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.
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.
Summer camp is full of traditions. And Camp North Star is no different. From Eco Challenge…to RICHS…to songs at the campfire. Our traditions are woven into the fabric of our culture here in Poland Spring, Maine. Some traditions are more formal and structured, such as announcing the recipients of the RICHS at banquet. Others are more informal. Wacky Wednesdays would definitely be classified as informal, a little silly, and an opportunity for campers to express their creativity.
Breakfast in the dining hall is when Wacky Wednesdays generally occur. Cabin after cabin enters through the doors and the outfits worn by campers, counselors and directors are wacky, silly, crazy and zany. Some outfits will clash – think polka dots and plaids. Others will be more of a costume like animals or fruits. There are usually a few who fashion a sports themed look showing pride for their favorite team or school. Then there are the themed ensembles. Some campers go to great lengths to coordinate a theme with their friends – lumber jacks, cartoon characters, super heroes, onesie pajamas and more.
There are no rules or regulations to Wacky Wednesdays. Some campers and staff get a little wackier than others. To help guide campers to find a wacky look for each week, there is a theme for each Wednesday. The 2017 dress up themes are:
Week 1– Clash
Week 2 – Patriotic
Week 3 – Tie Dye
Week 4 – Sports
Week 5 – Crazy Hair
Week 6 – International
Week 7 – Pajama
The weekly themes aren’t a requirement. We still encourage campers to use their own creativity. The themes are extremely helpful to new campers and their parents when it comes time to shop for camp clothing and pack up their duffle bags.
Being wacky, a little silly, and stepping outside of your comfort zone is all part of the sleep away camp experience at Camp North Star. Summer camp is a place that campers should feel safe and secure to be silly and let their imagination go wild at times. Our campers have the confidence to know that there’s nothing wrong with being wacky on Wednesdays or any other day of the week because Camp North Star is a judgment-free community. Campers can be themselves , which means acting like a kid and enjoying doing that.
Camp North Star campers often tell us that they get more camp sick during the offseason than homesick during the camp season. It’s because they are missing summer camp so much during the school year. With Spring fever in the air, we know many of our campers are counting down the days until they are in Poland Spring, Maine, and driving down Verrill Road for the start of another memorable camp season. Here are a few things you can do at home to get you into the camp mood.
Send a Letter to a camp friend. And we mean actual handwritten letter. No texts. No snap chats. Grab a pen and paper and tell them what’s new with you and all the fun things you are looking forward to doing together this summer at Camp North Star. Think of the smile on your friend’s face when they receiver your letter in the mail.
Enjoy your favorite camp meal. If it’s Tuesday, ask your parents to have your own Taco Tuesday dinner. See if you can have grilled cheese and tomato soup on Friday’s menu. And the meal that can really put you into the camp spirit is a barbecue. Just like the ones we have on Monday nights for dinner when we eat outside in the picnic area.
Enjoy the great outdoors. We know you probably don’t have a private lake or a picturesque 200 acre property with tall pine trees nearby. But find a local park or nature area and go for a walk with family or friends. Imagine yourself being back under the pines at North Star. Remember the sunscreen, bug spray and a water bottle!
Make s’mores. What’s more synonymous with camp than s’mores? If you don’t have access to an outdoor fire pit or a fireplace, try this recipe for indoor s’mores. And before long, you’ll be back at one of our campfires, surrounded by camp friends, singing your favorite camp songs, and roasting two marshmallows to perfection.
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.
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 Talking. Brandon 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.
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.