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.
The directors and staff at Camp North Star are excited to welcome all the new campers that will be joining us this summer in Poland Spring, Maine. Our returning campers enjoy playing the role of “ambassador” to properly welcome and make the new campers feel at home and part of our North Star family. We know some new campers feel anxious and nervous as the prepare for their first summer under the pines. They may be wondering…how will I make new friends?…what is the food like?…will I like my counselors?…what are the best activities to choose?
These are all typical questions that many of our new campers have . The North Star Family Handbook and our Camper to Camper program help answer these questions prior to the camp season. Some of the best guidance comes directly from veteran campers. Here’s their advice for first time campers.
“At North Star, everyone is your friend and everyone is so easy to talk to. My first summer I was nervous I wouldn’t make any friends, but the second I walked into my cabin I was greeted with hugs from people I’ve never met and they have become my best friends.” Hailey J.
“Get excited! Having spirit and loving and enjoying every moment is such a huge part of camp and if you don’t lose your voice at least once while you’re there, you’re not doing it right! Being passionate and excited about camp is something I’m not afraid to show, in fact, I embrace it!” Emma O.
“My first year, I remember being very nervous due to my age (16 years old) and I was nervous that everyone would already have a certain “friend group.” I was definitely wrong. Camp North Star made me feel welcomed right when I got there. To have the best time at camp and for you to be prepared I suggest coming into camp with a positive attitude.” Madison M.
“Be yourself. The community here is very accepting, and I promise that 100%. Just be prepared, the summer of your life is right ahead of you. As the saying ’round here goes – Camp is more than a place, it’s a feeling.” Zach B.
“Don’t be afraid to go to your counselors about any problems or questions, because most likely they’ve been through the same situation.” Sarah N.
“Be sure to follow the packing list. The list is very accurate! You do not need to bring anything extra. Trust me, I over packed my first summer and brought all the extras home untouched.” Jade M.
“Don’t forget to pack bug spray and sunscreen because you’ll need both.” Natalia R.
North Star’s Camper to Camper program connects first time campers with returning campers like these prior to the camp season. They talk on the phone, develop a friendship before the summer starts and the first time camper has all their questions answered. In our next blog, we’ll have advice from current North Star staff who are former campers.