise in my cabin. I roll over, still half asleep to see the smiling face of Jewels O’Brien holding a pillow case. Groggily I try to ask what’s going on but she interrupts me with three words, ‘I’m kidnapping you’. Only at camp does this thought not terrify me, probably just another crazy evening program or wacky Wednesday I thought to myself. I had no idea what was actually in store for me. After being led through camp with a pillowcase on my head I was finally brought to a stop on the dining hall porch and asked to sit down. I could hear other voices but was still unclear as to what was going on.
A few moments of intense silence, our blindfolds were whipped off to reveal a sheet of paper with the name of an element on the table and a fellow counselor sitting opposite us. In my case EARTH was written in front of me, and Barry McDaid was facing me. Things began to take shape. Looking around at the other pairings, the level of excitement exploded. The teams were clear; Amos Armoni and Izzy Garcia for Fire, Bea Durston and Gonzalo Chacon for Air, Jesse Litvin and Maria Hall for Water and finally Niamh Whelan and Barry McDaid for Earth. The challenge was explained to us and we were sent back to our cabins to pretend nothing had happened. How could we conceal what had just happened, our camp lives had been changed forever.
Our task was simple; write a team song, create and choreograph a team chant, design costumes, a banner and learn how to build a fire from scratch. Not to mention keep it a secret from every camper and counselor for seven days, before finally leading a quarter of the camp through an ambitious series of relays, games and challenges.
Barry and I woke up at 6 am most mornings to prep for the challenge. We researched a dozen fire techniques and listened to countless pop songs. We spent free times, off periods and flex times discussing tactics. We were going to be ready for ECO 2015, or so we thought, until we found out the games had to be pushed forward 2 days because of inclement weather. Tension levels reached an all time high and after a late night of finishing details to costumes and props we were all set for the next two days of madness.
Thursday 16th of July we had another early start as we donned our earthen costumes, painted ourselves with green body paint, gathered all necessary props and took to The Line for the ECO Wake up. Singing, chanting and beating drums, the eight captains were reunited again to wake up campers and raise the energy levels to the height they would be kept at for the next 48 hours.
The first contest began at 10am on Thursday morning and it was nonstop from there. Obstacle courses, GAGA and Kickball tournaments, Water relays and Natural Disaster had all four teams worn out by the end of the day. A good night’s rest meant the camp was ready to take on the final day of the challenge before the infamous Apache Relay at 3:15.
As earth captain, heading into apache I couldn’t have been prouder of our team. They had rallied together, keeping spirits high all day whether winning or losing. The final stages of ECO are a blur to me. Lighting a fire at the end of the apache relay was one of the craziest things I have ever experienced. And even though ours was the last to burn through the rope, the spirit and love shown by all campers and staff cheering everyone on in the final moments made the blood, sweat and tears entirely worth it.
Huge congratulations to Bea Durston and Gonzalo Chacon and all on Air Team on being crowned champions of ECO 2015.
By Noa Billick
Camp North Star is the most wonderful place on Earth. With welcoming, caring, and fun people at every corner, it is nearly impossible to walk onto the campgrounds and not feel right at home.
As someone who is attending Camp North Star for her sixth summer in a row, it is quite common to hear stories of the difficulties when changing camp roles at one of the best summer camps for kids.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to come back to camp as a junior counselor, or JC. I helped out in classes and cabins and had a total blast learning my new role. Within that role, however, I struggled a little bit to figure out whether I fit in with the campers or counselors. Since our JC group was so small, we were able to be a counselor and always have someone to turn to for questions, comments, and concerns. Throughout the summer, I bonded with campers and counselors alike. I learned about the importance of always being available to campers, preparing for classes ahead of time, and learning to be ready for anything and everything at all. As a counselor, I have reflected on these experiences whenever I am questioning a situation or whenever I am looking for the right thing to do.. There are often some difficulties adjusting to walking into North Star with new responsibilities and not knowing what to expect as a result. With that in mind, it is very important to know that it is all worth it.
This year, I was hired as a counselor. With last year’s group of JC’s being so small, we were able to step into counselors’ shoes for a short while which has been extremely beneficial, as we have essentially had a summer camp counselor experience under our belts. I would strongly suggest being a JC before a counselor: it is such an incredible and useful experience. Based on my experience this summer, I have put together a short list of necessary to-do’s to make the shift a little easier:
- Put on a smile as soon as you wake up in the morning, and greet your campers with excitement;
- Be ready to rock & roll by 7:00-7:15;
- Do what you need to do to wake up as quickly as possible – take an early shower, go for a swim in the lake, etc;
- Eat lots of fruit (they are energizing and total pick-me-up’s!)
- Take all sort of criticism as a way to improve. Ask how you can improve!
- Make sure that you have some way to get rid of all the negative energy that may accumulate over the summer – you don’t want to have that in the way of taking care of kids;
- Be sure that the classes you teach are classes that you are passionate about – kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and mimic it;
- Make the most out of any situation, and most importantly:
- HAVE FUN!
By Niamh Whelan
The list of activities offered at Camp North Star stretches from art classes to zipline, with anything and everything in between. We all love to cook with Frankie in the Cantina, learn guitar with Brooke in the Jam Factory, or chill out and paint with Nora in the Bunk House. But what we love even more here at CNS is learning new, sometimes unusual skills. Under the creative juices of the counselors, the vast array of classes becomes even more endless . Every year we add a few new classes to the list and soon they become an old camp classic, like quidditch brought by David Fox in 2012. This year we see even more new and exciting classes trickle into our schedules, Bollywood Dance and Sketch Comedy to name a few. These new classes add a certain vibrancy to camp that lends to the sensational atmosphere we experience on Verrill Road.
This week, Cailley Lapara, Amos Armony and Jesse Litvin bring some excitement to the week with an exhilarating new sketch comedy class, casually known as Saturday Night Camp. The three counselors at our summer sleepaway camps have long recognised the hilarity and creativity that we see everyday in all of our campers here at CNS and came up with this class to channel that talent!
Based on the long running sketch show Saturday Night Live, the aim of this class is to teach campers the basics of comedy writing. They are given the opportunity to get a few sketches written, recorded and then uploaded to youtube channel every week. In this class, campers learn the different types of comedy sketches, from escalation comedy to insane versus sane man.
This week I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of these classes, led by Amos and Cailley. The group, whose ages ranged from 8 to 13, were challenged by the adrenaline-racing, high-pace nature of improvisation. Starting with basic improv games and working up to full scale sketch creation was entertaining, all the campers got super creative and it was an awful lot of fun to watch unfold!
By Poonam Narotam
The flats were standing. The props in their places. The kids were a quiet wave of energy, buzzing with excitement. Lynn O’Leary played the first notes of the show on the piano, and the spotlight switched on. Devin Wright’s strong voice rang through the auditorium. We were in business.
After four grueling, fun-filled weeks of rehearsals, Camp North Star put on its eighth musical last Thursday night: Wilma Wonka Jr. For me, this musical was the first show I had ever directed.
I turned 22 in April, threw my cap in air in May, and came to Maine in June for my very first summer of camp. I had no clue what to expect, but I can tell you this: I was not expecting a Jake Hoffman to be so eager to play Veruca Salt (“I Want it Now”), or to see Roald Dahl’s Mike Teavee be turned Russian by our Vasily Semenov. Nor was I expecting to be so deeply charmed by these 18 kids.
Auditions took place the first week of camp, and, with a huge smile on my face, I looked at my roster to see…six names on the list.
“There’s no way”, I said to my co-director, Izzy Garcia. “Unless we live in the land of Harry Potter, there’s no way we can make six kids play 12 roles.”
And so began the process of literally singing and dancing to recruit kids to the play. I can’t remember how many oompa loompa numbers we created to perform at breakfast, lunch, dinner, campfire, camp meeting, and wherever else we thought we could entice these kids to paint their faces orange and dance around in overalls for an hour on a stage. By mid-week, I’m thinking to myself, Aren’t the kids supposed to be the performers?
Casting brought with it a bundle of nerves that confirmed one thing: I have the mom gene. I sat at the drawing board with Izzy going, “Does this kid have enough lines? Will that one feel left out if he’s not on Act Two? Are you sure he’ll be okay playing a girl?” And it wasn’t until the cast walked into the Recreation Hall that first Thursday morning talking about all the things they wanted to do with their characters that I let out the breath I’d been holding.
Four Thursdays later, I pull into the parking lot of Poland Regional High School, our performance venue, ready to face a 12 hour day with my munchkins. There was pushing and prodding, suggesting and, when they still didn’t know their lines two days before opening night, some yelling, to prepare them for this show. I choreographed and designed sets and freaked out when we didn’t think the sets would be painted in time, while Izzy sang and rehearsed lines and freaked out when we didn’t think the sets would be able to stand. And all we wanted was for them to be happy with their performance. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t hold their hands through the final run. Instead, Izzy gave them one last speech, and I blew kisses and doled out hugs. With my heart in my throat, I listened to Devin start off the show.
So when the audience began to cheer for the cast during curtain call, I jumped and whooped and fist-pumped along with them. The feeling I felt watching these kids achieve a goal they had set for themselves four weeks prior was like nothing I had ever felt in my life. And when the kids ran backstage after the curtain was closed for good, laughing and cheering themselves, I just began to envelop them up in giant group hugs. I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids to direct in my first musical, a better family to be a part of my first summer at one of the top-rated sleepaway summer camps.
The campers are here! The campers are here!
It has been an exciting week at camp. The first few campers started trickling in on Saturday, and by Sunday evening camp was in full swing. The session started with Bunk Night. Bunk Night was a way for campers to bond with their cabin. There were team building activities, card games, even a bout of Dungeons and Dragons, all for the purpose of breaking the ice and forming a family within the cabin.
The excitement was palpable as campers began their first week of classes and evening programs at our sleepaway camps in New England. Some classes of note this were: rocks and ropes course, canoeing and kayaking, water skiing, even nature art found its way into the schedule. North Star was teeming with campers going this way and that to get to classes and, based on the smiles on their faces, they are already having a great time.
Evening programs started with opening campfire. Opening campfire was a time where campers, counselors – even directors – showcased their talents. There was everything from theatrical skits to musical performances.
The next evening program was Color Night. Color Night was a huge mix of activities all involving, you guessed it, color. There was body painting, archery with paint balloons on the target, a music video involving paint splatter, and a bunch of other activities that got campers in tune with color, art and, of course, getting messy.
The following night was Division Night, which was a host of different activities split up by age group. Village Campers played a competitive game of House of Cards Dodgeball (this involves the normal dodgeball rules but in order to end the game, a house of cards must be built amidst the chaos). Seniors played a host of fields games, many of which were created by counselors. Middies and Juniors met in the Dining Hall for a game of Castle Wars. In Castle Wars campers construct castles out of cardboard that would withstand an onslaught of dodgeballs from the opposing castle.
Thursday night was Counselor hunt. Counselors from each cabin were given locations around camp to hide while their co-counselors and cabins searched high and low for them. There was a twist though, running around were “bandits” with water guns were trying to soak campers. If a member of a cabin was hit, the entire cabin had to go back to the basket ball court before they could continue searching. Stockholm cabin came out as the most successful seekers and will receive one extra dessert from the directors as their reward for finding all the counselors.
Friday night was Fireworks! We all went to Poland Spring Resort and watched one of Maines best fireworks shows. Kids started their evening with laid back activities including frisbee, football, cards and Ladder Ball and as the sun set we got settled
This past weekend, campers enjoyed participating in some good ol’ historical fun on Colonial Day and wrapped up the week with a trip day relaxing down the Androscoggin River on tubes or a hiking up Grafton Notch followed by some fun at beautiful Step Falls. This week we are looking foreword to new and exciting activities as we head towards the end of session 1!