Category: Education

  • Learning to Lose

    Posted April 12, 2018 by

    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.

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    Posted in Campers, Education, Summer Camp | Tagged , , , ,
  • Music and Performing Arts at Camp North Star

    Posted March 28, 2018 by

    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. 

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  • 2018 ACA Tri-State Camp Conference

    Posted March 19, 2018 by

    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.

    Watch for North Star’s posts on instagram and facebook for updates from the conference.

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    Posted in Campers, Education, Staff Training, Summer Camp | Tagged , , , ,
  • The Benefits of Being a Summer Camp Counselor

    Posted March 6, 2018 by

    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.

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  • Top 10 Reasons To Attend Camp North Star

    Posted February 17, 2018 by

    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.

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  • Summer Camp Cures Nature-Deficit Disorder

    Posted March 30, 2017 by

    Nature-Deficit Disorder isn’t a medical condition.  It’s a term that describes the trend that many children today have become detached from the natural world.   The term was coined by author Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.  According to Louv, kids who don’t spend enough time playing and exploring the outdoors can be more likely to experience attention difficulties, and have higher rates of physical and emotional illness.

    So what’s the cure?  Summer camp is a great antidote to fight Nature-Deficit Disorder.  In 2017, camp plays a more important role than in the past in fostering children’s connection to nature.  Kids have fewer opportunities than ever to organically be outdoors.  Attending a summer camp advances the outdoor learning environment, especially a sleepaway camp like Camp North Star.

    We are fortunate to sit on 200 picturesque acres in Poland Spring, Maine.  Campers wake up every morning to the crisp Maine air and beautiful views of our 55 acre private lake.  The North Star program places a strong emphasis on your typical outdoors activities.  There are options in ropes course, rock climbing, outdoor living skills, campfire cooking and sailing.  North Star’s staff also take advantage of bringing arts and enrichment classes outside.  It’s typical to see a creative writing class meeting in our picnic area.  Guitar classes are frequently held outside the jam factory, overlooking the lake.  Art teachers enjoy using a shaded patch of grass as their classroom.

    In his book, Louv sites an amazing array of studies linking nature experience and healthy child development, and concludes “I believe that offering children direct contact with nature— getting their feet wet and hands muddy— should be at the top of the list of vital camp experiences.”  We couldn’t agree more at Camp North Star.

    North Star campers are given countless opportunity to see what they’re missing during the school year and form connections with the natural world they may have never experienced before.   We are proud to be a technology free camp.  There’s rarely a complaint from campers about being “unplugged” from technology.  The opposite is frequently true. Campers tell us they often enjoy their time at camp more because they are no electronic distractions, and that allows them more time to be outside.

    Nature-Deficit Disorder can be fought during the school year too.   Head outside as a family for a walk instead of turning on the TV.  Go to a local park and play your favorite game.  Find something outdoors that interests you and spend some intentional time with nature.

    Posted in Education, Health, Program, Summer Camp | Tagged , , , , ,
  • Healthy Habits at Summer Camp

    Posted March 27, 2017 by

    The health and welfare of our campers are always the number one priority at Camp North Star.  Our experienced health center team keeps a watchful eye on our campers and staff.  But it’s not just the responsibility of our nurses and doctors to ensure the health of our North Star community.  Counselors, directors, support staff and food service staff work together to create a healthy environment every day.  Here’s a few simple things we do daily to keep everyone healthy and happy.

    Drink lots of water – It’s water that’s the key, not a sugary drink.  With ice water stations throughout camp, it’s easy to stay hydrated.  Whether it’s a hot day or typical mild Maine weather, we ensure our campers take lots of water breaks at every activity.  In the Dining Hall, we offer fruit-infused water during meals and to fill up water bottles during the day.

    Sleep – The benefits of sleep for children are well documented.  Sleep protects their mental health, helps build up their resistance, gives them energy, and helps them grow.  We have curfews that are age appropriate to give all of our campers the right amount of sleep so they are well rested for the next day.

    Hand washing – It’s camp.  We love it when campers get dirty.  But after each activity and before a meal or snack, our campers wash their hands.  We prefer our campers to use the old-fashioned technique of soap and water.

    Sunscreen – We want our campers to enjoy being outside as much as possible.  Whether the sun is shining or it’s a cloudy day, our campers wear and reapply sunscreen throughout the day.  We also recommend our campers wear a hat when they participate in activities such as soccer and tennis.  Extra sunscreen can always be found at the waterfront and athletic fields.

    Healthy Diet – It’s crucial for our campers to refuel their bodies throughout the day.  That’s why our food service staff prepares meals that are kid-friendly and healthy.  There’s always options for protein at each meal along with fresh fruit.  In between meals and snacks, campers can stop by the Dining Hall for a piece of whole fruit.

    Proper Clothing – Campers want to dress comfortably. That’s important.  It’s also essential they wear clothing that will help them avoid injuries.  Sneakers and closed-toe shoes are proper footwear.  Sprained or strained ankles are the most common camp injury.  Wearing proper footwear can reduce the risk of an injury.  Proper clothing is more than just footwear.  Being covered from the sun and wearing light-colored t-shirts and shorts are important too.

    When we keep our campers healthy, it means they are also happy and able to fully enjoy their activities.  The steps we take to promote a healthy lifestyle isn’t just limited to the camp season.  We hope our campers continue these habits back home.

     

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  • Learning Life Skills Through Sports

    Posted March 23, 2017 by

    Participating in youth sports is an excellent way for children to explore and develop lifelong skills. Youth sports not only play an important role in exercise, but promotes mental and psychological advances as well. Numerous studies have shown that children who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, and become involved in drugs and alcohol activity, while they also excel in academic performances and sociability.  Camp North Star offers our campers a variety of team and individual sports to choose from within our elective based program.

    The benefits gained by children from taking part in athletic activities help them more off the fields and courts then they do on them.

    Builds character – Playing sports at a young age enables children to participate in social interactions and build skills such as teamwork, leadership, and responsibility as they learn to work with others to achieve a common goal.

    Develop teamwork skills – Teamwork is a skill children will continue to use for years to come, so it is important to learn the basics early. Youth sports provide important lessons in team dynamics. Everyone must work together to achieve their goals, and sports allow children to sort through each others strengths and weaknesses to decide what  strategy works best for the team.

    Promotes healthy competition – It’s easy to claim that youth sports are becoming too competitive.  But competition is all around us.  Children will face competition in school, the workplace and their personal lives, so they must learn how to interact in competitive environments. Participating in sports will teach children how good sportsmanship and that trying your hardest will often produce positive results.

    Learning to Lose – Winning is easy.  Learning to lose and doing it graciously is not as simple.  Bad sportsmanship is an ugly thing. No one likes a sore loser.  However, losing with integrity to a better opponent is a skill that should be learned at a young age.

    Respect for Authority  -Following set rules, taking direction and accepting decisions is a large part of playing sports. Through regular interaction with coaches and referees, children will have an increased sense of respect.

    Resilience – In sports, you go through highs and lows as well as wins and losses.  Sports can certainly be an emotional rollercoaster.  Children who are highly involved in sport are more likely to become ‘psychologically resilient’.  This isn’t surprising when sport teaches kids to pick themselves up after a hard tackle, or to hold their head high after losing badly, then get right back out there for the next play or game.

    Camp North Star’s athletic program allows our campers to learn new skills and further develop existing ones.   Our coaches offer classes for the beginner up to the competitive travel player.  There’s also our Coach in Residence Program for campers who want to specialize in one specific sport.  We certainly enjoy watching our campers improve their athletic skills.  But, it’s most rewarding to see life skills they gain by participating in sports that help them to become well-rounded, mature young adults.

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  • Professional Development at ACA Conferences

    Posted March 8, 2017 by

    Summer camp professionals are often asked the question, “what do you do all offseason?”. Time is definitely needed to recharge your batteries after a long camp season. However, there’s also significant time spent on professional development. Yes, summer camp directors go to school too for professional development and training.

    Later this month, several of Camp North Star’s directors are headed to the ACA Tri-State Camp Conference in New Jersey and the ACA New England Camp Conference in New Hampshire. These are just two of the numerous conferences, workshops and seminars that our leadership team attend during the school year.

    The ACA Tri-State Camp Conference is the largest gathering of camp professionals in the world with over 3,000 camp directors and staff spending four days in Atlantic City. The conference is highlighted by over 150 educational sessions, an exhibit hall with 300 vendors and 2 keynote speakers. The ACA New England Conference offers similar sessions and an exhibit hall too.  This conference is on a slightly smaller scale with just under 1,000 attendees.

    Both exhibit halls are filled with vendors whose merchandise include art supplies, food service, athletic equipment, waterfront products, wearable apparel,  outside entertainment, popular trip destinations and more.  There’s always a few new things purchased to enhance Camp North Star’s activity program, special events and facility in Poland Spring, Maine.

    The keynote speakers this year are Susan Cain and Brandon Stanton at Tri-State and Michael Brandwein at New England.  Susan Cain is chief revolutionary and co-founder of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestselling books, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop TalkingBrandon Stanton is the creator of Humans of New York, the photoblog and book that features street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City.  Michael Brandwein is one of the top speakers and bestselling authors in the camp industry.  Former keynote speakers include Hilary Clinton, Michael Eisner and Henry Winkler.

    The most meaningful part of any conference are the educational sessions.  At both the Tri-State and New England Conferences, leaders in a variety of relevant fields present workshops.  The topics include childhood development, behavior management, emergency preparedness, staff training, healthcare, and leadership training.  The knowledge gained at these workshops are shared with our entire Leadership Team.  Then, incorporated into our own staff training.  Ultimately it is used day-to-day during the camp season by our entire staff so we can provide our campers with the most meaningful and well-rounded experience possible.

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  • Benefits of Participating in the Arts

    Posted March 2, 2017 by

    Camp North Star’s elective based program allows our campers to create their activity schedule each week from over 100 choices in athletics, outdoors, waterfront, enrichment, performing arts and fine arts.  The Arts program…from ceramics to culinary arts, stained glass to sculpture and dance to drumming…gives campers the opportunity to express their creativity.  And creativity is just one of the many skills campers learn from studying and participating in the arts.  There are several other benefits that campers receive from being involved in an art class at Camp North Star.

    Confidence – The skills campers gain through our performing arts classes not only train them how to persuasively deliver a message, but also builds the confidence they need to step on stage and perform. Theater training gives campers practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them. North Star campers can participate in classes that include dance, improv, drumming, guitar, and the camp musicals.  Last summer the musicals were Shrek and Lion King.

    Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn a pile of clay into a vase? How do I depict a specific emotion through a hip hop dance performance? How will my character in the camp musical react in this scene? Without even being aware, campers that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems which develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding.

    Receiving Constructive Criticism – Hearing constructive feedback about a performance or piece of artwork is a typical part of any arts instruction.   Through this process, our campers learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not meant to be a personal attack.  Rather, campers learn that constructive criticism helps them improve and learn.

    Dedication – Campers spend 5 hour per week in each of their classes.  It is common for campers in art classes to use their free time period for extra practice time in a performing arts class or additional time to fine tune or finish an arts project.  This type of time commitment helps campers to develop an association between dedication and accomplishment.

    Perseverance – When a camper tries to play the guitar for the first time, they know they are not ready to join a band just yet.  The first attempt at the pottery wheel rarely results in a symmetrical vase.  However, with the help of our teachers who offers the proper guidance and direction, our campers learn the skills and techniques to play a few chords on the guitar and to create that vase. In an increasingly competitive world, where children are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

    These benefits our campers learn through art classes complement the 21st century life skills that we emphasize in an intentional way every day at camp.   And focusing on essential life skills a vital part of the overall experience at Camp North Star.

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