Author: Steven Bernstein
There are plenty of competitions at Camp North Star where campers and staff try their best to win. Eco Challenge, World Games, Lip Sync Contest, and Sing Out are all examples of events with friendly competition where campers try to win or come in first place. Then there are the games taking place every day in athletic classes including basketball, tennis, soccer, baseball, and flag football. Campers want to win. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all live in a competitive society and North Star campers are no different. As former New York Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards once famously said, “You play to win the game.”
It’s great for kids to develop a competitive spirit early in life. Competitiveness is a common trait among successful people, in and out of sports. But so is sportsmanship and teamwork and those are values we emphasize every day at Camp North Star. Part of teaching our campers about being a good sport and a great teammate is how to handle losing. It’s easy to celebrate a win, and it’s also a lot of fun. Losing on the other hand is not so easy. Learning how to handle losing is an acquired talent. There are many lessons to be learned from losing.
Resiliency and Grit – Losing teaches children how to get back up and try again. The old adage is true – quitters never win and winners never quit. It’s a trait that’s a valuable life lesson.
Desire to improve – A loss should be viewed as a challenge. There’s nothing wrong with the realization that other people are better or more skilled than you. The positive approach is to take that information and use it as motivation to improve.
Humility – No one likes to be around a sore loser. Congratulate your opponent when you lose and be sincere about it. Humility is a part of life because every competition is not going to be a success.
Hard work – It’s not easy to be successful. It takes practice and training to improve yourself and your team. It’s an important life lesson for children when they learn the commitment and dedication needed to be successful in anything they do.
Appreciation – Watching our campers learn how to handle defeat can be a rewarding experience. Losing can be used as a teachable moment. It’s very gratifying to watch one of our campers celebrate a success one day after handling adversity the day before. It feels good to win, but it feels even better when you win after a loss. It can’t happen if you stop trying.
This summer we know everyone is already looking forward to Eco Challenge. And when the winning team is announced in front of the entire camp, it will be cause for celebration for one of the four teams. The celebration however, will quickly transform into our traditional chant of “Four Teams, One Soul…Four Teams, One Soul.” Because at Camp North Star winning isn’t the most important aspect of the camp experience. And that’s a lesson we teach our campers every day.
Camp North Star is steeped in traditions. The two most recognizable are the RICHS and Eco- Challenge. The most creative tradition occurs every Wednesday morning at breakfast when it’s time for Wacky Wednesdays. It’s the time of the week for our campers and staff to dress up in silly and creative costumes. There’s a theme for the week to give everyone a little direction on what to wear as well as adding some variety week to week.
You never know what you’ll see every Wednesday morning as the cabins file into the dining hall. You’ll typically see everything from TuTus to wigs to to animal onesie pajamas to complete Halloween costumes and everything in between. Dressing up isn’t mandatory. But it’s definitely something campers and staff look forward to each week. And some cabins put a lot of thought into their costumes and get very creative with matching outfits.
We are excited to announce the weekly themes for the 2018 camp season:
Week 1– Sports
Week 2 – Red, White and Blue
Week 3 – Twins
Week 4 – Schools Spirit
Week 5 – Clash
Week 6 – Tie-Dye
Week 7 – Decades
The weekly themes aren’t a requirement. We still encourage campers to use their own creativity. The themes are beneficial to new campers and their parents when it comes time to shop for camp clothing and pack up their duffle bags.
Two of this year’s themes were intentionally chosen to foster collaboration between friends and within the cabin – Twins and Decades. We are looking forward to seeing campers team up to dress in costume with one of their friends to be twins for the morning. For the final Wacky Wednesday of the summer, each cabin will choose a decade and dress up in that genre. Luckily for our campers and staff, we have a full costume closet waiting to be used every Wednesday.
Wacky Wednesday is another opportunity for campers and staff to step outside of their comfort zone and use their creativity and imagination. Camp North Star is a place that campers can feel comfortable when they want to be a little wacky or silly in front of their friends and counselors.
Music and performing arts are an important part of the fabric of Camp North Star in Poland, Maine. From singing in the dining hall, to preparing for the camp musical, to learning how to play the guitar, to performing in your cabin’s Lip Sync Contest performance, there are numerous opportunities for campers to gain an appreciation of music.
Camp North Star’s elective program allows campers with an interest in music and performing arts to choose from an array of activities that includes dance, music, theater and signing. These classes are tools that can be used for campers to express themselves in a way that written or spoken word doesn’t allow them to do. Dance classes give campers an artistic outlet to do what they love, and can create a strong sense of self-confidence. Music classes present campers with a chance to explore music as a way of self-expression, and has provides numerous benefits for the growing minds of youth.
• Stress Relief – playing music brings your energy and focus into a positive activity, which can help alleviate stress. Those reduced stress levels can help get your blood pressure and heart rate down to a healthy level.
• Exercise – Playing an instrument naturally leads to increased physical activity. Whether you’re playing the piano, guitar, strings, or a wind instrument, you’re using your arm and back muscles to play and/or hold up your instrument. And if you play the drums, you even get to do some cardio.
• Coordination – Using your fingers, hands, and feet in a rhythmic manner for a sustained amount of time, while also being conscious of playing the correct tones, can be a challenge for even the most coordinated people. Over time though, playing music refines your motor skills that go beyond the hand-eye.
• Self-Expression – Whether you’re writing your own piece of music or playing someone else’s, music allows you to express yourself in new ways. You also get to be creative when choosing your own unique style and genre.
• Making friends – Whether you use music as an icebreaker when meeting new people, or as a way to actually meet new people – playing in a choir, band, or dance company – music is a great way to make new friends.
At Camp North Star, another benefit of music and performing arts is that it’s also a great vehicle to help create memorable moments. Because music plays such an important part of the North Star experience, it is at the centerpiece of some of our most popular evening activities and special events. Campfires are all about signing and skits. Sign Out is the culmination of several days of practicing your song with several cabins. Dances at the end of each session are always fun evenings with your friends. These are all memories that stay with us long after the camp season has ended.
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!