Monthly Archives: February 2017
Delicious meals, filling snacks and the overall food service experience is an important part of the camper’s day at Camp North Star. We go to great lengths to provide a healthy menu that is also kid friendly. But what constitutes a healthy menu for 7 – 17 year old boys and girls who are following an active schedule seven days a week?
For guidance we turned to the experts at Team Nutrition, an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service who define “healthy eating” in terms of five behaviors:
1. Eat a variety of foods.
2. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains.
3. Eat lower-fat foods more often.
4. Consume calcium-rich foods.
5. Be physically active.
This definition provided a foundation communicated through the My Plate Program.
With the help of a certified health coach, Camp North Star strives to provide meals and snacks that meet the USDA’s criteria. We did this by lowering or eliminating foods and drinks with high amounts of sugar, trans fats, food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, our camper and staff enjoy a salad bar featuring a wide variety of fresh vegetables and lean protein choices (low-fat cheese, legumes, eggs, and chicken) at every lunch and dinner. Chicken and other meats are grilled or baked instead of fried. Fruit infused water and 100% fruit juice are served instead of sugary punch drinks. Fresh fruit is available at every meal and throughout the day as a snack on the go.
It’s important for us to allow campers to create or continue to develop healthy eating habits while they are at Camp North Star. By offering so many nutritious choices, it’s common for even the pickiest of eaters to expand their palates during the summer with items such as Greek yogurt, hummus, guacamole, and falafel. And the benefits of healthy eating habits are well documented – mental well-being, ability to learn and concentrate, strong bones and muscles, good energy level, and the ability to fight off sickness and drive. Our number one responsibility at camp is the health and well being of our campers and being healthy includes a proper diet.
In 2016, Camp North Star became a nut-free camp. We do offer Sun Butter and Wow Butter which are allergy-friendly alternatives to peanut butter. There is one chef dedicated to campers and staff who have food allergies or intolerances. We are now able to accommodate those who need nut-free, gluten-free, and lactose-free food. There are also vegetarian options at every meal and snack.
Food service at Camp North Star is more than just about the menu, it’s about the whole experience around the meal. That means music, dancing, singing North Star songs and chants, and traditional hand clapping. Every meal is a chance for our community to come together as one and to spend quality time with fellow campers and staff while enjoying nutritious meals.
Spending your first summer at sleepaway summer camp can make new campers and their families feel anxious. At Camp North Star, we go to great lengths to ensure that campers feel comfortable before they even leave home.
New families meet with Steven and Brooke, our owners/directors, during a home visit or talk with them during a video call. This starts the process of Camp North Star partnering with parents so we can provide the best possible experience for their children. Parents feel comfortable that there is always an open line of communication with our directors during the summer and offseason. The home visit is the perfect opportunity to share any personal information about your child as well as discuss the goals and expectations you and your child have while they are spending their summer with us in Poland Spring, Maine.
A typical concern of new campers is wondering how easy it will be fitting in and becoming friends with their fellow campers. One of most important life skills our campers learn is how to make and keep friends. We help our new campers develop a friendship before they even arrive on our 200 acre property. We connect each new camper with a returning camper through our Camper-to-Camper program . A returning veteran camper will call a first time camper by phone in late May or early June. This gives new campers the chance to understand more about our camp on a peer-to-peer level and allows them to connect a face with a name on arrival day.
Camp North Star also makes the transition easy for families as well. We realize that parents are anxious to know how their child is enjoying camp. That’s why we have our Boys and Girls Directors call every new family during the first two days. The director updates the families on their child’s schedule and answers any questions. We also frequently post updates on our social media channels as well as post photos our password protected photo gallery on a daily basis.
And, if you need to contact any of our directors at any point during your child’s stay with us, we are just a phone call or email away. We are always happy to take your phone call or respond to your email. Every family receives a Parent Handbook each summer. There’s a wealthy of valuable information inside including Steven and Brooke’s cell phone numbers which you can call 24/7.
These steps help both the new camper and their family feel comfortable about the Camp North Star experience.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”, John Quincy Adams.
There are endless opportunities for our campers to be leaders at Camp North Star. Caring about your fellow campers and staff, being a positive role model, supporting a friend, following the rules, and being an environmental steward, are all examples of being a leader. You won’t find the word “leader” or “leadership” in the RICHS, which is the value system we follow at camp. But by being Respectful, Independent, Caring, Honorable, and Spirited, our campers and staff are leading by example every day.
As our campers get older, there are more instances for them to lead and learn about leadership. When North Star campers finish 10th grade, they have the option of participating in our Leadership Training program. There are three main components to the program.
First, campers attend daily classes led by our Directors on topics including public speaking, resume writing, interviewing techniques, internet safety, organization and interpersonal communication skills.
Second, there is a weekly hands-on workshop to learn real life skills. We teach our campers how to complete every day tasks such as writing a check, balancing a check book, doing a load of laundry and changing a flat tire.
The last part of the program is a community service component. Each session, the campers volunteer in the local community to give back to the residents and non-profit organizations. Last summer, our campers volunteered at Poland Township Day Camp, Good Shepherd Food Bank and Partners in World Health.
The participants of our leadership training program become more productive campers as well as members of their home community. It’s also the first step to become a successful North Star staff member. The following summer these campers are now ready to be a Counselor in Training (CIT) and are two years away from being a North Star counselor.