North Star Camp for Boys







Tuesday, September 5, 2017

2017 Staff News


Our staff have been busy since leaving camp a few weeks ago. Read below to see what your favorite staff members from the summer will be up to during the upcoming year!


Ben Meyer - starting his senior year and Windward High School in Los Angeles. At school, Ben is on the tennis team and is involved in the investment club, film club and the psychology club.


Micah Jona - beginning his freshman year at University of Wisconsin - Madison where he is studying computer science and business. At school, Micah is joining Brody’s euchre club and looking forward to becoming a Badger sports fan.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bully to our September Birthdays


9/2 - Noah Broutman
9/3 - Kim McCormack
9/5 - Adam Gerard
9/6 - Josh Lederman
9/7 - Jaden Beltzman
9/9 - Micah Jona
9/10 - Benjamin Buchman
9/10 - Quinlan Rothschild
9/10 - David Oliveri
9/13 - Beckett Dreyfus
9/14 - Jalen Barrett
9/18 - Jack Forrester
9/18 - Louis Scheinfeld
9/21 - Dylan Baum
9/22 - Eli Alter
9/22 - Terry Sedberry
9/23 - Andrea Evans
9/24 - Charlie Fies
9/25 - Jared Marcus
9/25 - Kia Beickert
9/26 - Jack Heller
9/27 - Brandon Buchman
9/27 - Oliver Katz
9/28 - Nathan Ford
9/28 - Ross Krantz
9/29 - Aireon Jones
9/29 - Lake McCormack

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Importance of a Well Rounded Staff & A Call for Action


The J-1 exchange visa has allowed us to bring International Staff to North Star and make camp a more well rounded community. We've learned that the Trump Administration is considering executive action to reduce or eliminate the program. Please take some time to read more about the J-1, its importance to camp and what you can do to help preserve it. A quick warning before we get started...this isn't a typical Siren entry. It may get a bit serious and even a touch political, but it is really important... and we need your help, too. So please read on and stick with me!

Whether you're a camper, staff, alumnus or camp parent, you know the importance in having a great camp staff! Putting together the best team possible cannot be understated and it is the most important thing that Andy and I do. A camp can have an amazing philosophy, impactful policies and safety procedures that leave no stone unturned, but without the right men and women to execute that stuff, they're just words on paper and ideas in someone's head. 

And if you've spent any time talking with Andy or I, you know that we take our hiring process very seriously. It starts with our Counselors in Training program. Moving from camper to counselor at North Star is neither a given nor a rite of passage. We've known some of our prospective CITs for eight years, but they still go through an application and interview process to make sure that they're ready to assume the role of taking responsibility of caring for our campers. Jeff McCormack runs a program that is intentional and carries on the tenants established by Lou Rosenblum and Jack Weiner. Staff members are not guaranteed to return, either. Every counselor completes a reapplication and then has a re-interview with Andy or me... each and every off season.

Our hiring process for new staff is as comprehensive as you'll find. It starts with finding the right people. Sometimes we're lucky and applicants find us as they search the internet for a camp job. For most of our staff, however, we cast a wide net. This means posting to countless sites that will connect us with prospective staff. It also means traveling... a lot! In a typical hiring season we'll visit up to 20 college campuses to attend hiring fairs or just set up a table in a student union or campus rec center. There is nowhere we won't go to find the best counselors and support staff.

And once we have the applicants, our hiring process involves interviews with Andy and I (assuming they make it through the first interview). It's better to put in an extensive effort in February, March and April than to be trying to correct the wrong hire in June, July or August. 

So what are we looking for in our staff? Beyond having the empathy to work well with kids and the work ethic that it takes to complete eight weeks of camp, there are lots of different attributes that make great staff. In reality, there is no one profile that we look for. We see our staff as a puzzle. We need a wide variety of people to put together a complete staff. We need different personality types as well as a host of other attributes. Diversity is a key in many different ways.  With a wide variety of campers, we want a variety of staff who can meet their needs. We also want to expose our campers to a host of different folks with different backgrounds and stories. 

This gets us to the topic at hand, International staff members. Our International staff members play a fundamentally important role at camp. They are a major part of the diversity of our camp. They bring different traditions, background and world views. They open our campers eyes to a world that exists beyond their front door. Having counselors from Europe, Africa, Australia (and more) have undoubtedly made North Star a more complete community. Those who joined us at post camp last week saw this in full force as Manfred Frank, one of our first International staff members (beginning his NSC career in the 1970s) came all the way from Germany to spend the week at camp. He not only resumed friendships with those he knew, he built new friendships, too. For people like Manfred and others, those relationships are ongoing and show the true reach of North Star.

So here is where we may get a bit political and I ask for your help. In April of this year, President Trump issued the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order. There has been some question about what that executive order would target, but as this article in Monday's Wall Street Journal indicates, there is some indication that the Trump Administration is targeting some of the J-1 visa exchange programs. The J-1 covers a few programs, among them is the Camp Counselor program as well as the Summer Work Travel program (which brings support staff to the US). Both of these programs are ones that North Star uses to bring staff members to the US. There is real concern that both programs will either see their numbers reduced significantly or eliminated all together. 

There are lots of reasons why these programs are important and the benefits for our campers, staff and community have been tremendous. If you haven't been fortunate enough to spend time at camp with our staff members from abroad, take a few minutes to talk to someone who has. No doubt you'll hear great stories about having a trip leader from Calcutta, a sailing instructor from Edinburgh or a co-counselor from Dublin. Just as important is what North Star has given those staff to take back home as we've seen the North Star ripple effect truly go global. 

From what we are now hearing, however, both from executives at the American Camp Association as well as from the agencies that sponsor the visas, the threat to the J-1 is real. Some believe that executive action may be coming within the next ten days. And that's why we need your help. We urge you to reach out to those who are a part of this decision. This page will allow you to reach out to the Trump Administration as well as your Senators and Congressmen. Action that may eliminate the J-1 will likely be in the form of an Executive Order, so if you know of anyone within the current administration (or anyone that has a connection within the administration) please reach out to them. 

For decades we've had staff from across the globe come to North Star, help make our community a more well rounded place, and take the values of North Star back home with them. Please help make sure that this amazing tradition can continue for generations of campers and staff!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Carry On Vickie


There is still plenty of camping left in North Star's 73rd summer. We are currently in the middle of Lazy Day. Campers had an opportunity to sleep in this morning and have a made-to-order breakfast. For much of the day they are in charge of their own schedule, with the project areas around camp are open. Evening program will be casino night, where they will play a variety of games for the opportunity to win a small prize. Tomorrow is camper counselor switch day, where the senior village campers will switch clothes with the staff and assist in leading cabins and activities for a day.

As we approach the end of the summer, it is important to reflect on one of the circumstances that made this summer unique. Before the summer, we sent an email to our parents and explained how we planned to help our community mourn the loss of Vickie Shlensky and carry on her legacy. We began by hiring a child life specialist and grief counselor, not only to provide individualized support for campers and staff, but to train our staff to better support their campers. We held pre-camp orientation sessions that dealt with topics like coping with adversity and showing empathy and compassion when communicating with children. The aim was to equid our staff with the tools to facilitate conversations about loss and other life-changing events. The staff did a spectacular job of supporting their campers and each other through this summer.

We took a few opportunities throughout the summer to remember Vickie and process her loss. We offered a Friday Night Service each session that honored Vickie and discussed North Star values that were reflected in her life. The themes of these services were perseverance and community, and in the keylog ceremonies many campers and staff chose to dedicate their keylog to Vickie. Vickie’s strengths throughout her illness and end of life and were delivered through readings and moving sermonettes to teach our campers about the important North Star values that she instilled in all of us.

In addition, the fieldhouse was dedicated and named “VICtory Fieldhouse” and a space within the building called “The Wall of VICtory” was created to exhibit modified keylogs filled with personalized messages. A plaque on that wall reads “small VICtories that have made a big impact on us all” and is intended to be a lasting reminder of the qualities that made Vickie a role model. The wall invites future campers to add their own keylogs in an ongoing effort to carry on Vickie’s legacy.

The efforts of campers and staff made all of this possible, and it is with the love and support of this community that we will indeed carry on Vickie's legacy through a lifetime of North Star summers.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Alumni: Settle Up Challenge 2017


Even though there is always “plenty of camping left,” it’s hard to believe there is only one more week left of second session. It’s been an amazing summer at camp. Saturday was the 73rd Pow Wow Day. Camper favorites such as Espionage, Lazy Day and Camper-Counselor switch day are still to come. 

Over the next week Andy will also be settling up with the hard-working counselors and staff members who make North Star such as special place. Lou and Leb have long asked the staff to “Remember the Scholarship Fund” in that settle up meeting, and Andy has carried on that tradition. The staff have been making a donation from their salaries to Camp for All Kids, the successor to the North Star Scholarship Fund. Many of you were counselors at North Star so you know that giving back part of a modest camp salary is quite generous for these guys. This is year two of the Settle Up Challenge. We had tremendous results last summer when 60 North Star staff members donated a total of $2,934.00, and 40 North Star alumni pledged matching donations totaling over $22,000. As a result, the Settle Up Challenge raised more than $25,000!

Camp for All Kids promotes and facilitates racial diversity by sending kids from underserved communities to North Star and four other summer camps. These kids not only make lifelong friendships and experience the magic of camp, they also contribute so much to the camp culture. This summer, we were lucky to have 20 campers through this program from J-1 to Pine Manor.

The Settle Up Challenge is a gift matching campaign that invites you, our camp alumni, to match donations made by our current staff from their camp paychecks at the end of the summer. This is a great way for North Star alumni to model their philanthropic behavior for our current staff. Our current staff hear stories, read your names on plaques, see your photos in the Lodge and feel the history of camp every day. It’s people like you who they look up to lead the way.

The Settle Up challenge will increase the impact of each of our current staff members. If they know that their $20 (for example) may turn into $200 because we have 10 alumni matching them, that provides even more incentive for them, and we can send more deserving kids to camp! You can make your pledge by simply emailing Andy (andy@northstarcamp.com) with your commitment. You can set a cap on your matching gift. Last summer, staff donations were nearly $3,000. We are asking for a minimum of $500 from a matching gift. Staff donations are currently being matched by $16,750, but we are looking to beat last year's total!

We will total up the donations from current camp staff and contact you during the week of August 15 to tell you the amount raised by the staff. You can then go to the Camp for All Kids website and make your tax-deductible matching gift.

North Star has been the heart and soul of Camp for All Kids since its inception. Our alumni are consistently the most generous donors and active participants. Paul “Nate” Nathanson and Rob Porter have served as co-presidents many years. Moreover, four of the five Camp for All Kids partner camps are owned by North Star alum: North Star, Birch Trail (Gabe Chernov, Richard and Barbara’s son), Chippewa Ranch Camp (Cliff Lissner, who purchased camp from Tom Adler), and Timberlane (Mike Cohen). The fifth, Kamaji, was purchased last year by Kat Martin and Jason Nelson from North Star alums and Camp for All Kids founders Mike and Kathy Jay. The Settle Up Challenge is a great way to further instill on our current camp staff two of the distinguishing characteristics of North Star alumni – your generosity and your dedication to make the world a better place.

Please contact Andy if you have any questions and, as always, Remember The Scholarship Fund!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

College Days and The Green-White Egg Marathon





It has been a busy week here at North Star. The senior village played in College Days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The sportsmanship during the three days was exceptional and all four teams had a ton of fun. The rest of camp were in their regularly scheduled activities, but got to enjoy smaller class sizes with the seniors in College Days. On Friday night our service focused on the value of community. We then welcomed a group of prospective campers and their families for our second Rookie Weekend of the Summer. Today, we had our Green-White Egg Marathon, and tomorrow many of our boys will travel to Camp Nebagamon for our Bi-Camp Competition.

During College Days, the entire senior village was split into four teams for three days of varied events. The colleges this summer were the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Florida National University Conquistadors, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. In addition to competing in team sports such as softball, full-field soccer and basketball, the teams participated in less traditional events. There was a spelling bee, a Shark Tank style entrepreneurship competition a cheer-writing event and a cook-off over the campfire. Dishes as diverse as Mexican style chilaquiles to broccoli with bacon left the judges very satisfied at the end of the event. All four of the teams had a great time in a closely contested College Days, and at the end Hawaii pulled out a victory.

The theme of this week's Friday Night Service was community, with a focus on our former director Vickie Shlensky. We not only spoke about the importance of being a positive member in the communities you are a part of, but we touched on the value of a tight-knit community. As a group, we reflected on how Vickie shaped our North Star community and the supportive effort of the community when she passed away in September.


This afternoon we had the Green-White Egg Marathon. The event is similar to the marathon that takes place during first session, with one notable exception: the campers in each event have to carry a raw egg with them. If the egg breaks at any stage of the marathon, the team must run to the office porch to get a new egg. The marathon is one of the biggest events in our Green-White competition each session. Each of the two teams races to complete a massive relay race that features most (if not all) of the activities at camp. The marathon begins with a running relay and then moved to funbugging and paddle boarding. A runner then heads to the lower tennis courts for a floor hockey passing competition which precedes the Junior Obstacle Relay. Other camp activities such as archery, climbing, riflery, canoeing, swimming, log-rolling and biking are included in the Marathon. There are also some events that are not activities at camp but add to the fun of the marathon. Examples include the soda chug (smart campers get lemonade), tent making, bed making, setting and clearing a table and making a sun-butter and jelly sandwich. The marathon ends with "Boil Water Boil", which is a race to boil a pot of water over an open fire. The fires are always quite impressive and this event is a favorite because the rest of camp gathers around and cheers on their teammates as they build the fire. The 2017 egg marathon was a close affair with multiple lead changes. The White team capitalized on taking a lead into "Boil Water Boil" and boiled their water first. The marathon is the biggest team event we have at camp. Each event matters, and it is always great to see campers cheering on and encouraging their teammates throughout.

Tomorrow campers will travel to Camp Nebagamon for our annual Bi-Camp competition. Campers enjoy spending this time with our friends from Nebagamon each year, and they also enjoy showing off their skills in many areas. We are sending teams in the following events to Nebagamon: canoeing, swimming, sailing, riflery, archery, cross country, tennis and chess. We know our campers will represent North Star with exemplary effort and sportsmanship! This evening we announced the captains from each village for our upcoming Pow Wow Day. Pow Wow Day is the biggest competitive event of second session, and everyone at camp is split into four teams. Captains are elected because of their leadership and good behavior by the staff in their village. Congratulations to the captains for 2017 Pow Wow Day:


Seminole: Jack Yonover, Leo Falender, Max Rosenfeld
Illinois: Max Kaplan, Cole Degodny, Alex Burstein
Sioux: Andrew Harris, Oli Katz, Justin Sanger
Mission: Eli Gould, Josh Degodny, Noah Zemel




























Monday, July 24, 2017

The Start of Week 2!


While second session campers have only been at camp a little longer than a week, we are already into a great routine and it feels like this group has been together for much longer! Today we are finishing up our first set of activities for second session and each of the campers will sign up for new activities this evening. After tomorrow's cruiser day, they will have an opportunity to participate in new activities or sign up for higher levels in the activities they have enjoyed during the past week.

Since the last blog entry we have had a Friday Night Service with the theme of the importance of being yourself and a fantastic sermonette on accepting individual differences from counselor Oliver Cruddas. Friday Nights are such a special time at camp because of the Keylog ceremony, which gives campers and staff a chance to thank those they choose to in front of the entire community.

Saturday was a fantastic day on the programs as the campers started their second set of activities for week one. Evening program Saturday night was North Star Ball, a variation of capture the flag. At the beginning of the session, each camper is drafted onto one of two teams, Green or White. North Star Ball is one of the activities that takes place in these teams. Similarly to capture the flag, camp is split into two sides and campers are tagged out by pulling a sock hanging off their back. The main difference is that instead of a flag on each side, there are two balls. These balls can be passed between teammates as they try to get them across to their side. To win, a team must get all four of the balls in play to their side. The boys really enjoy this variation, as it adds elements of teamwork and strategy into an already beloved game in Capture the Flag.

Pine Manor went on a bit of a field trip on Saturday afternoon, as they were able to attend the final day of the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward. Our oldest campers were able to see some of the best in the world saw through logs, speed climb up and down 90 foot poles, run the boom run and try to knock their opponent into the water in log rolling. They were also proud to come back to camp with some party favors, as they received some of the leftover wood from the chopping competitions.

Sunday was another project day with an evening program of unorganized free and cabin campfires.  Unorganized free gives the campers an opportunity to find creative ways to play and spend their time. Later in the evening we have cabin campfires, during which the cabins recap the week and talk about growth and goals, both as a group and personally. These campfires are an opportunity for the boys to reflect in front of their friends and talk about what they want out of themselves and each other in order to maximize their camp experience. The cabin campfires are finished off with S’mores around the fire.

This afternoon we had another round of challenge games, when cabins challenge each other to various sports around camp. We even had two of our senior village cabins challenge each other to a "blob-off". This evening was another Green-White event, as the junior and intermediate village campers played in a Green-White series. The senior village kicked off College Days by watching an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the rivalry between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. College Days is a three-day program where the entire senior village is split into four teams without captains or staff advisors. They compete in various events throughout the three days ranging from athletics like basketball and soccer to a cook-out and a spelling bee.

Tomorrow is our second cruiser day of the summer, cabins are looking forward to spending some quality time together. Cabins I2 and I4 left on their trips on the St. Croix and Lower Flambeau rivers this morning and will return on Wednesday. I5 will leave on their own trip on the Flambeau tomorrow morning as well. It is hard to believe we are already more than a week into the session, but we are looking forward to all of the fun to come!