North Star Camp for Boys

Friday, August 12, 2022

Thank You

This is just a quick note to thank you for a great summer with your boys. It was a late night last night, with a keylog ceremony that lasted two hours. It is hard to explain what it is like to be able to sit and listen as the boys voluntarily express their gratitude and their love for one another, and even harder to explain that they all listened attentively even as the sunset turned to darkness and the sunshine turned to cold. With the final keylog ceremony, the Camper and Counselor Farewell speeches, closing slideshow and then the burning of the effigy, we sent off a group of boys this morning who were very tired, both physically and emotionally. Our boys did wake up to an amazing sunrise and a mysterious rainbow over camp. 

I hope that you have started to hear all about their friends and their counselors, their activities and the special days, the silly moments and the frustrating ones, the great food and the Council Ring sunsets. We are so grateful to be entrusted with the responsibility of guiding our campers through the highs and lows of summer, and hope that you are seeing a more confident, resilient kid than the one who left for camp four or eight weeks ago.

At camp tonight we welcomed our participants from the Four Star Fellowship! We began this program in 2018 at North Star when we welcomed 20 high school students from the South and West Side of Chicago to come up for a weeklong camp experience with their mentors from their community or school based programs back home. We have now grown the program to 75 young people this summer, and are so excited to have these guys here for the week. You can read more about the Four Star Fellowship Program on the Camp for All Kids website. The awe and appreciation that these young people have for the camp experience already has filled up the tanks of the tired North Star staff.

As a North Star staff, please know that even though your boys are back home with you, we are here for them (and you) all year long. If there is anything that we can do to help with the transition home, please reach out anytime. Please give your boys a big hug from all of us here at camp. We miss them already.

Thanks for trusting us with your sons,


Today's Grace: There is a destiny that makes us brothers,
None goes his way alone,
All that we send into the lives of others,
Comes back into our own.

I care not what his caste or creed,
One thing holds firm and fast,
That into the days and deeds gone by,
The soul of man is cast.
- Edwin Markham

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Lazy Day --> Busy Day

After a great game of Espionage last night, today was our Lazy Day. We slept in and had a special breakfast, but then the day really got rolling from there.

During each camper’s first summer, they are chosen to be on the green or white team and that team is their team for their life at North Star. One of the biggest events we have for Green/White competition each session is the Green/White Marathon. The marathon is a giant relay race that sweeps throughout camp and over the course of two hours covers paddleboarding, swimming, log rolling, portaging canoes, climbing, stacking chairs, making sandwiches, washing hands, making beds, riflery, archery, slip-and-sliding and finally, BOIL WATER BOIL! The first and second session marathons are almost identical, except that during the second session marathon, each team must carry an egg throughout the race and each activity must be completed without breaking the egg. The egg can be in your pocket, your hand or your sock (which was a new one), but if it breaks at any point, the egg runner for that team must run back to the office porch to retrieve a new one before the team can proceed. 

White was ahead for nearly the entire race, but it all comes down to Boil Water Boil, the final event where the two teams race to build a fire that boils the water in a tin can. The Green team fire builders started far behind the White team, but managed a comeback victory to win the marathon in very exciting fashion. Now we await the final scores for the summer-long Green-White competition...

Tonight's evening program was our fantastic camper musical. This year's show was a take on the movie Space Jam, but was instead called Kan-Jam, named after a popular lawn game with a frisbee that our campers love to play. Jack S. featured as Michael Jordan, who was a senior village camper, and instead of the "Tune Squad," he joined forces with the camp dogs to take on the camp directors in a grueling Kan Jam showdown. Director Cole H hit all the right marks with some great original songs and fantastic comedy, keeping everyone laughing with lighthearted ribbing of our Leadership Team!

Tomorrow is Camper-Counselor Switch Day! Look out for the pictures where our staff are masquerading as campers and our senior camper are taking over for our staff.

Today's Grace:
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
- Nelson Mandela


Sunday, August 7, 2022

The North Star Games

Yesterday was the 5th annual North Star Games! During the North Star Games, the camp is split into four different teams whose mascots are chosen from a list of constellations and planets. The four teams were Neptune, Volpecula, Scorpius and Hydrus. On Friday night, we opened the games with a ceremony of torch lighting and learning about the importance of the North Star. Each team had their own torch and flame, but the captains came together with their torches as well, to remind us that we are still one camp. Although it was a cloudy night, the sky lit up with fireworks to end the ceremony.
On Saturday, the sky was dark, but the rain stayed to the south, allowing for an uninterrupted day full of competition, fun and good sportsmanship. After an early wake up and a delicious bagel breakfast, the day began with cheers, runoffs and all camp leg wrestling. The teams competed and participated in almost every activity at camp, from sports like Polaris Ball, Basketball, Ultimate Frisbee and Football to specialty activities like Archery, Riflery and Climbing to water sports of all types. Lunch during North Star Games is a silent affair with no cheering, talking or noise of any kind, reminding us that there is no sound in space. The scores were close at lunchtime, leading to a memorable afternoon. After lunch, the staff played one pitch softball in order to determine the eating order for our dinner picnic, and each and every camper participated in a team-wide tug of war. The day continued with sports such as speedball and disc golf, and water sports including a variety of canoeing and swimming events, log rolling as well as Water Polo.
Following a fabulous dinner and much stalling, including a news report of a bear who took up residence in a family’s car, the final scores were announced. Neptune, the leader at lunch, won the day, followed by Hydrus, Volpecula and Scorpius (even though it just doesn’t matter!). On days like these with the camp split up, it is so wonderful to see how quickly all the boys laugh, smile and play together at the end of the day despite the competition. It was an amazing day and a great way to kick off the action packed action packed last week of camp.

Today’s Grace:
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The CIT Trip

Today our Counselors in Training took their CIT Trip, which we’ll take as an excuse to tell you a little bit about our CIT Program. After concluding their Pine Manor summer at camp, North Star campers can apply to become Counselors in Training going into their junior year of high school. Our CIT program is a selective program that the campers have to apply to, interview, and demonstrate that they have the maturity and responsibility to care for other peoples’ children. The CIT program places these guys in roles as counselors and activity instructors, while providing them with additional support and guidance to train them not only for their duties at North Star, but also on so many other skills that come with a first job. It is fairly unique among the camping industry to see kids this age take on so much responsibility, but we have seen for a long time that this program adds a tremendous amount of value to the CITs themselves and to camp as a whole.

One of the biggest pieces of the transition from camper to CIT is that while the camper experience revolves around the campers, the CIT experience forces them to put their campers first. One important skill that we strive to teach our CITs is to see the bigger picture, and one of the things that has long been a part of teaching that skill is sending them on a CIT Trip to tour other camps. Today they traveled over to visit four camps, and some of the CITs took some time to write about their day:
Today the C.I.T.s went out to visit other camps for the first time since 2019. We do this trip so that we can see and understand how other camps operate. Throughout the day we saw and experienced firsthand how similar and different camps are from our own. Each camp has unique and special characteristics that can only be witnessed in person. As a group, we had the opportunity to see four camps throughout the Northwoods including, Marimeta, Menominee, Manito-wish, and lastly Eagle Ridge.

We started at Camp Marimeta, a girls' camp that is smaller than North Star. Even though the community's population is relatively small compared to other camps, they pride themselves on having extremely strong bonds between campers of all ages with a great community atmosphere. Many times during our tour we saw girls in the oldest cabin hanging out with the younger girls and really making them feel welcome and special. At meals they randomize the tables for each week so that girls have a chance to get to know everyone. By doing this they reinforce the relationships and community they strive for. They have a beautiful waterfront, and their director Nick (a North Star alumnus) brought up many renovations he is hoping to do in the next few years as well as some North Star traditions he is hoping to implement.

Next, we visited Camp Menominee. Menominee is similar to North Star in the way that it is an all boys camp of a similar size with some North Star alumni playing roles in its history. Here we got to play a lot of their games and eat lunch with their campers and staff. I sat with a cabin of eleven year olds, and it was clear to see how fun and strong of friends they all were. Menominee has a very large and open feel, which seemed very different to our forested North Star home.

Afterwards, we drove to Camp Manito-wish and Camp Eagle Ridge. Both of which were Co-Ed camps however they each operated in a completely different fashion. Manito-wish is very trip centered, with trips ranging from seven year olds going for three days to eighteen year olds going for forty five days. They run two, three week sessions. One of which is all girl campers and one of which is all boys. Carter, one of the directors, told us they have about 3,000 people that come through camp each summer due to all the programs they provide. On the other hand, Eagle Ridge was described to us as a Leadership Camp. They are extremely focused on creating good leadership habits whether it is their youngest or oldest campers, in large or small groups. While Eagle Ridge was much smaller in staff and size than Manito-wish they still provided an extremely inclusive and fun atmosphere for their kids. And they had an absolutely huge bell that put the classic North Star bell to shame.

Overall, seeing these other camps has given us all a new appreciation for and understanding of North Star. Every camp is unique with their own culture. Some of the things we learned about North Star is that the structure of our day is like no other, because of the fact that our campers have so much freedom of choice in what they do. We also have traditions such as UN day and espionage that are highlights of our summer every year. North Star is also on an amazing peninsula giving us the ability to see the lake from almost anywhere in camp. After seeing all of the differences between camps, we better understand that there is a camp for every type of person and North Star is the camp for us.

-Leo F and Cole D

It was a great day back at camp as well, starting the first day of a new set of activities. It was another 80-degree sunny day following an amazing storm that rolled through overnight last night with continuous rolling thunder filling the skies for several hours. We also have started practice for the North Star Games on Saturday, which already has camp buzzing with anticipation.

Today’s Grace:
“Good is not good when better is expected.”
“It’s easier to pick off a fast runner than to pick off a lazy runner.”
- Vin Scully

Monday, August 1, 2022

Week in Review Video, August 1

Enjoy the latest Week in Review Video!

Today's Grace:
"To me, the most important part of winning is joy. You can win without joy, but winning that’s joyless is like eating in a four-star restaurant when you’re not hungry. Joy is a current of energy in your body, like chlorophyll or sunlight, that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.”
- Bill Russell

Saturday, July 30, 2022

College Days Kickoff

Today was the first day of the Senior Village’s College Days. College Days is a three-day event that sees all of our seniors divided into 4 teams for a self-organized competition that involves a wide variety of activities across the camp spectrum. The seniors work together to select their schedules and structure their teams. The festivities kicked off last night following the Friday Night Service and the first responsibility of the teams is to pick their college. The teams are Pittsburg State University, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Pepperdine University.

Today’s busy slate included arm wrestling, soccer, mascots and cheers, softball, karaoke, sailing races and basketball, while work has started on the judged plaques and preparations are in order for Monday’s cook-off. Over the the next few days there will be trivia competitions and football games, debates and swimming races, archery and riflery, chess and waterskiing, climbing and biking, canoeing and firebuilding, and much, much more.

College Days is a wonderful representation of North Star’s philosophy on competition. As you can see from the array of activities, this contest has represented skills across the board at camp since 1998. And even though the boys will play their hearts out, they will continue to laugh together and treat each other as friends throughout.

While the Seniors are busy in College Days, the Juniors and Intermediates are hard at play as well, starting their latest set of activities today. Cabin J-6 left this morning on their camping trip and tomorrow J-3 and I-4 will head to the backcountry as well. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect, as the afternoon warmed up to a sunny 80-degrees.

Last night’s Friday Night Service was all about gratitude. We took time to be grateful for having our basic needs met at camp, where we can count on great food, wonderful shelter, and the support that we need. We also took time to reflect on the differences between what we want and what we need, and how much of our time we spend thinking about each category. Wherever our campers go, we hope that they won’t take anything for granted.

Today’s Grace:
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
- James Baldwin

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Lumberjack Takeover

Today I was kidnapped as part of a coup…

I walked up to the Lodge this morning for breakfast on what seemed like it was going to be a normal day, and as I wished everyone my customary “Gooood morning everybody,” things started to get strange. Our head counselor Brad started yelling about how he wasn’t going to take it anymore. I quietly asked him to take his normal place, and he refused, insisting that he do grace and he snatched the microphone from me. We got through breakfast only for something similar to start at announcements.
I was trying to walk everyone through the details of the morning, and Brad starts on a rant in front of everyone how he’s been trying for weeks to get the whole camp to go to the Lumberjack World Championships and I wouldn’t allow it. I politely asked him to stop. He didn’t. I tried to have a separate conversation with him, but he wouldn’t have it. He blows his whistle, and next thing I know there’s a swarm of counselors swarming, and carrying me off bound and gagged! First they threw me in the lake, then lifted me into a fishing boat, and took me away.

I only wish I could have seen the campers’ faces! Brad announced that he was taking over and he was taking the whole camp to the Lumberjack World Championships whether I liked it or not. From what I’ve been told, many of our younger campers didn’t know what to think, especially when the boat came back without me.

Next time they saw me was at the entrance gates this afternoon to the world famous Scheer’s Lumberjack Bowl. Our little town of Hayward plays host every year to the Lumberjack World Championships, and we were lucky enough to be able to all be in attendance for the 62nd annual competition this evening. The boys cheered for ax and sawing events, log rolling, boom running, and speed climbing. We ate dinner, some good Wisconsin fried foods, and came home with some cool souvenirs and autographs. They learned the traditional Lumberjack cheer of Yo-Ho, and the Lumberjack rule that the contestants taking the longest to finish get the loudest applause. They sang songs with the Pinery Boys, a Northwoods Barbershop Quartet singing authentic logging-era music in 4 part harmony. It was a fun day, a special night, and I was glad to hear that some of the boys were even worried about me while I was “gone.”

Today’s Grace:
“You don't know your strength until you unlock your strength in the mind.”
- Jason Wynyward, 10-time All-Around Lumberjack World Champion