North Star Camp for Boys

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Movin' on from Motown

Our semi-short trip to the Detroit area has come to an end, but not without more staff and camper recruitment... and more good food.

On Tuesday Andy and I awoke bright and early to spend the day at the University of Michigan in the Memorial Union. When we got there we found the room we were assigned to, which was actually two rooms, the front a lounge area with couches and formal chairs, and the back a full board room. We spent the day in the lounge area and Andy and I felt like we were in some type of aristocratic setting. We were visited by counselor Roddy Hyduk and alum Ryan Jacobs. Roddy showed us one of the great videos that he is working on and we'll be sure to pass it along when he's done with it.

Now when we told people that we were going to Ann Arbor, Michigan, we were told that we had to have lunch at Zingerman's Deli. A minimum of half a dozen people told us this, but we were well aware of this requirement after our visit last year. Andy had the #2 and I had the #18.

Wednesday was a full day for us. We started off in Ypsilanti, MI at Eastern Michigan University to recruit staff. Unfortunately, the spot that we wanted was already reserved... so we were put in an area that they confirmed was a high traffic location. The only problem is that it where we were seated was once (or perhaps still is) an information booth, complete with a large wooden kiosk, info brochures and a sign above that said "Information Booth". Needless to say, more people stopped to query us regarding campus information than to inquire about jobs. The most popular question was "Is there an ATM in this building" (asked by 6 people) followed by "Can I have a Laffy Taffy" (5), "Where is there a computer lab" (4), "Where is academic advising" (3), "Where is the bathroom" (3), "Where is room 236" (2) and "Where is Veterans Affairs" (1). We did talk to some prospective applicants, as well as counselor Geoff Young. After finishing up at EMU, we went to West Bloomfield H.S. to meet attend a Camper Expo. We had a great time meeting some prospective campers.

Today was a travel day back to the Chicago area. We got back in the early afternoon, but we'll leave again tomorrow... headed for St. Louis. It will give Andy some quality time with Vickie before she leaves for a month medical school rotation in India. Hopefully I'll get to watch the episode of Modern Family that I missed last night.

835 miles and counting...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Welcome 2 Detroit

Over the coming weeks Andy and I will become used to spending many hours together on the road. Andy actually jokes that we spend more February nights together in hotel rooms than he spends with his wife Vickie. This is especially true since Vickie is about to embark on a month long trip to India as part of her medical school rotation.

The drive from Chicago to Detroit (Soutfield, Michigan, to be more precise) was uneventful. After traversing the foggy skyway in Gary, Indiana, we quickly made it to Michigan. Stop one of our day was in Mason, Michigan, where we visited with NSC alum Alexander W. Heldman. We had a great time visiting with him and wish we could have stayed longer, but we had to get to the Detroit area. We made an evening visit to see camper Henry Mendel and his parents. Thanks to the Mendels for being great hosts!

Being on the road and visiting the cities multiple times we find "keeper restaurants" and last year The Redcoat Tavern was recommended to us. Well, this is one of our favorites and if you're ever in the Detroit area and looking for a good burger, this one gets two thumbs up. The Redcoat was our first legit meal of the trip and it did not disappoint. Tomorrow we'll visit another one of our favorites, Zingerman's Deli, though as we learned last year Zingerman's Roadhouse isn't Zingerman's Deli (thank you Mike Swiryn). We'll spend the day in Ann Arbor, occupying a room in the Union at the University of Michigan from 10am -3pm, looking for great counselors.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Leb and Sue's Winter Trip to NSC

If you haven't checked out the January 2011 Siren, Sue wrote up the following story about the Lebby family trip to NSC. We promised you more pics, too, so enjoy!

The Lebby family dodged weather systems from Arizona to Wisconsin to spend a little time in front of the fireplace at camp. We were close to landing in Hayward when we were informed that the runway was quite icy, and had to divert to Duluth. We laughed when we found out the scientific way that the Hayward Airport determines the slickness. They get out on the runway with their pick-up , step on the gas to 80 m.p.h. and then haul on the brakes. If they skid then they deem it is slick. We took their word for it and waited it out in Duluth until they to put gravel down and tried the whole process again.

Once at camp we felt like we were in heaven. We hadn't been to camp with the family in the winter since Garrett and Kacy were very young. In those days we shoveled off the lake and went ice skating, made snow forts, pulled sleds behind the 4 wheeler, took saunas followed by a leap into the snow and went ice-fishing with Tom on the Chippewa Flowage. The kids loved strapping on skates and checking on the holes that Tom drilled into the ice. On this trip we did puzzles, sat by the fire, took long walks in the knee deep snow on Spider lake, made pizza from scratch, checked out Hayward and Famous Dave’s, bowled at Anglers and, for old time’s sake, Garrett shoveled off a spot on the lake for ice-fishing and skating. Never mind that the fish weren't biting. It was all in the process. Rose, Garrett's fiance is a southern girl so this was all new for her. She piled on the clothes and was a great sport. It was so beautiful in the snow we didn't want to come in so we built a little fire on the lake and made hot chocolate and had a winter picnic. In the end we never want to leave.

Despite the cold and snow, Tom was doing renovations on the outside of Arts and Crafts and had his smoker out in the snow for smoking fish. Emmy was very happy to see us. She has a full winter coat and was romping around in the snow. I think that she misses all of the action without the boys. The next time we see camp, the ice will be off of the lake and subtle signs of spring will be in view!

- Sue

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January Siren

The January 2011 Siren is now online. Its packed full of North Star news as well as the latest details on returning campers and staff. We're excited about all the great counselors who have signed on to return over the last month! Also read about Sue and Leb's winter trip to NSC. We'll
post more pics from their trip in the next few days so check back.

You can access the January Siren here or go to, click the link for current families, and then you'll find the newsletters in the media room. You can also view past Sirens in the media room if you missed any past issues and want to catch up on the latest camp news and see all the great campers and staff who will be at NSC in 2011!

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the Road Again...

Over the coming month or so, Andy and I will be on the road attending both camper and staff recruitment events. If you happen to be anywhere near where we'll be, stop on by. If you know of any prospective campers or staff in these areas, either let is know or be sure to pass along word that we'll be in their area. We'd be happy to see them at one of our fairs or set up an appointment to meet with them individually.

1/25: Ann Arbor, MI - Univ. of Michigan - Michigan Union, 9am - 3pm
1/26: Ypsilanti, MI - Eastern Michigan Univ. - McKenny Hall, 9am - 3pm
1/26: West Bloomfield, MI - Camper Expo - West Bloomfield H.S., 6 - 8pm
1/29: St. Louis, MO - Summer Opportunities (camper) Fair - Mary Inst. & St. Louis Country Day School, 10am - 3pm
2/3: Phoenix, AZ - Camper Reunion, 6:30pm
2/5: Los Angeles, CA - Camper Reunion, 2:30pm
2/6 - 2/11: San Diego, CA - American Camp Association Conference
2/15: Stevens Point, WI - Summer Camp Job Fair - UW-Stevens Point Dreyfus Center, 10am - 3pm
2/16: La Crosse, WI - Summer Job Fair - UW Lacrosse Cartwright Center, 10am - 3pm
2/17: Bloomington, IN - Summer Camp Job Fair - Indiana Univ. Memorial Union , 11:30am - 3pm
2/18: West Lafayette, IN - Summer Camp Job Fair - Purdue Memorial Union, 11am - 3pm

This schedule is subject to change and we are anticipating adding additional stops to our travels, including a visit to the University of Illinois and other schools. If you'd like any additional information about specific events, feel free to email me at and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

Again, we're able to schedule home visits with prospective campers as we're planning on being in many of these locations both before and after the specific event that we have scheduled. Of course, if you know of any must see tourist attractions or highly recommended dining stops, be sure to pass that along, too!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jordan Reiff's Adventures in New Zealand

North Star staff member Jordan Reiff just arrived back in the US after spending his fall semester in New Zealand on a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course. Upon his return, we commissioned an article for Leb's Ramblings to hear about his adventures.

Lots of Time in the Woods: A North Star Alum in New Zealand
If North Star has taught me anything, it is that if you have a chance to go outside, GO. So, this semester I went to New Zealand to take a course with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), an organization that teaches leadership and outdoor skills in wilderness areas all around the world.
In early September, I set sail. I explored the North Island for my first week, where I stayed with 2008 NSC staff member Bobby Gordon – I also visited Brad Holland and Richard Roberts in Australia after the course – and then headed to the South Island. Course breakdown: 24 days mountaineering, 20 days canoeing, and 25 days hiking.
When I tell people that I “studied” while backpacking in New Zealand, many think that I’m exaggerating. But, the “S” in NOLS is not an accident. Our instructors taught us classes on wilderness first aid and risk management, which we practiced on the trail, as well as communication skills and how to create a high-functioning group. It reminded me of camp, with more girls and fewer showers. Below are a few valuable things that I learned on each section in the wilderness:
Mountaineering: You cannot understand anything until you examine it closely. We can see the summit, but that does not mean that it is close and it does not mean that getting there will be easy. Let’s get there before celebrating.
Canoeing: Stick with your decisions. Once you choose something, you will likely have to go through with it. The river only moves forward.
Hiking: Always know where you are. If you need to carry a map at all times, do it. Thinking constantly about your destination instead of your position distracts from the moment. Look up.
We left the mountains with all sorts of new knowledge, and – most importantly for North Star – stories. In 77 days, I slid on my butt down a 500-foot snow slope, chased my sleeping pad half a mile, paddled a canoe completely full of water without tipping, paddled a solo canoe down a huge rapid, hiked two kilometers in the wrong direction, nearly fell down a hill into a lake, and much, much more. Like camp, I have trouble describing it to anyone who was not there. Like camp, I will always remember the people that I met. Talking about how this adventure ended for me has been difficult, I think because it is far from finished.
-Jordan Reiff

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unearthing Some Great Pics

As you may or may not know, we've undertaken the process of converting all of NSC's photo albums to digital files. The intent... to preserve all of our pics and also to share them. We've posted some of the pics on Facebook, and at some point in the future, we'll be getting all of these pics online. We hope to create an online library of photos where people can not only see all of the old NSC pics and videos, but tag people in the pics. We want to create a virtual NSC museum so that whether you're in the Northwoods or hundreds of miles away, you can relive old camp memories.

This is obviously a cumbersome task and scanning thousands of pics is just one step. At times its more than a little tedious, but thankfully this step in the process is nearing an end. What makes this all worth while, though, is when I stumble upon some great pictures, some half a century old, some just a decade or two that elicit some great personal memories. Most recently I discovered some pics that are clearly from the early days of NSC. Some of these may actually pre-date North Star as there are post cards of the resort that was on the site of North Star. There are also some great shots of Lou and Renee. For everyone's enjoyment, I've uploaded these pics, about 75 of them, and created the following slide show. I hope you enjoy them.

We'll be sure to keep everyone updated as the virtual museum progresses.