Monthly Archives: January 2017
There’s unlimited options for North Star campers to choose from within our elective based program. We offer activities in athletics, waterfront, performing arts, fine arts, outdoors and enrichment. Our campers are very fortunate that North Star’s 200-acre property and 55-acre private lake provides unique opportunities to learn rock climbing, high ropes course, water skiing, wind surfing, outdoor living skills and more.
But sometimes it’s nice to leave our home in Poland Spring and visit some of the most popular destinations in Maine and throughout New England. And that’s the main objective of our trips and weekend excursions…to see and experience the beauty of New England with fellow campers and our North Star staff.
Last summer’s most popular trip was a new addition, whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River. We will be heading back to Northern Maine in 2017 to enjoy another full day on Class III and IV rapids. This summer we are adding an option to explore Moxie Falls through a combined hike and canoe trip. Moxie Falls drops 90 feet into a series of large pools on it’s way to the Kennebec River. There are several scenic overlooks that provide a great view of the falls. The hike is moderate and fun for all ages. The afternoon is spent paddling down the historic Kennebec River in 10 person Voyageur Canoes.
Other popular annual trips include Portland Sea Dogs baseball games and 4th of July Fireworks at Poland Spring Resort. North Star takes over the right field stands at Hadlock Field to root on the Sea Dogs and we enjoy an all-you-can-eat barbeque buffet for dinner. We are lucky to be the only camp invited by historic Poland Spring Resort to celebrate Independence Day and watch their awesome fireworks display.
In 2017, we are offering a new trip to explore the White Mountains of New Hampshire. If it’s a clear day, campers will have magnificent views of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range and mountains in Vermont, New York, and even Canada.
Our trips and weekend excursions are a small part of the overall experience for our campers. All trips are included in the cost of tuition.
The Counselor in Training (CIT) program at Camp North Star offers our oldest campers with a meaningful transitional summer from camper to staff member. Our CITs have just completed 11th grade and will become seniors in high school in the fall. The main objective of the program is to prepare our CITs to apply and be offered a position to join our staff the following summer.
Each CIT lives in a cabin with younger campers of the same gender so they learn how to be a successful cabin counselor and positive role model for their campers.. One of the counselors in that cabin becomes the “mentor” to the CIT and offers guidance throughout the summer. During the program day, our CITs spend half of their day attending classes as a camper in activities that they choose within our elective program. The other half of the day is an opportunity to receive hands-on training as an instructor or coach in areas they hope to teach as a staff member.
The most valuable part of the program are the workshops led by our CIT Director. They give our CITs essential guidance in areas that include safety and supervision, youth development, behavior management, conflict resolution and homesickness. These are all necessary skills to be an outstanding and effective staff member at Camp North Star.
There’s also plenty of fun weaved into the summer for our CITs. They work as a team to plan and implement several evening activities and special events. They have an important role in Eco Challenge and World Games. Weekly trips are planned exclusively for our CITs. Last summer two of their favorites were a drive-in movie and going to The Escape Room in Portland.
The combination of guidance, training, mentoring and fun, gives our CITs an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They walk away from the summer with valuable skill development and growth as a leader having experienced responsibility in a new way.
We are fortunate at Camp North Star that so many of our campers return year after year to their summer home in Poland Spring, Maine. Many of our campers look forward to becoming CITs and eventually joining our staff when they are college students. For the 2017 camp season, we are excited that 5 CITs from last summer are joining our staff this year. It’s very rewarding for the directors to watch our campers go through the rite of passage from camper to CIT to staff member.
Families already love Camp North Star’s flexible elective program with 100+ activities in fine arts, performing arts, enrichment, athletics, waterfront and outdoors. Campers select five activities each week from those choices, then create a new schedule the following week. Our campers enjoy the freedom of choice to participate only in the classes they enjoy the most.
Our Coach and Artist in Residence program gives our campers an additional opportunity to customize their schedule even more with daily specialized classes from our visiting coaches and artists who excel at teaching youth. During the select weeks when our artists and coaches are “in residence,” campers may build these activities into their schedule. These visiting staff are all skilled and highly experienced instructors, chosen for their proven ability to work well with children of all ages.
Last summer, we had an exciting line-up of artists and coaches that visited Camp North Star throughout the summer.
Coach Chadwin Basketball Academy – Jamie Chadwin and his staff of basketball coaches gave our campers outstanding lessons and clinics for the beginner to the advanced basketball player.
The Handwork Studio – Classes included fashion design, fabric arts, machine sewing and hand sewing. Campers created handbags, pillows, pajamas and more.
Chef Steve Calise – For two weeks, Chef Steve offered classes in a variety of cuisines and taught our campers how to take a recipe and turn it into a gourmet dish.
Julian Krinsky School of Tennis – Krinsky is a leader in youth tennis programs. Their coaches helped our campers improve their tennis game.
New for 2017
Half-day workshops for campers who want even more instruction than a one-hour class allows. We will purposely limit the number of campers in each workshop to maximize the teaching and coaching.
In February, we will be announcing the 2017 Artists and Coaches in Residence for the upcoming camp season along with registration information for our half-day workshops.
There is a growing trend amongst schools in the United States to reduce or eliminate physical education classes and recess. School administrators, teachers unions, and policymakers have taken the position that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish what needs to be done for students in the classroom.
In Florida, a coalition of parents known as “the recess moms” have been fighting to pass legislation guaranteeing the state’s elementary school students at least 20 minutes of daily free play. Similar legislation recently passed in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by the governor, who deemed it “stupid.”
The benefits of recess seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. Perhaps most important, recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations. At Camp North Star, our campers use and develop these skills every day during the activity period known as Supervised Free Play.
Thankfully, our campers don’t have to worry about studying for classes or taking exams during the camp season. They can enjoy their time with camp friends while participating in our elective based program. North Star campers choose 5 activities per week and attend those activities for an hour each day, Monday through Friday. We offer a variety of choices in Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Athletics, Enrichments, Waterfront and Outdoor.
North Star’s activities are fun, engaging and focus on skill development. They are very different from a formal school classroom. Yet our campers still need a break from the structured environment of our activities. That’s why each day there is a period of Supervised Free Play. Similar to recess, our campers choose what they want to do and with whom. Campers play GaGa, Tetherball, Basketball, Frisbee, jam on their guitars, and make friendship bracelets. Our counselors are overseeing the activities while the campers organize the games and activities on their own. It’s an important part of the day and something our campers look forward to.
Schools may take away recess and gym class but the concepts of free play for kids and the importance of physical fitness will never be lost at Camp North Star.
We want our campers to make strong connections with their camp friends and counselors not to a Wi-Fi network or the internet. The rest of the year, our campers are most likely part of an alarming set of statistics that has been on the rise recently. Teens are spending nine hours a day using digital media, with tweens falling not that far behind dedicating six hours a day to their smartphones or tablets. It is clearly a struggle for youth to manage their digital footprint.
Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of the parenting book “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” tells the story of a college student at a salad bar who texted her mother to ask if she liked ranch dressing, rather than testing it herself. Such dependent relationships can rob children of the chance to trust and believe in someone else besides their parents. Creating bonds with campers and staff is one of the most important benefits of the North Star experience, and it happens more naturally without the use of technology.
It is refreshing for our North Star community to unplug from technology during the camp season. It’s a much needed detox from cell phones, gaming systems, tablets, and laptops for a few weeks. Instead of using technology we see campers interacting more often with their camp friends by playing cards, a board game, a sports activity, or just having a face-to-face conversation.
One of the goals of our technology-free policy is to give our campers the ability to develop deep relationships and strong interpersonal communication skills without the distractions of their cell phones and social media. Parents often tell us that their child’s time at Camp North Star provides a much needed break and a chance for kids to just be kids. And that’s one of the most important facets of the North Star experience for our campers.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017? Maybe it’s to learn a new skill…or accomplish a specific goal. We hope all of our North Star campers include continuing to follow the RICHS as part of their resolutions for this year.
The RICHS is our core value system at Camp North Star that stands for Respect, Independence, Caring, Honor, and Spirit. We incorporate these values into our daily life at Camp North Star in Poland Spring, Maine. Our directors and counselors teach our campers to use these values every day at camp, to continue using them back home, and by doing so, it will help them to lead a richer life.
Camp North Star formally celebrates these values twice a summer at the RICHS ceremony that his held at our banquet at the end of Session 2 and 3. One camper is recognized for best exemplifying each value. A separate camper is named the recipient of the overall RICHS for the being the best role model and example who consistently uses all five values during the summer.
It is extremely gratifying to watch the ceremony and the reaction of the campers as the names of the recipients are announced. There is no jealousy or animosity amongst the campers that some may expect to see when campers don’t hear their own name. Rather the emotions displayed are the complete opposite, sheer happiness and excitement from seeing their friends and fellow campers being recognized. And usually it is accompanied by tears of joy.
One of our directors, Todd Mitchell, recently wrote an article for Maine Camp Experience about how the RICHS help shape our campers and the overall community at Camp North Star. You can read it by clicking here.
So be sure to add to your 2017 New Year’s resolutions to be more respectful, independent, caring, honorable and spirited, and you too will be richer for it.