North Star Camp for Boys

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cruiser Day, Zoomba, Glen's Game and More

It's been blue skies and sunny days here in the Northwoods, and we have been taking full advantage!

Tuesday was our first Cruiser Day of the summer. Cruiser Day is a cabin day, which typically falls each Tuesday at camp. It is a break from our normal routine where each cabin plans a full day of games and activities that they will do together. Each Cruiser Day starts with breakfast in bed. We follow that up by changing our sheets and sending out our laundry, and a community pickup, where each cabin takes responsibility for cleaning an area of camp.

From there it is up to each cabin what they will do that day. Some Cruiser Day favorites include tubing, visiting one of the resorts across the lake, scavenger hunts, slip and slides and more. Kim McCormack works hard to make sure each Cruiser Day is filled with special events for the campers. This week she set up a pie-eating contest for Cabin I-5, a Minute to Win It challenge, and a cookie baking class.

Each village also has a village cruiser day. This first week was the Junior Village Cruiser Day and our youngest guys spent the day at the water park, mini-golfing, and then they paid homage to the Northwoods culture by attending a Lumberjack show. The boys learned about the logging history of the region and also were entertained by yelling "Yo-Ho" to cheer on their favorite Lumberjack. Each camper was able to take a whirl with the big saw and became an official Junior Lumberjack.
Each Cruiser Day, every cabin cooks out their dinner over a fire. For the first cookout we made Tinfoil Surprise, a camp favorite. It's a combination of ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and topped with cheese. You wrap it up in Tin Foil, and the outcome is the delicious surprise! Dessert was the traditional yet scrumptious S'mores.

The Junior Village Cruiser Day ended with a cookout at Hayward Beach. But what made this cookout unique was the group of women in the middle of their Zoomba class in the parking lot. Our boys didn't miss a beat, and they started mirroring the steps in the background. Despite their inexperience at Zoomba, the Junior Village Campers and Counselors quickly figured out the steps and made sure to work off all the eating from that day with a good healthy workout. Before long, the Zoomba class had more than tripled in size and the boys were requesting that we add it as an option for a class at North Star!

Wednesday night we played one of North Star's favorite games - Glen's Game. During this game, the campers are trying to make their way into four different mystery zones around camp. Once they make it there, they get a stamp on their hand to signal their success. The challenge is that the counselors are chasing them! The campers and staff alike love the game.

This evening was our first game of Green-White All Camp Capture the Flag. It was a great game to cap off another great day at camp.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Green White Kickoff

Each summer, the whole camp is divided into two teams for our ongoing Green-White competition. Last night, we kicked off this summers events with our first ever Green-White Series. For evening program, the Village Directors planned an evening where each camper would take part in one of a series of events including riflery, soccer, climbing, basketball, tennis, kickball, floor hockey and football. But the games were only part of a great evening.
Both teams got dressed in their respective colors and before taking the field, they both prepared a cheer. With us, your teams spirit counts as much as anything. The advisors were painted up and led the camp with great enthusiasm.
Also part of the evening was a short discussion of North Star's philosophy on competition. We took some time to reiterate to the boys that while you do play to win the game, it is most important to be a good sport, a good teammate, and to remember that everyone on the field is your friend before, during, and after the game. We talked about being encouraging to both your teammates and to your competition in order to create an environment where everyone can play any game while getting better and having fun. Our staff have done a great job modeling this behavior for our campers and it really showed.
The Green-White fun continued 4th period on Monday with activities by village. The Green-White kickoff was a huge success and a great deal of fun.

Our first set of trips have now returned. Cabins S-1 and S-2 have each completed the Porcupine Mountain Hiking Trip and Cabin I-4 successfully traversed the Flambeau River. We are very proud of our explorers!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Weekend at North Star

In the rest of the world, the weekend brings days off from school and work. At camp, our routine is a little different. While days of rest are hard to come by at camp, Friday nights do bring a change of pace.

Every Friday Night, the whole camp gathers at the Council Ring for our Friday Nigh Service. These are values based campfires that involve stories, songs and readings in a beautiful setting (see below). The first one every summer is called the Friendship Fire. We take this first opportunity to recognize the importance of camp friendships. Relationships at camp are different. In a community that strives to be a safe place for kids to truly be themselves, the friendships that form are truly special.
We talked about the history of North Star dating back beyond the first summer in 1945. We took a moment to acknowledge camp's founders Lou and Renee Rosenblum and then the Lebby's for ensuring that such an environment exists. And we took a moment to celebrate the kind of relationships the have kept generations of North Star guys to keep coming back. Olly Cayless told a story about what it was about those camp friends that brought him back. And he quoted our own Ben Mizel as saying "North Star is where I can be the best version of myself."

Part of the Friendship Fire is appreciating the diversity of our camp community. A representative from each city goes up and throws in a "keylog" to represent the bond of friendship between their city and North Star. Before all is said and done, there are over 100 cities represented by our campers and staff, and it is very neat to hear them all spoken.

The weekend not only gives us Friday Night Services, but also two of our favorite traditional meals. Every Friday night we have a traditional dinner of roast beef and potato latkes. Every Saturday night we have a chicken barbeque and Martha's famous cinnamon bread. The food has been fantastic this year, and those weekend dinners are always something to look forward to.

Saturday also marked the start of our second set of activities. All of the boys completed their first set of projects on Friday and began a new set of activities today. This afternoon we had a great set of Wacky One Days and we finished off the day with an all-camp game of North Star Ball- our own variation of capture the flag. Cabin I-4 will return tomorrow from their trip on the Flambeau River becoming our first cabin to complete their camping trip this year. And I-3 will embark on their trip in the morning.

It has been a great first week and this weekend has been the icing on the cake!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting into the Groove

One of our goals at camp is to get campers active. While we have to spend our first full day doing things like swim tests and camper physicals, we make sure that everyone is active, playing games like continuous dodgeball and all camp capture the flag. We jump right into the full program on day two. The first night that our campers arrive they complete their activity requests, and less than 36 hours later, they're on the program climbing, waterskiing and playing. 

Day one of the activities was great. Inclement weather held off and we were able to get in a full morning of activities. We did have to go into a rainy day program in the afternoon, but we took advantage of that time to make sure all campers learned the basic North Star games like spoons, euchre and mafia. The evening was our staff introductory talent show. At North Star talent is pretty loosely defined, but our campers were more than a little bit entertained by skits, songs and other random performances. 

Today the sun was out and with the second day of our full program, our campers really start getting into a groove. Things become routine for new campers and everyone starts progressing on their first set of activities. Its so much fun to see a camper get up on skis for the first time or actually hit the target down on archery. Our evening program was a great night of field games, organized by several of our counselors. Camp was split into four groups and everyone rotated amongst four different games. For our campers, the games were just fun, but many of them had a deeper purpose. My favorite one was Alaskan Baseball, where two teams were pretty much running all over the field, but in the meantime, they were learning names of everyone else on their side. 

Over the last two days our staff has really helped get the summer off to a successful start. Organizing great evening activities is just the start. Making sure that campers are engaged and having fun on a rainy day can be challenging. Our counselors really stepped up! To say that we're proud and impressed with our staff is an understatement.

We also have four cabin groups out on trips. Our Pine and Manor cabins left yesterday bright and early for the Canadian wilderness. They hit the lakes of Quetico Provincial Park this morning. Cabins S-1 and S-2 left today for the Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The trips will continue with I-4 heading out on the Flambeau River tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Fun is Continuous!

Our first full day at camp was just that - Full! The rainy skies cleared up after breakfast and allowed us all the time we needed for physicals, swim tests, and the all-important games of Continuous Dodgeball. This game has truly become a staple of the first day at camp, where a whole village is out on the athletic fields playing an every-man-for-themselves version of dodgeball. The twist on the first day is that when you get somebody out, you have to go introduce yourself to that person. Between the candlelight ceremonies that took place last night, and the various activities throughout the day, this helped facilitate an environment whereby all the of the campers know the names of their fellow campers.

Continuous Dodgeball is more than just a technique for introductions. It is also an opportunity for the energy of the North Star community to be on full display. Campers and counselors alike were out there having a blast while trying their hardest and demonstrating great sportsmanship. Matty N, one of our J-1 counselors, came to play as "Captain Underpants" to encourage the campers to bring their enthusiasm. And it worked.

The next outlet for our staff's creativity came in the form of our Opening Banquet. The guys decided to dress up and celebrate the arrival of our campers with some good old fashion goofiness. As all of the campers entered the Lodge this evening for dinner, they were again greeted by a crowd of crazy and excited counselors. We have such a great group of campers here this summer, and we are so proud to welcome these guys (back) into the North Star family.
For evening program, we played our first game of All-Camp Capture the Flag! We start by dividing the whole camp into two teams, and then create flag circles on completely opposite ends of camp. We rang a bell and they were off. The whole camp was in high-gear in pursuit of the other teams flag. It was a great showdown, with 11-year-old Clarence W. bringing the flag across the line for the game winning point.

While the night was through then for most of our boys, our oldest group was preparing to leave for Canada. Tomorrow morning, they will take off on their 10-day journey through Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. They did some training today along with packing, and the group also gathered at Leb and Sue's house for a proper send-off. We talked about the significance of the trip and previewed just how much fun these guys are going to have. We're so excited for them and can't wait to hear the stories when they get back!

Monday, June 18, 2012

North Star Summer of 2012

The Summer of 2012 has officially begun! A full year's worth of preparations have led to today, and it still exceeded expectations. From the time we gathered in Chicago and the first flights arrived to Minneapolis, you could feel the excitement. There were a lot of boys running to the buses with big smiles on their faces, thrilled to meet new friends and old. It was great to see the returning campers sharing their favorite parts of camp with the new guys, and making sure they were excited to get to their "home away from home."

We pulled into camp to see the counselors jumping for joy. The staff have been arriving since late May and have been working hard to prepare the grounds, get trained in their specific activities areas, and, most importantly, to learn as much as possible in order to take great care of each of your sons. And they have done a great job. We have our highest number of returning staff in many years, and the new staff is a mature, compassionate and talented group that has fit in seamlessly. I am very proud of the staff that we have put together, and I know the boys are going to love them.

We gathered around the flagpole, and as we announced the cabins, the staff and campers went crazy. High fives, chest bumps and prepared shenanigans put a smile on everybody's face. The kids have now unpacked and new campers have been given a tour of camp. By the time they go to sleep tonight, they'll have played games with their cabins and met some of the other guys their age as well.

Dinner this evening will be burgers, fries, jello, salad and the ever present peanut butter and jelly. There will be vegetarian burgers available for those that prefer, and brownies for dessert. The food thus far has been amazing. Chefs Paddi and Briana, and our whole kitchen staff have quickly become camps most cheered camp celebrities.

Immediately following dinner, the campers will choose their first week's activities. Their counselors will be encouraging them not only to participate in the activities that they are already familiar with, but also to try out some new ones as well. The evening activities will be followed by the candlelight ceremonies, where each cabin will have a meeting led by their counselors. They will share their goals and expectations for the summer, while continuing to get to know one another. This will be the first of many cabin discussions that are an important part of the "team" building goals that we have for each cabin group, and helps develop the strong sense of community that we strive for at camp.

Tomorrow the kids will have a busy day as they get checked out by the medical staff, take a swim test and find time to play several games of dodgeball. Evening program tomorrow will be our first game of All-Camp Capture the Flag. First thing on Wednesday morning the boys will begin their first week of regular activities. Wednesday morning our oldest campers will leave for their Canadian adventure, where they will spend 10 days in the Canadian wilderness in Quetico Provincial Park. Wednesday evening will be the staff show, where our very talented group will be on display.

Throughout the summer, we'll be keeping you up to date by posting on our website at The news updates can be found on "Leb's Ramblings," (same name, new author) at It can also be found in the Media Room, which is in the Current Families section of the website. We will be utilizing Facebook and Twitter to let families know when there are new blog entries, summer pictures posted and other news bits. You can follow North Star on Facebook at and you can follow us on Twitter at

We post pictures online on a regular basis, and you can access those directly from your CampInTouch page. To access your CampInTouch page, go to and click "login" in the upper right hand corner. From there you can click on "Photos" to see those smiling faces. If you'd like to set up guest accounts for friends or family you can do that from your landing page by clicking on "Guest Accounts."

It is going to be a great summer!



Sunday, June 10, 2012


It was a beautiful day, and an even more beautiful night. The stars were out in their full glory in a way that you can only experience in the Northwoods. And the only better sight than the stars themselves was to see our staff coming together beneath them.

Many of our staff members have been here for various trainings such as lifeguarding, climbing, riflery and more. Thisgroup of child-oriented and skilled staff proved tonight that they can drink in the little moments too as they laid out under the stars. It didn't matter what country the guys were from, they could all agree on one thing: lying there under the stars was just Amazing. We are looking forward to an Amazing Summer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Keylog of 2012

In about an hour or two our quiet gathering on Spider Lake will begin to grow significantly. What is currently about a dozen or so grows by 15 as our trip leaders return from Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness Water Safety training. We'll also get about 10 staff rolling in to begin lifeguard training as well as several more members of our kitchen staff. Tomorrow an additional 15 or so will arrive. What was one table in our dining hall last night for dinner will become four.

Before we welcome all of these folks, we'd like to take a minute to throw in the first keylog of 2012. For those who don't know what a keylog is, during the summer, we have a Friday night service where, amongst other things, we take the opportunity to thank others. This is symbolized by throwing in a piece of wood that we call a keylog. The keylog is a tradition that many of the northwoods camp hold dearly. The area that we're located was well known for its role in the lumber industry. Lumberjacks would take down trees, float them in the river, down to the mill. At times, however, one log would get stuck, leading to a real logjam, stopping flow of logs down to the mill. One courageous lumberjack would have to go and log that started the jam. Unsticking the "key log" would fix the jam and get everything flowing downstream once again.

In recognition of our hard working crew that has spent the past several weeks getting camp ready, we throw in our first keylog of the summer. Tom Brokaw is our lead caretaker and he spends all year tirelessly working to make camp look amazing. He' was joined in the spring by Dorothy Briggs and Noah Lattin, our maintenance assistants. They're awesome! Greg Merckx, our driver, came up in May to help with the set-up process, and about a week or so ago, tripper Jason Mann came up early ahead of trip leader training. We've had others that have come in over the past week who have helped with the set-up, along with their other responsibility. This includes village directors Scott Goldberg and John Sheehan, Matt Sirles from the kitchen and new counselor Tyler Ray.

We can't believe how great camp looks ahead of our pre-camp orientation and we're truly thankful for all the hard work that has been put in to make it happen!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Dylan "DJ" Jacobs

Returning for summer number nine is Dylan Jacobs. After a few year absence he returned last summer and we're glad to have him back. DJ hails from Buffalo Grove, IL and returns this summer as a cabin counselor and waterfront instructor. 

He does a great job with our campers who have so much fun with him. DJ is currently a sophomore at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, where he is a computer science major and hopes one day to design apps and games.

More About Dylan:

Favorite TV show: Whitest Kids U Know

Best place you've ever traveled to: Aruba

sports team that you root for: White Sox

Favorite camp meal: Burgers

Favorite spot at camp: The Council Ring at sunset

Favorite all camp/special program to do at camp: Glenn's Game

earliest camp memory or notable camp memory: Cedar Rapids with cabin I-4

If you had a super hero power, what would it be: The ability to control time

Best Hanukkah present that you've ever gotten: My first guitar

Preferred chicken nugget dip: BBQ sauce

Friday, June 1, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Jose Hernandez

Jose Hernandez joins us for his first summer. Coming from Mexico City, he’s a student at Instituto Politecnico Nacional where he’s studying international business. One of his favorite jobs was working at Six Flags Mexico where he was in charge of operating roller coasters and providing safety rules to visitors.

Jose loves sports and has won national chess championships. He can look forward to Leb challenging him to a few games over the course of the summer. At camp Jose will be one of our kitchen assistants.

More About Jose

Favorite TV show: Dr. House

Best place you've ever traveled to:  Merida, Yucatan

Sports team(s) that you root for: "Pumas".- Soccer team from México

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply: I learned through the campleaders  program and I apply to learn about different cultures around the world, also to have a great expirience with Northstar.

What did you do last summer: I went to Oaxaca,México on vacations.

What noteworthy/menial/random job(s) have you previously held: I worked in Six Flags México

If you had a super hero power, what would it be: Teletransportation.

Best Christmas present that you've ever gotten: Last Christmas, cause i saw my sister after a long time.

Staff Spotlight: Noah Lattin

Last year we were in need for a maintenance assistant in the middle of the summer. Its not quite as easy to find a staff member with such short notice, often with the start date being "as soon as possible", but last year we more than lucked out when Noah Lattin responded to one of our ads. He's back for his second summer assisting our head caretaker.

Noah comes from a family of 16, so he's used to being around people. He spent the last year working with Mennonite Disaster Services and spent time in North Dakota and New Orleans helping rebuild areas that were in need. He's a hard worker and we're thrilled to have him on our staff!

More About Noah:

Favorite tv show: Monk

Best place you've ever traveled to: New Orleans LA or Pantego NC

Sports team that you root for: I don't really get into sports, but probably the Packers

Favorite camp meal: Omelets 2 order

Favorite spot at camp: Swim Point

Favorite all camp/special program to do at camp: Not sure yet, give me a couple more years [;)]

earliest camp memory or notable camp memory: Driving through the front and hoping the interview would go well

If you had a super hero power, what would it be: Instant time travel

Best Christmas present that you've ever gotten: I'd probably have to say the PDA I got when I was about twelve

Preferred chicken nugget dip: BBQ

This could be the cast of a home improvement show!