North Star Camp for Boys

Monday, June 24, 2013

Camp in the Words of a First Year Counselor

One of our first year counselors took some time to sit down and write a poem about camp. Zach isn't an English major... he's actually been majoring in engineering while on the wrestling team at Western New England University in Massachusetts. He's a football and pathfinders instructor for us and his poem really captures what we hope is the essence of camp.

This North Star Camp has changed my life
From sports and games to campfire nights
From campers here with cheerful smiles 
to all the friends I've made this while
and people outside just passing by
See a lake and trees and birds that fly
these passerbys though, miss whats here
Its not about the playful cheers
Its not about some guys we've met
or one silly tune we might forget
life here at camp is about true friends
a destiny of brothers that are here till the end
a loving home out here I've found
I now have family all around
and this one short poem just won't suffice
to show how much North Star has changed my life
- Zach Bantle, J1 Counselor 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Off to a Quick Start

From the time that the campers arrive on Monday afternoon until they start their first instructional activities, less than two days pass. Within about 42 hours, campers will step off a bus and then onto a football field, tennis court, fishing boat or any of our other activity areas. Its important for the campers to hit the ground running, and this is why the day that campers arrive, we make sure that there is some type of action for them to get out, run around, and have fun.

We also want to make sure that they start getting into the rhythm of the summer and get accustomed to a consistent program and schedule. Of course, before this happens we have to do things like swim tests and camper physicals, but on the first night, we get campers thinking about the cool stuff they get to do by having them complete their first set of activity requests. As we head into Friday, campers will be completing their first three-day activity set.

Beyond the main camp program, the last few days have been filled with action to make sure we jump start the summer of 2013. Tuesday night we played our first game of capture the flag for the summer. Wednesday morning we bid adieu to the Pine Manor campers (our oldest campers), who left for their nine-day trip to Quetico Provincial Park in Southern Ontario. We also sent two trips to the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as a river trip down the Flambeau. Wednesday was the first day of programming and evening program allowed us to introduce all of the great men and women that make camp run in our opening Staff Show.

Rain headed our way on Thursday, but if it had to rain, the timing was pretty good. We were able to get in all of our instructional periods before bringing the campers inside late in the afternoon. Our Junior and Intermediate village directors were able to come up with some fun games to get us to dinner, when it looked like we'd be able to resume outdoor programming. The weather had other ideas, however, and we had to come up with a great indoor evening program.

If we told you that we were able to create a fun filled night with lots of energy by having campers assemble puzzles, you'd thing that we were lying. Several years ago we bought about 20 jigsaw puzzles for a rainy day event. With the right build up, some fun competition, and the help of our tremendous staff, we had our first cabin puzzle challenge. Each cabin group got to choose a puzzle from our collection and they took on each other to see which cabin would be the first to complete their puzzle. Older cabins had to select from larger puzzles and we also threw in few curves. What resulted was an evening of part puzzle building, part dance party and a ton of fun.

The rainy day puzzle contest shows the importance of great staff as well as the importance of turning something fairly insignificant into a big deal. We could have handed out a bunch of puzzles, left out the fun announcements, crazy build-up and other random silliness, but the event would not have had nearly the same level of excitement and participation. Our staff were vital in both getting our campers into the contest and keeping the momentum flowing. Its pretty clear that we've got a special group of counselors!  Several cabins continued to try to complete their puzzles, even after the contest had ended. All of this was proof that at camp, you can turn something as basic as assembling a puzzle into a tremendously fun evening program.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Nowhere I'd Rather Be"

Today at camp we celebrated our first camp birthday of the Summer of 2013. Jacob B stood on the chair in the dining hall and was serenaded by the our traditional, unique birthday songs. After he blew out the candle in his cake, I made my usual blowing-out-the-candles joke, "We're all still here." Jacob's response, in his 7th summer and first as a counselor, was quick to turn my joke into a great moment.
There is nowhere I'd rather be.
The dining hall agreed! That was just dinner on our first full day of camp, which was no regular dinner. It was our our Opening Banquet, in which all of the campers are welcomed into the dining hall by a full staff of guys dressed up in ridiculous costumes and cheering with excitement. 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.

Our first full day at camp came with perfect weather. After a chilly night, we had a beautiful day in the upper 70s with the sun shining. It was perfect for a day of 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.

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.

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.

It is always amazing to send off these boys on their Canadian trip. It is a moment that they have been working towards for as long as seven years as campers. In this group, we have seven guys whose fathers also went on the Canadian trip. And some of us old-timers shared stories of Canadians past, it is always fun to think how the nervous energy of the group will be transformed into hard work and teamwork while they're on their trip, and finally transformed into confidence and poise when they return with a knowledge of what they completed. We'll see them in 10 days!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Summer of 2013 is Underway!

The Summer of 2013 is finally here! The day we have all been waiting for and, more importantly, the campers we have all been waiting for have arrived. The buses were filled with excitement for camp, and that was before the boys starting eating their candy. In addition to hearing about all of the incredible things that our boys have done over the offseason, one of my favorite parts of the bus ride is listening to the returning campers explain to the first timers every little detail of what they are about to experience. Between that and everybody joining in and singing songs, I could already feel the sense of community building on the bus!

We pulled into camp to see the counselors jumping around like crazy. 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 your sons. And they have done a great job. We did an exercise during orientation where I asked the staff what they were going to do as role models for the campers this summer. Here's what they came up with:
•  Treat others how you want to be treated
•  Smile as much as possible
•  Say "hi" to everyone you see
•  Lead by example
•  Be open minded
•  Try new things
•  Make the best out of everything
•  Encourage everyone to find their voice
•  Praise uniqueness
•  Don’t Judge
•  Don't let others' judgments matter
•  Find the campers’ interests
•  Help campers find their own interest
•  Acknowledge anything is possible
•  Be supportive
•  Keep things in perspective
•  Have fun in un-fun situations
•  Be 100% committed
•  Demonstrate that it's okay to fail
•  Be the best you can
•  Have high expectations and help the campers reach them
•  Praise good behavior
•  Be Selfless
•  Teach problem solving
•  Handle defeat well
•  Handle success well
•  Have views from different perspectives
•  Express your hopes and dreams
•  Work towards your hopes and dreams

That's a pretty impressive list. Not only are these guys going to be great role models, they demonstrated right out of the gate that they are going to be a ton of fun as well.

Straight off the bus 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 Sun Butter and jelly (no more Peanut Butter). There will be vegetarian burgers available for those that prefer, and brownies for dessert.

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, choose their 1st week's schedule 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.


From here on out, you can follow along with the summer of 2013 on our website at We will also be posting updates on Facebook at and 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."

Thank you for trusting us with your boys. We can't wait for the rest of a great Summer of 2013!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Jacob Lehr

Jacob Lehr heads to camp after spending the year in LA. He just finished his freshman year at the University of Southern California, Jacob hails from Omaha, Nebraska. He's undecided on a major, trying Civil/Environmental Engineering next semester. Jacob is involved in Troy Camp, (mentoring, tutoring) and  just finished a one-week sleepover camp for kids in local schools. He's also involved in SC Outfitters, an outdoors club, and will be leading trips as a guide next year.

At camp he can usually be found on the tennis courts and he’ll also do his share of golf instruction and waterfront activities this summer as well. We’re thrilled to have Jacob back for summer number nine!

More About Jacob

Favorite Tombstone pizza type: Hawaiian

Favorite project at camp (that you don’t necessarily instruct): Logrolling

Your three favorite movies of all time: Anchorman, Into the Wild, Lion King

Preferred wanegan offering: Pop Wanegan (Squirt!)

Best evening program at camp: North Star Ball

Favorite cartoon character: Marvin the Martian

Favorite camp (card) game: ERS (Egyptian Rat Screw)

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?: Bear Grylls and Thomas Jefferson

What is your dream job: Professional Table Tennis Player

A little known fact about yourself: I used to be into Karate.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Lucas Kasle

Lucas Kasle is a resident of River Hills, WI, just outside of Milwaukee. He just completed his junior year at Nicolet High School. He participated in swim team and got 3rd in conference. On his school's tennis team he got 5th in conference. He went to London and tried to visit Olly, but he was busy.

This will be his eighth summer at camp and he’s looking forward to instructing athletics and climbing. A certified life guard, he is also looking forward to spending some time on the water front. He's been working hard on my Egyptian rat-screw techniques getting ready for the summer.

More About Lucas

Favorite Tombstone pizza type: Cheese

Favorite project at camp (that you don’t necessarily instruct): Rock climbing

Your three favorite movies of all time: Avengers, Toy story, Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus

Preferred wanegan offering: Reeses cups

Best evening program at camp: Glen’s Game

Favorite cartoon character: Avatar Aang from Avatar the Last Airbender

Favorite camp (card) game: Euchre

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?: Steven Colber and John Stewart

What is your dream job: Professional ice cream taster

A little known fact about yourself: Got second place in a competition where you had to balance a spoon on your nose. Sorry Nick.

The Kasle Brothers

Staff Spotlight - Benji Pfeffer

Hello all! This year is and was my Junior year at Deerfield High School, in Deerfield IL. In the winter I was on the Men's Swimming and Diving team. Since it's junior year i also spent a lot of my time preparing and taking the ACT. In the spring, i played for the Mens Varsity Water Polo team. We had a hard fought season and I love the sport. 

It was a fast but great school year. I took an investing and photography class in school, while still keeping my core classes. In my free time i watched sports games like Bulls, Bears, or Blackhawks, and playing basketball and Ultimate frisbee with friends. For spring break, I visited many colleges around the midwest and south. It was a fun time this year but now I'm ready to make this summer even greater!

More About Benji

Favorite Tombstone pizza type
: Supreme Pizza

Favorite project at camp (that you don’t necessarily instruct): Disc Golf

Your three favorite movies of all time: The Hurt Locker, Wall-E and The Dark Knight

Preferred wanegan offering: Kit-Kat

Best evening program at camp: Definitely Glens Game, nothing better

Favorite cartoon character: Jake the dog

Favorite camp (card) game: Egyptian Rat Screw

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?: Shaq and Charles Barkley, entertainment and a big meal

What is your dream job: GM of a Sports Franchise

A little known fact about yourself: I have a great sense of humor 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Caleb Brown

My name is Caleb Brown. I was born and bred in Columbia, South Carolina, but now currently reside in Rock Hill South Carolina and attend Winthrop University. Most recently I have been involved in a academic internship with the Latin American Coalition. The Latin American Coalition is a non-profit organization, which primarily works with legal issue regarding immigration and differed action cases in the North Carolina. This internship has been very important to me because I have strongly considered applying to Law School. 

While also working I have found time to do a great deal of Hiking and exploring this year. Most recently I have been hiking and bouldering in Crowders Mountain State park just outside of Kings Mountain NC. Being a history major I spend a lot of time visiting historical sites around South Carolina. Most recently I have traveled to Cow Pens and old revolutionary war battlefield in the upstate of South Carolina. I have also spent my first few weeks of summer traveling down to the coast of Carolina spending time in both the Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach), and Charleston visiting family and friends. 

With the summer heat and humidity falling on Carolina it has become prime time for fishing, and eating seafood. The past few weeks I have boiled Carolina Blue Crab, and grilled shrimp on the open range. I always enjoy the first few weeks of summer in the South Carolina because all of the tourist flock to the coast, and I have the opportunity to help my uncle tend to his restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC. I will be returning to Winthrop University this August to complete my senior year. Upon graduation in May I intend to hike the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine, and then if all goes according to plan start graduate studies in Fall of 2015.

More About Caleb

Your three favorite movies of all time: My favorite movie of all time is the "Lion King" I love the dynamic dialogue, amazing musical pieces, and most importantly the bond shared between Simba and Mustapha "Father and Son" As for other movies I am also a great fan of the King's Speech, and Star Trek into Darkness. I thoroughly enjoyed the King's Speech because it showed a mans adversity when dealing with public criticism, while being in the spotlight! I love Star Trek because I enjoy Science Fiction stories and space travel. In my dream world "Star-Fleet" would exists, and I would be standing on the bridge of the U.S.S Enterprise right next to Captain Kirk!

What is your dream job: My goal in life is to start my own non-profit, which would bring sustainable living, and musical instruments to disenfranchised youth around the world. However; if I had to work for any company or organization I would love to be a United Nations adviser and Peace Keeper. I have many friends who have traveled through and come from other nations around the world, which are not as fortunate to have the freedoms we do in the United States. To make a long story short I essentially want to work a job where I come home after a long days work knowing that I helped improve someone's quality of life.

Best place you’ve ever traveled to
: This is a toss up between Paris France, London United Kingdom, and Acadia National park in Maine. Being a history buff I loved slowly pacing through the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles (Paris France) Versailles is filled with diplomatic history, and has been the site of many treaties regarding international conflicts. I thoroughly enjoyed my travels through London because they allowed me to visit the "Tower of London" Lastly I enjoyed my travels through Acadia, Maine because I had never seen such beautiful natural formations. Backpacking and hammocking under the stars in Acadia Maine to the sound of ocean waves crashing against monstrous sea cliffs was the most energizing sleep I have ever had in my life.

Favorite cartoon character: My favorite cartoon character is "Jerry" from "Tom and Jerry" I have always liked Jerry because he goes to prove that no matter how much bigger your opponent is than you with a clever plan, and the appropriate execution one can always outwit their opponent.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?:
I would love to have lunch with Franklin Delano Roosevelt simply to discus politics, and grasp a firmer understanding of what life was like in the "Great Depression" I would also love to sit down and have a chat with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack to brush up on my singing skills, and suave appearance.

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?: I learned about North Star after applying to another camp in Minnesota. The other camp did not have any openings, so fortunately they passed my information on to North Star. When Dan and Andy contacted me and told me more about the summer program, I was excited about the opportunity of working with such a great camp ground and staff. I applied because, while Wisconsin is a long way from South Carolina my experience at North Star will allow me to understand the experience of growing and living in the Mid-west Great Lakes region of the United States.

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?:
Senatorial Page South Carolina State Senate. South Carolina DHEC Camp Burnt Gin A summer camp for Special Needs Children in South Carolina. Camp Kemo a summer program put on through the Childrens Hospital in Columbia South Carolina, which serves children with battling cancer and blood disorders. Camp Tapawingo a summer camp for girls in Sweden Maine.

What did you do last summer?: I worked at Camp Burnt Gin South Carolina's camp for children with special needs.

What, if any previous camp experiences have you had?:
I have all of the previous camp experience listed above as well as volunteer yearly with Palmetto Richland Health's Camp "New Horizons" a grief camp, which supports children who have lost a sibling to cancer of a blood disorder!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Ned Shashoua

Ned Shashoua is back for summer number eight. Ned spends the rest of the year in the warmer climate of Boca Raton, FL. There he’s a sophomore at Pine Crest School. Ned spends quite a bit of time on the athletic fields and courts at camp, with tennis and soccer amongst them. He’s a great tennis player and is on his school team. He’ll also be instructing other athletics and can be found on the waterfront from time to time.

More About Ned

Favorite Tombstone pizza type: cheese
Favorite project at camp (that you don’t necessarily instruct):
My favorite program at camp is waterskiing/wakeboarding

Your three favorite movies of all time:
Pulp Fiction, Anchorman, and The Godfather 

Preferred wanegan offering: My favorite wanegan option is and always will be Sour Skittles

Best evening program at camp
: Glenn’s Game

Favorite cartoon character: Scooby Doo

Favorite camp game: Apples to Apple

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?:  Jimi Hendrix and Will Ferrell. I know it’s a random combination but I feel like it would work out pretty well.

What is your dream job: snowboard instructor

A little known fact about yourself: I play guitar. I started about two years ago and really enjoy it. I’m looking forward to bringing my guitar with me to camp this summer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Joe Erdman

I feel very blessed to have just finished my sophomore year at Winona State University where I am majoring in Psychology. The two lives I live between home & school are far from the same. After 9 months of studying & socializing, I then made the trip 4 hours south to my hometown of Dousman, WI where work quickly begins to consume my life. If I'm not painting or staining houses I'm running fire calls. I realized this year I needed a break from it all. I'm always open to new things in life & welcoming new experiences, friends, & memories. North Star is my escape.

"You may not always end up where you thought you were going, But you will always end up where you were meant to be."

More About Joe

Your three favorite movies of all time
: Batman- The Dark Night, Goodwill Hunting and Remember the Titans

What is your dream job
: Filming for National Geographic in exotic/secluded areas around the world.

Best place you’ve ever traveled to
: Road trip to Colorado snowboarding with my one of my best friends for spring break.

Favorite cartoon character
: Spongebob

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?: Carrie Underwood (lunch date?) and my grandma, she passed away when I was young.
How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?: Dan introduced me to North Star camp while attending a college job fair. Nick Meyer made me excited to go! ;)

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?: 3-year active duty firefighter

What did you do last summer?: Exterior painting (hottest summer in over 50 years)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Chip Kass

Chip has been spending his year in school and working on plays for school. He appeared in Legally Blonde during the winter and was the Fight Captain for Cyrano de Bergerac in the spring. In the fall, he will be a senior at Highland Park High School, where he will be a Link Crew Leader and a P.E. leader, so, hopefully, he will get to have a couple North Star camper freshmen in his crew. 

He will also be a Producer for HPHS's Stunts, the student musical, in the fall and he encourages all of the NSC freshmen to audition. Chip will be spending first session at Stagedoor Manor, an acting camp in upstate New York, and returning to NSC for second session. This summer will be his 9th summer at NSC. Chip can't wait for camp can't wait to see everyone there!
More About Chip

Favorite Tombstone pizza type: Pepperoni

Favorite project at camp (that you don’t necessarily instruct): Sailing or Theatre Games

Your three favorite movies of all time: Avengers, The Usual Suspects & Moneyball

Preferred wanegan offering: Sour Skittles

Best evening program at camp: Camper Musical!!!

Favorite cartoon character: Do the Avengers count?

Favorite camp (card) game: ERS or Celebrity (even though its not a card game)

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be? Robert Downey Jr. and Joss Whedon

What is your dream job:
Camp Counselor

A little known fact about yourself:  (Not exactly little known but) is a relative of NSC (former and present) campers/counselors/owners Andy Shlensky, Josh Frost, Benji Friedman, Scotty Laner and his dad and uncle, Geoff and Ira Kass.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Staff Spotlight - Nich Zlevor

Nich Zlevor joins us for his first summer as a senior counselor and tennis & ecology instructor. A native of Racine, Wisconsin, he's lived all over the globe. His father works for SC Johnson and their family has spent time living in Japan as well as Dubai. After graduating from the American School of Dubai, he headed back to Wisconsin.

A student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Nich is triple majoring in History, African Languages  & Literature, and Environmental Studies. He's also a big tennis player, playing throughout high school, attending tennis camps and teaching private tennis lessons. He also tutors foreign exhcange students on campus. We're excited to have Nich joining our staff.

More About Nich
Your three favorite movies of all-time: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Zombieland, & National Lampoon’s Vacation
What is your dream job?: Economic and Social Development Officer at the United Nations
Best place you’ve ever traveled to: Beirut, Lebanon

Your favorite cartoon character: Scooby-Doo
If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be: George Harrison and Stephen Colbert

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?:  I learned about North Star through my university, and I applied because the camp looked like such a great time!
What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?: I have been a tennis instructor, but lately I have been interning at companies around the Middle East.

What did you do last summer?: I worked in Dubai for Chrysler Group and did a little bit of traveling around the region. Probably, the coolest thing I did was visiting the Petra site in Jordan.

What, if any previous camp experiences have you had?: I have attended summer tennis camps in the past, but this summer will be my first time ever as a counselor at one.