North Star Camp for Boys

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Summer of 2011 Updates

With spring fast approaching and summer just around the corner, we wanted to quickly update you on a few things.
Enrollment Update
We have been working very hard and travelling all over the country to find the world's best campers, and we are well on our way. Second session is filling up fast and we have limited availability remaining. If you are planning on coming and have not enrolled, please let us know immediately and complete the Online Registration.
If you know of anybody that might be interested in North Star, please contact us or complete the Referral Form. We appreciate all of your help and support!

Private Tennis Lessons and Forms
We are going to open up registration for private tennis lessons next week, which we make available on a first-come first-serve basis. The tennis registration will be available on your CampInTouch page, which you can login to right on the website. There you will find all of your required forms and other valuable information for the summer.  Be on the lookout for your forms email coming next week.

We are looking forward to a great summer!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2/21 - Presidents Day Info Sessionon U of IL Campus

Andy and I will be on the University of Illinois campus Monday Feb. 21st. We'll be in the Education Building from 1pm - 5pm, so if you or anyone you know is interested in joining the North Star staff as a counselor, wilderness trip leader, or one of our support staff positions, stop on by. There is no need to make an appointment... we'll have a table in the North lobby.

If you want to learn more about working at North Star, check out the "Working at North Star" section of our website. Some of the program areas that we're still looking to fill include waterskiing/wakeboarding, sailing, swimming, archery, and riflery (though if you're skilled in any of our other program areas, stop by).

We'll also be holding an evening get together with returning and former staff, which is a great time to meet some of our current U of I students who can tell you about working at North Star. If you're unable to stop by tomorrow but are interested in working at North Star, email to learn more.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ACA Nationals Trip Report #3

I know that the reports from the National Conference were quite gripping, so I wouldn't want to leave you without the final day report. We got in a few more educational sessions (and a few meaning one because I didn't want to wake up for the first 7:45am session, though Andy did). The conference wrapped up with a closing brunch that was highlighted by keynote speakers Kristina Ripatti and Tim Pearce. The married couple worked as officers for the Los Angeles Police Department's gang unit and in 2006 Ripatti was on a foot pursuit when she was shot. One bullet avoided her vest, leaving her paralyzed below the chest. In the ensuing years she not only dealt with the recovery and rehab, she trained on a hand cycle and was part of a four person ride from coast to coast. It was truly an inspirational story for us to end the conference on.

Since we were in San Diego already, Andy and I decided to spend an extra day in the sunny 75 degree weather. After the conference ended, we went over to Coronado Island with some of our friends from Camp Timberlane. We spent a few hours walking around the island, sitting outside the world famous Hotel del Coronado and just enjoyed the weather and the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, you can't go to San Diego without visiting the San Diego Zoo. Even though we only had 3 and a half hours, the trip did not disappoint. It was well worth it and we were lucky enough to be with a few friends, one of whom was also a veterinarian at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Tim made it a great visit. We were a little surprised when we were walking around at the zoo and saw a woman walking a dog on a leash... I mean who takes their dog on a walk through the zoo. We were even more surprised to then see a guy walking a cheetah on a leash. This was out in the open where the public was able to walk around. Well apparently, they regularly take the cheetahs for careful walks throughout the zoo. It also seems that the SD Zoo pairs cheetahs up with dogs and later we saw a different cheetah sleeping in his area right next to his dog pal.

After the zoo we headed back to our hotel, packed up, and headed to the airport. On the way we caught a bit of the Coronado Airshow, in honor of 100 years of naval aviation. We had a great time in San Diego, learning a lot at the conference, seeing our camp friends, and enjoying the weather and sites. Our travels continue this week to less glamorous locales. I'll head to Stevens Point WI tomorrow for the first of a four city trip which also includes La Crosse, WI, Bloomington, IN and West Lafayette, IN. Andy and Leb will also do some camper recruiting this week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ACA Nationals Trip Report #2

We continue to have a great time here in San Diego. After a great first day to the National Conference on Tuesday, Wednesday was packed with learning opportunities for us all. It started off with a great keynote from author and psychologist Michael Thompson. One of the most well respected experts on child behavior, Thompson believes so strongly in the power of summer camp that he has joined the board of the American Camp Association and is a regular speaker at our conferences. Thompson spoke on the decreasing opportunities that our nation's children have for unstructured play time and the importance of those activities in helping kids develop many life skills. Unstructured play time is a vital part of any camp program and something we strongly believe in. Check out some of Thompson's blog articles and keep an eye out for his upcoming book "Homesick and Happy".

Much of Wednesday was filled with educational breakout sessions. These are led by experts in the camp industry as well as by those in related fields. Leb, Sue, Andy and I went to sessions on topics like marketing, camper health, staffing issues and behavioral issues. One of my favorite parts of the conference happens on Wednesday... the opening of the ACA Exhibit Hall. Vendors from across the country travel to the conference to sell their products. We get hit up by folks telling us why we should buy their insurance ("sorry, we're really happy with our insurer"), how great their brand of sunscreen is ("yes, we know and we already buy it") and why we should buy our staff shirts from them ("Hey Leb, this is really awesome... can we triple our staff shirt budget this year?"). One of the things we did buy is what we're calling at the moment the Ubercrazy Ping Pong Table. Apparently there are like 30 different games that can be played on this table.

Much of the rest of Wednesday was spent socializing and networking with both old and new camp friends. We also went to more sessions and heard a very moving keynote speech from Joe Ehrmann. Erhmann played both college football as well as in the NFL and his story, including his work as a coach and youth minister was very powerful.

The conference ends today with a few more educational sessions and then a final brunch and keynote. Leb and Sue actually headed back to Tucson yesterday to help finish planning Garrett's wedding, which is just over a week away. Andy and I will spend an extra day in San Diego to enjoy the weather and see the sights. We need to get our fix of sunny days in the 70's as we both will travel quite a bit next week to places like Stevens Point, WI, Detroit, MI and West Lafayette, IN. We'll have a final brief wrap-up of our trip to San Diego which we're sure you'll be waiting anxiously for!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ACA Nationals Trip Report #1

Since we ask our campers to give trip reports after they get back from their canoe and hiking trips its only appropriate that we do the same. For those of you who don't know, every February the American Camp Association holds their annual conference, and for us all, its important to attend for a lot of reasons. The conference is a great source of continued education as there are both keynote speakers and individual breakout sessions on issues that help us make North Star a better place. The conference is also a great time for us to catch up with other camps, not only from across Wisconsin and the Midwest, but really the world as there is a great contingent of representatives from international camp attending.

The conference is also a lot of fun and it doesn't hurt that the 2011 ACA National Conference is in sunny San Diego. For Leb and Sue who live in Arizona, this may not be a big deal. For Andy and I, who left 20 inches of snow and sub zero temps in Chicago, its a nice break. Prior to the conference, Leb, Sue and Andy spent time in Phoenix and Los Angeles, meeting up with campers and alums at reunions in both cities. We'll have lots of news from both in our upcoming newsletter.

The conference actually kicked off with the shorter Association of Independant Camps conference. There were lots of great speakers, but there were two other hightlights... for Leb and Sue, it was watching the Packers top the Steelers at the AIC Superbowl Party (yes, that is Leb and Sue in Cheesehead hats). Andy happened to be in the great state of Texas cheering on the Packer in person. We also had a great time at the AIC Western themed banquet where Leb won "Mr Tombstone" at the cowboy themed dinner.

The AIC conference ended and the national conference kicked off on Tuesday. It started with a great keynote speech from Stanford professor and best selling author Chip Heath. We all then had our first set of breakout educational sessions before meeting up with camps from Illinois and Wisconsin at a section meeting. Conference day two kicks off at 8am and we'll report more from San Diego soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Keep on the Sunny Side...

We are debuting a new feature here at Leb's Rambling's, adding "Tennis" Mike Storms to our list of regular contributors. So go ahead and give a shout, read what Mike's jokes are all about...all about..all about...
Did you hear about the astrological shake-up? The stars shifting and changing astrological signs and all?
Well, I was so concerned I called my psychic and made an appointment for next week...she called back and left this message on my voicemail: "I'm sorry to have to cancel your appointment, Mike, but YOU're not going to be able to get there." !....She's good.......I paid the cancelation fee, she's that good!
Thanks Mike!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Blues in St. Louis

Road trip #1 continued this past weekend after a brief one day break. Andy and I headed down to St. Louis on Friday... an evening trip through Illinois. If you've ever driven from Chicago to St. Louis you probably know that its about as entertaining of a drive at night as it is during the day. The main purpose of our trip was to head to the St. Louis Summer Opportunities Fair. The fair was on Saturday the 29th and we had a great time talking to prospective campers about North Star.

At the fair we were visited by a few current and former camp folks. Camper Max Weiser hung out with us for a while and we must say that he does a better sales pitch than either of us. We also saw alums Howard Weiser (also Max's dad), Jesse Drapekin, Steve Simon and Mike "Moose" Jay, who was there to promote his camp, Camp Kamaji.

Following the fair, we had the chance to hang out with a few counselors from 2010. We headed to Lester's in Ladue, MO and hung out with Jordan Santo, Jon Kohl, Jon and Jordan Schack, and Jesse Drapekin. Since Sunday was Jon's birthday, we had to fete Jon with the NSC birthday song... and yes, Jon did thank the kitchen staff for his cake.

Later that evening we had the opportunity to get together with several of the camp directors/assistant directors who were in St. Louis for the camp fair. Amongst them were folks from Camp Timberlane, Kamaji, Birch Trail, Thunderbird, Chippewa for Boys (in Minnesota), Lincoln and Lake Hubert. We had a great time sitting around, sharing ideas, and of course, hearing each others ridiculous camp stories. A keylog to Shari Sigoloff and Michael Rawitscher for their hospitality.

Before heading back to Chicago on Sunday, we figured that we had to properly celebrate Jon Kohl's birthday... with a lunch at Pappy's Smokehouse. Neither Andy nor I had ever been to Pappy's, but Andy had been told by multiple people that it was a must stop. It didn't disappoint. Thumbs up from both of us, and we highly recommend the ribs. If you do go, be prepared to wait in line for quite some time, but its worth it!

The St. Louis trip added another 715 road miles, though Andy drove this time. Andy, Leb and Sue will travel to Phoenix on Thursday and LA on Saturday, before we all meet up in San Diego on Sunday for the ACA National Conference.