Category: Summer Camp
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.
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!
For many kids, heading off to camp for the summer is a real rite of passage. It’s likely their first time away from their parents and home for more than just a sleepover down the street, and the best sleep-away camps provide a taste of independence while still supporting the social and emotional needs of young campers.
To that end, one of the major goals of Camp North Star is to help campers learn how to make and keep friends during their time in Maine. For many young people, making friends at camp is easier than at school, and research shows a full 96 percent of campers say that camp helped them to make new friends. Camp North Star is dedicated to teaching this life skill in three major ways.
1. Take Away Technology
Camp North Star is a tech-free summer camp for kids, and for good reason. There’s growing evidence that texting and communicating via devices instead of face-to-face communication is hindering kids’ emotional intelligence and ability to connect with others. Camp North Star offers the rare opportunity to disconnect from TV, video games and smartphones. Instead campers spend time having real-world experiences instead. Without the crutch of a device, kids spend their time reading each other’s faces and developing their interpersonal skills the old-fashioned way — a crucial 21st century life skill.
2. Add a Dash of Nature
Taking away the tech is hardly a punishment, because Camp North Star replaces it with unbeatable scenery and a connection to the natural world. Set in a pristine location on 200 acres, Camp North Star offers a wide range of sports, waterfront and outdoor activities that get kids moving and working together to problem solve and play. Psychologists tout the benefits of time in nature as everything from reduced stress to more creative thinking, and structured activities provide kids a framework for interacting with each other and making new friends.
3. Provide Program Support
At Camp North Star, counselors are trained to guide the development of each individual camper. This includes an attention to helping kids develop communication skills. With attention to social, emotional and physical elements of communication brought to every activity, camp staff guide campers to treat each other with respect and provide the tools to build lasting friendships.
Camp North Star’s mission is to help campers become the best versions of themselves. Making friends is built into the philosophy of everything they do. Come to Camp North Star in Maine to see just how easy it is to make new friends that will last a lifetime.
In our last blog post we shared great advice for our new North Star campers from our veteran campers. The suggestions and guidance were extremely helpful because our returning campers can speak from personal experience about what it’s like to spend a summer under the pines for the first time.
We are very fortunate at Camp North Star to not only have a high percentage of running campers but also to watch many of those campers make the transition from being camper into our Leadership Training Program to our Counselor-in-Training Program and then join our staff. It is a rite of passage that brings great joy to our directors.
These staff members enjoy the perspective of being a former camper who vividly remembers their first summer, as well as the perspective of a North Star staff member who goes through ongoing staff training both before and during the camp season. As staff members, they go through a comprehensive training program to learn best practices to care for and give guidance to our campers. Some of them have spent over 10 summers at Camp North Star. They were happy to share and impart their wisdom from their many years at camp.
“My advice for first time campers is to take classes outside of your comfort zone and to pack some clothes for Wacky Wednesday. And don’t stress about making friends, everyone at camp is super welcoming!” Hannah W.
“The friends I have made at North Star keep me coming back year after year! There is something for everyone at camp, and we have built a community where we want to see each other succeed and try new things.” Cailley L.
“When packing, pack a lot of socks! When you are active all day your socks can get muddy or just dirty in general and you might just want to put a clean pair on. When you think you have enough, pack a few more pairs, you definitely can’t have too many socks! And make sure you have both heavy and light pajamas. The weather is very unpredictable in Maine and some nights it gets very cold and other nights you will be sleeping on top of your sheets because it’s warm out, so make sure you are prepared for it all.” Danielle J.
“Come in confident in your own choices! You are going to get the opportunity to pick your own classes and make your own friends, so come into camp confident that you have the capability to make these amazing choices.” Kate A.
“Making friend can be a little scary at first, but at North Star all the campers and staff are so friendly. I remember walking into my cabin as a first time camper and immediately feeling so welcomed. It’s important just to be yourself and you will make friends in no time!” Natalie J.
“We’re all here to help you make the most of your time at Camp North Star. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before you know it, CNS truly will feel like a second home.” Greg B.
“Camp is the place where you can be your truest self. It’s a totally judgment-free zone where you can put yourself out there by wearing a swimsuit over your clothes on Wacky Wednesday or by singing for the first time in public at the campfire, and everyone will cheer you on. It’s a truly special place, and I can’t wait for you to experience it this summer!” Emily A.
New campers are welcomed by their fellow campers, counselors, directors, and support staff…everyone at North Star who works together as a team and family. We can’t wait to welcome our first time campers as the newest members of our North Star family.