North Star Camp for Boys







Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Lazy Day, Green/White Egg Marathon and The Camp Play


Lazy Day Lazy Day, Oooh Ahhh. After a really fun late night of Espionage last night, today was Lazy Day! And despite what the name implies, it was anything but lazy as it was a jam-packed day filled with the Green/White Egg Marathon, North Star Ball and the camp play!


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. 

The highlight of every Green/White Marathon is the final event, Boil Water Boil. Two campers for each team spend most of the race searching for tinder, kindling and firewood. Once all the previous events have been completed, the entire camp gathers around the fire area to cheer their team on. The winner of the entire relay race is the first team that gets their bucket of water to boil over first.  So the two campers who spent the whole race collecting wood now get to see how quickly they can build and execute a fire hot enough to boil a bucket of water. The race was tight throughout and Boil Water Boil was extremely close -- with White narrowly (by 20 seconds) escaping with the win!

During Evening Program, we had the return of our camp play! Due to COVID-19 last year, we did not have a play but one of our CITs, Cole, wrote and directed the entire play and made sure we did not miss another year of such a wonderful tradition. The play was “The Campman”, a parody of the Dark Knight, and featured campers from all villages and even a few campers playing as camp dogs. Some of our Pine Manor guys took the lead roles and showed off some of their acting (and singing!) skills. The show was great and a really fun way to end our Lazy Day.

Tomorrow, the boys are in for a special surprise -- it’s Camper-Counselor Day! Our Senior Village campers will be the cabin counselors for the day and have chosen a staff member to swap personas (and clothing!) with tomorrow. We look forward to reporting on those shenanigans tomorrow!


Goodnight, ya’ll.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

North Star Games and the Big 10!


Today was one of the most anticipated days of the summer: North Star Games! It’s a day where the camp is split into four teams and competes in a variety of sports, swimming, leg wrestling, Tug-Of-War and other events. We started the day with village leg wrestling competitions. When the leg wrestling champions were about to be crowned, the sky opened up and it began to rain (even though it never rains at North Star…). We’ve been fortunate to have really incredible weather thus far this summer but this light rain lasted most of the morning. That said, the rain couldn’t dampen the team spirits and the NSC Games marched on! The boys had a blast playing Ultimate Frisbee, speedball, soccer, 9-Square, dodgeball and Polaris Ball to win points for their teams. 

Tacos were served during lunch but what makes the North Star Games lunch special is that it is completely silent. No cheering, no talking -- complete silence. The team of Capricornus entered lunch with a 20 point lead over Aries, Lacerta and Cetus but it was still a wide open competition. After lunch, the staff competed in a one-pitch softball tournament to determine eating order for dinner. By then, the rain had stopped and we were in the clear for the rest of the day. The afternoon was filled with landsports like speedball, volleyball and disc golf as well as some waterfront events like a canoe race, innertube races, freestyle relays, log-rolling and Senior Village water polo. 

After dinner and ice cream dessert, the entire camp gathered on the terrace to hear the results of North Star games. In 4th place, was the team of Cetus with 211 points.  Third place was team Aries with 219 points.  And in 2nd place....wait…what’s that van doing?...


It might be, it could be....It is!  It’s the BIG TEN!


That’s right - we interrupted the final scores to celebrate the tenth summer for six of our amazing counselors. Jaden B., Louis S., Adam S., Josh R., Bobby B., and Ethan H., have each spent ten summers up in the Northwoods with us and we are incredibly fond of the boys they were and proud of the men they have become. Right before the 2nd place team was announced, one of our vans pulled up in front of the terrace and six counselors spilled out blowing whistles and unfurling a banner reading “It might be, it could be, it is!” To celebrate ten years of camp, each Big 10 guy has a friend or family member tell a funny story about them (even if some of the stories are quite embellished…). We heard about abduction themed surprise parties taken too far, log rolling competitions and even a counselor-turned-Walmart-manager via underground tunnels between North Star and Hayward. After stories were done, everyone at camp dug into some delicious cake to celebrate the milestones.

But then it was back to the day’s results (even though it just doesn’t matter...). In 2nd place, with 222 points was the constellation of Lacerta. Capricornus held onto their lead from lunch and won the day with 242 points! It was a long, busy day and we will sleep a half hour later tomorrow.  Goodnight, ya’ll.


Today's Graces: "Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground." -Theodore Roosevelt. Lunch grace: "Silence Is Golden".


Thursday, August 5, 2021

North Star Field Games


The first three periods today were instructional periods, meaning the boys attended three activities that they elected at the beginning of the week. Sailing was a hit today with some big wind gusts creating large waves across Brewer’s Bay. While many of us might think of capsizing as a downside of sailing, when our boys report back to their counselors what their favorite part of the day sailing was, intentionally capsizing their sail boats comes up quite a bit. The counselors that are instructing sailing have chase boats to follow the sail boats and coach the kids on how to uncapsize their boats when they need to. Afterall, success is not measured by how many times you fall (or capsize), but how many times you right your sailboat and continue on.


One of the highlights of the second session is called North Star Games. It is similar to United Nations Day where the camp is split into four teams and competes in a variety of events. The captains were announced on Sunday evening, teams were drafted on Monday evening and throughout the week we have had practices before the big day on Saturday. The theme of North Star Games is constellations. This year the teams are Lacerta (lizards), Capricornus (horned goats), Aries (from a ram’s horn), and Cetus (often called ‘the whale’ after a sea monster in Greek mythology). While the official opening ceremony is tomorrow evening after the Friday Night Service and the full day of events is on Saturday, this evening began the first official events for these games of astronomical importance. 

Tonight we had our Field Games for North Star Games during evening program. These events counted towards the point total for the big day. Some of the more “traditional” team events this evening included Kickball (for Seniors/Intermediates) and Dodgeball. Then, there were plenty of lawn games including croquet, baggo, Kan-Jam, Bocce Ball, washers and more. One of my favorite events of the night was the croquet match where the kids decided to all go to Mike Hall and pick out a costume to wear for the event. Some of the campers were in one-piece jumpsuits, fancy jackets and even a Scooby Doo costume. That enthusiasm and creativity just perfectly encapsulates what it is to be a North Star camper. And, not to mention, the croquet event was super close too! Over at Bocce Ball, if it ever makes its way into the real Olympics, we may have some worthy participants who got their start here at North Star! If the enthusiasm and sportsmanship I saw tonight is what happens on Saturday as well, we will have an incredibly successful North Star Games.

Tomorrow is a day of activities, a Friday Night Service written and led by our wonderful CITs and our always special opening ceremonies for North Star Games. Chairs up!


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Cruising!



There was quite a bit of action today in the Northwoods with both our Intermediate and Senior Villages having their own Cruiser Days. Somehow it is already our final Cruiser Day of the summer. On regular Cruiser Days, each cabin will spend the day together and do cabin activities. On Village Cruiser Days, each village will have an activity planned. Today the Intermediate Village headed to Ashland, WI for a day at Maslowski Beach filled with Kan Jam, football, card games, and swimming. The weather was perfect for a day at the beach, and Maslowski Beach is sandy, warm, and waist-level for at least 100 yards out. The beach is also home to an artesian water well, which has become a bit of a tourist attraction for Ashland. Our ridge boys thoroughly enjoyed the “fancy water”, the sand, and the playground. To wrap up the day, the ridge had their own dance party in Mike Hall, complete with tik-tok favorites and some 2010’s classics.
 

Our senior boys enjoyed a day of disc golf at Fiddler’s Creek followed by pizza and wrapping up their College Days. Their plaques were finalized, with the University of Idaho Vandals doing impressive graffiti art along with a friendly potato. The Kohawks, Raptors, and Skylands each had their own impressive three-dimensional aviators carved out. Jamari closed out the events with a Ted Talk on love languages and how to express appreciation for each other. The Kohawks came in with an enthusiastic fourth place, as one camper put it, “top five!” The Raptors came in third, the Skylanders second, and the Vandals jumped to first after starting in fourth place earlier in the competition.

All of our campers, save those out on trips, will be back in new program activities tomorrow after a three-day period off for our seniors!

Today's Grace:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch that you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost.
For out in the world you'll find,
Success begins with a fellow's will --
It's all in the state of mind.
- Walter D. Wintle


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Bringing the Lumberjacks to Us



Every year right here in Hayward, Wisconsin our small town plays host to the Lumberjack World Championships. Oftentimes, we take our boys there and the lumberjacks love the enthusiasm that the North Star cheering section brings. Due to the pandemic, we were not able to attend this summer. But when you can’t go to the lumberjacks, you ask the lumberjacks to come to you. This afternoon we had the pleasure of hosting four of the competitors for our own North Star Lumberjack Championship! The competitors showcased their talents in the various events, explained the history of the sport, gave some demonstrations and riled up our crowd. The first event was axe-throwing into a wooden bullseye 20 yards from the thrower. The professionals went first, but then three of our Pine Manor boys and three counselors got the chance to compete. Palmer L., Cole D, and Gabe A. competed against Erni, Jorge, and Jack R and each had three throws. Tied after the third, Palmer and Erni went throw for throw to break the tie, with the counselors coming out on top. But Palmer may be joining the professional tour after hitting 6 of his 7 throws! Our boys got a kick out of the progressively more powerful saws the lumberjacks demonstrated, and our lodge has a new pine-tree carved directly from a log!


The day continued with the second day of College Days. College Days is an event every second session for the Senior Village. The kids split into teams and chose four colleges to represent. This year's schools are the Coe College Kohawks, Sussex County Community College Skylanders, University of Idaho Vandals, and the Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptors. The event started yesterday with bocce ball, archery, riflery and football, with the Raptors pulling ahead early yesterday evening. Our senior boys had taken a more academic route this afternoon with a spelling bee led by Danny L. In a futuristic-themed Shark Tank on the tennis courts, Danny M. and Jack H. pitched the idea of a tennis hitting wall that lights up and returns the ball to you randomly to improve reflexes and coordination. The seniors wrapped up the night with a basketball tournament in the field house followed by a karaoke contest.

More to come on college days…

Today’s Grace:
“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
-Francis of Assisi




Friday, July 30, 2021

Be Yourself



The entire camp community drooled again this morning and tonight we received all negative results! While we will continue to remain conservative with our Covid protocols, our testing protocol lets us reasonably assume that our camp bubble is free of Covid-19. I am incredibly grateful for our health team for taking such great care of our whole community and for our program team who have adapted to make this week a huge success in spite of the Covid-related alterations.

We told the campers the news as we gathered around the flagpole tonight for our formal retreat, which precedes our trip to the Council Ring each Friday. While we typically don't cheer on Friday nights, there was a big applause and a hearty roar for this great news. Then we continued on with cabin reports and the flag lowering ceremony before settling in at the Council Ring for a beautiful sunset over Clear Lake.

The theme of tonight's service was Be Yourself. Each week a counselor gives a sermonette relating to the value, and tonight Simon Crane gave a fantastic one. Please read it for yourself:
Hi everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Simon Crane. I’m currently a counselor in I-5 in my 9th year at North Star.

Tonight I’ve been asked to talk to you all about the special type of person that comes to North Star camp, and the even more special type of person who leaves each summer. We’re all very different people here, no doubt, but there are certain qualities that we all share having the common experience of camp. This is a quality that I’ve seen demonstrated beautifully by those I’ve met here, and that some others outside of camp struggle with. Everyone here has an incredible ability to be themselves in any situation.

I could stand here and give a speech all about how healthy being yourself is for you. I could talk all about how much effort it takes to pretend to be someone you’re not, and the toll that can take on your mental health. I could, and it’s all true. But you’ve heard that a million times. Tonight I want to talk about how being yourself affects those around you. It is nearly impossible to be yourself when you surround yourself with people who are unable to or refuse to be their authentic selves. It is just remarkably difficult.

My friend group for about my first 9 years of school were a ton of fun. I had really great relationships with pretty much everyone individually, but always felt like I was on the outskirts of the group. Some of my best friends one on one were hard to spend time with in the bigger group. They became different people. My friends who I could be crazy and goofy with one on one became serious and self conscious in the larger group. In situations like these, who was I to stand out as myself? It was a really hard situation to be in, but luckily I was able to get on a bus after that school year and come here.

Friends that I’ve never had to worry about, and relationships that have never faltered have all been formed at camp. I hope all of you feel that you are able to be yourself at camp, but why is that true here, and not necessarily outside? While I don’t have a perfect answer, I’ve come to understand that it’s so easy to be yourself because everyone is. Because you’re not alone in being unapologetically you. Camp is a place for everyone to explore their independent interests, to explore different social dynamics, and to form meaningful relationships. Whether you are here for the archery or the climbing, the forest or the waterfront. Whether it’s the friends you hope to make, or the friends you already have, camp is the right place. Whatever your interests may be, North Star is home to an incredible community built around exploring it. This allows for a group of 350 people living in the same place under the same circumstances to be entirely unique, and proud of it. As I got to camp in 2017, I reconnected with cabinmates like Louis, Jaden, and Jared immediately. They were the same people I’d left the previous summer and the same people I’d come to be so close with over my first few years at camp. They were familiar, welcoming, and, once again, constantly themselves. Because of this, I could be myself for what felt like the first time since the previous summer.

A few years ago, I had the chance to get breakfast in Chicago with Byck, Shore, David Cohn, and Ronan O’Byrne, a former counselor from Ireland who was in town for the weekend. Looking back, there was no one in that group who I’d known well for more than 6 months. Because of this, I was concerned about whether they were the same people at home as I’d gotten close with the previous summer at camp. My worries were completely unjustified, as we were able to recreate the carefree, humorous atmosphere of camp effortlessly. It was completely seamless. It worked only because no one here adheres to some fake persona. The people I got to know at camp and the people I had breakfast with were the exact same, regardless of environment, regardless of who they were with. It takes a truly special type of person to refuse to be anything other than their true self in any situation. It takes the kind of person that North Star welcomes in, and, even more so, the kind of person that goes home at the end of the summer.

For the last 9 years, North Star has been a place where I could come and truly explore the person I wanted to be. I could do this without pressure, without a time limit, and without judgement. Not only was this environment encouraging and nurturing, it was full of 200 other campers trying to accomplish the exact same thing. We all work towards a common goal of realizing who we are, and we all get there with help from those around us. As many of you are aware, leaving camp is a surreal experience. You are reexposed to social media, to news, to people who simply don’t understand what goes on past the arches of North Star. As you reacclimate, the pressures and judgement of the outside world begin to creep in. Every summer since I was 10 years old, North Star has been a place for me to ignore that pressure and develop into the person I want to be. I can confidently say that almost all of my progress towards that goal has taken place at North Star, with camp serving as a refresher and reinforcement each summer.

As I move on to the next chapter of my life in college, I’ve been considering the countless social circles I could choose to be a part of. As I’ve gotten closer to the school year and had the chance to explore more options, I realize what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been able to put it into words, but it has taken me until writing this sermonette to figure out what I meant. I want to be part of a group that refuses to be anything but themselves. In my time at camp, learning from all of you, what has become obvious is the importance of surrounding myself with the right people, with the right qualities.

At camp, we can be ourselves because everyone is. There’s no pressure to conform, and there is something to appeal to every possible interest. I implore everyone here to be unapologetically yourself, both in camp and out, and to surround yourself with people who are willing to do the same.
As always, thank you for trusting us with your boys. Not every moment of camp is pure joy; some have Covid-scares, storm potential or just other challenges that life brings; but we know that all of us emerge from camp better for it. 

Today's Grace:
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
- Albert Einstein

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Storming



“It never rains at North Star” is a famous camp saying. That said, you may have heard about the anticipated weather event across Wisconsin and Minnesota last night. We were being told to expect winds of up to 90 miles per hour in the area along with storms. We picked up our trips that were in the backcountry and we held our trips that were supposed to leave. We prepared our storm shelters, and readied the boys for what that might look like. We explained how the bells would ring, and where the boys would go. We closed the windows and doors, tied down the boats and put everything away.

And then it didn’t rain. Not a single drop.

We ate dinner outside. Then the Villa played North Star ball, the Ridge played beach flags and the Juniors played games in the Fieldhouse. And while there was some anxiety about what might come, the boys still had a great night.

But the weather isn’t the only kind of storming that we are focused on at this point in the summer. Conflict is a natural, normal and expected part of cabin life. Living in close quarters with a group of peers for 4-weeks is a ton of fun, and it also has its challenges. The boys learn to share their spaces and they learn to share their lives. The first week of the session is always a honeymoon, and then the realities of communal living set in. Relationships shift. The boys argue. Boundaries get tested. And while feelings may get a little bruised during this part of the summer, so much valuable learning arises from conflict. The boys learn compromise and communication. The boys learn self-awareness and perspective. And the boys get social feedback in an environment in which they feel safe and supported. So much of the real value of the camp experience is learned in these moments, with the our counselors there to coach the boys to become the best version of themselves.

Tomorrow starts with the whole camp drooling! We’ll be in touch tomorrow night with the results of our all-camp COVID-testing.


Today’s Grace: 
“I am more interested in the future than in the past,
For that is where I expect to spend the rest of my life.”
- Charles Franklin Kettering