North Star Camp for Boys

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oh Canada! We Welcome Back the Men of Pine Manor

What a difference ten days makes! At camp, we often use Fridays as benchmarks. On Fridays we come together as a camp in the evening, gather around the table for our traditional Friday night dinner of brisket and potato pancakes before we head to the Council Ring. Our campfire service is truly a time to reflect on the week past and take inventory of the accomplishes made. This Friday was even more meaningful as we were welcoming back our oldest campers who spent the last ten days in Canada.

The Canadian, as we call it, is something that campers think about throughout their entire career at North Star. As juniors they see the big, oldest campers head out and then return from this mysterious trip. As they get older, they learn more about the trip, hear the stories and then see their friends go on the Canadian. Then it's their turn.

Last Wednesday, we bid adieu to 30 campers, their counselors and trip leaders. Ten days ago our summer was barely 48 hours old and at 7am, cabins Pine, Manor and McCabin boarded a bus that took them through Minnesota, across the border in International Falls and to our outfitter in Atikokan, Ontario. As a Pine Manor camper, there is a wide range of emotions as you prepare and head off to Canada. There is a great deal of unknown, which spurs lots of nervousness and a whole range of emotions.

Each trip is filled with stories. As the campers piled out of the bus tonight, we heard about amazing campsites with tremendous views of stars. We heard about catching some of the biggest fish that they ever saw. We heard about tough portages, rough mosquitoes and weather that didn't always cooperate. And we also heard about how during these tough times, the cabins pulled together, people stepped up, and memories were made.

Yesterday we welcomed back the Men of Pine Manor, who emerged more confident and self assured after their trip to Canada. Each year the trip returns and the campers are clearly grown. Their demeanor is more confident. Having them back at camp also adds a great spirit and some great role models for our younger campers to look up to. 

We hope to share some of the Canadian stories over the coming weeks!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Weekends are a holiday we don't observe

Wherever you are reading this, it may have been a relaxing summer weekend, but at North Star weekends are a holiday we do not observe. The first full weekend at North Star was jam-packed and kicked off Friday evening with a traditional Friendship Fire. For the first time in the 2014 summer, campers and counselors gathered at our beautiful Council Ring.
During the service, counselor Danny Verb gave a great sermonette that discussed his deep bonds of friendship that began when he was a young camper and have since morphed into his adulthood. Andy shared the origin story of the land that camp now occupies and Leb provided a wonderful musical selection. The Friendship Fire provided everyone with a great opportunity to reflect and appreciate the first week as well as the deep bonds of friendship that begin and grow at North Star.

The weekend continued with a BBQ cookout on Saturday evening. Campers and counselors were treated to grilled BBQ chicken, rice pilaf, veggies and world famous cinnamon bread, nicknamed “Martha’s Bread” after a previous camp cook. After dinner, campers participated in a rousing game of North Star Ball. North Star Ball is similar to traditional Capture the Flag but instead of trying to get just one flag across the midway line, players must coordinate the capture of four different balls together.

On Sunday, the cabins of S1 and S2 returned from their five-day, Superior Trail hiking and camping trip. Both campers and staff returned a little dirtier but with big grins on their faces. Then in the evening we kicked off this summers Green-White events with our first 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, football, climbing, basketball, tennis, four square, floor hockey and more. 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.
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.

Hundreds of miles away in Evanston, Illinois, Senior Village Director Andy Rodheim, had an exciting and monumental weekend away from camp. Andy went back to Northwestern University for his graduation ceremony where he was recognized on several fronts. This 12-year North Star man graduated with honors and was also named the Greek Man of the Year for his leadership on campus. We are incredibly proud of Rodheim and we look forward to hearing about his future endeavors at Northwestern University law school.

Overall, it was a great first weekend and we cannot wait to see what is in store for the week ahead.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Activities Get Rolling

A lot of things have happened since the campers arrived at 4:35pm on Monday afternoon. Swim tests and physicals are a necessity. We also want the campers being active and learning fun new games like continuous dodgeball, tush ball and tetherball. As the campers go through the Tuesday procedures, we're hard at work getting the program ready. We take camper requests the evening they get here and then spend the day on Tuesday scheduling each camper into what they're going to do the first week.

Just after breakfast on Wednesday, campers received their first schedules of the summer and after a quick cabin clean-up, they're out on the fields, lake and courts. We don't waste any time here, not just because every moment at camp is precious, but it's vital to get the campers in to a routine. Moreover, for campers that are still getting adjusted to life at camp, getting into the program finds them learning new skills, having success on the program and perhaps most importantly, having fun.

Walking around camp on the first day of camp is a realization of lots of great planning and hard work. We're able to see program areas that have been set-up in action. We see great staff members who put their activity skills to work, teaching in new and unique ways. We get more confirmation how awesome our counselors are when they run a phenomenal period of soccer or swimming for the first period. Having our campers finally partake in activities after ten months off just makes things seem all that much more right at camp. (Read more about the schedule of a typical day on the website -

Our day was actually started early as cabins Pine, Manor and McCabin departed at 7am for a ride to Atikokan, Ontario, where they will spend the night at our outfitter before they head into Quetico Provincial Park for nine days. Cabins S1 and S2 also headed off on a five day hiking trip on the Superior Trail in Minnesota. We also had a great 4th period slate of challenge games. We heard some new and unique challenges during announcements, which is always fun. We ended the day with our staff show, where our staff display their variety of talents as we introduce them to our campers. The 2014 staff show was full of energy and enthusiasm and our campers really got into the different skits and songs offered up by the staff.

There's little time to rest as Thursday promises more great fun and adventure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Bright Sunshiny 1st Day

We could not have asked for a better day for our first full day. It was 82 and sunny for a day that was jam-packed with  physicals, swim tests, and the all-important games of Continuous Dodgeball. The dodgeball serves to both build the excitement around camp and as a game of introductions, as you have to introduce yourself to anyone you knock out. The staff jump right in with the campers and provide a great example of what it means to have fun at North Star.

They continue to set that example throughout the day. The next outlet for our staff's energy 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.

While the night was through then for most of our boys, our oldest boys were preparing to leave on their trips. S-1 and S-2 are leaving in the morning for to hike the Superior Hiking Trail, and Pine, Manor and McCabin are leaving 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 Andy and Vickie'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!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Summer of 2014 Begins!

North Star Camp's 70th summer is underway! In 1945, North Star was founded by Lou and Renee Rosenblum to create a safe place for boys to grow, play, learn and develop lifelong friendships. Seventy years later, we are proud to see this community as strong as ever.
It was easy to see as the campers boarded the buses, so excited to get up to camp. It was easy to hear on the buses as the returning campers told tales of camp to the new guys, and then they all joined in singing all of the words to Frozen. And it was easy to feel with the welcome the campers received from the staff as they jumped and cheered to build the excitement.

The staff have been arriving over the course of the last few weeks to help get camp looking beautiful, receive their various specialty trainings, and undergo our counselor orientation. This staff is our biggest ever and loaded with a great deal of experience. We have 25 people who have been at camp for ten years or longer. That group includes nine guys celebrating their Big 10s this years, Dan commemorating his 30th summer, and Leb and Sue who have each been at camp for more than forty years.

We've spent orientation working with them on turning each cabin into its own family where the boys can feel physically and emotionally safe, and have a blast at the same time. What has impressed me most about this group has been their desire to really comprehend what it takes to take great care of our campers. They ask meaningful questions, dig deeper into the why, and carry themselves with a true passion for child development. These guys are going to be great role models for your boys, and they showed everyone right away that they are going to be a ton of fun!

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 cabin list is attached. 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. There will be vegetarian burgers available for those that prefer, and Gluten free options for those that need it. And of course 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. They'll find some new things on that list this year, as we will officially be offering guitar lessons as an instructional activity. They will find a new ski boat at waterskiing, a new splashmat at swim point, and new canoes, tents and backpacks for their camping trips. 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. Wednesdaymorning our oldest campers will leave for their Canadian adventure, where they will spend 10 days in the Canadian wilderness in Quetico Provincial Park. Our 8th graders (we use the grade they just completed) will leave that day for five days on the Superior Hiking Trail. 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 2014 on our website 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 2014!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Simon Dinkin

Hey everyone, I'm Simon Dinkin and I'm returning to North Star for my seventh summer. I'm from from San Diego, CA, I'm finishing up my sophomore year at Torey Pines High School.  I recently went to La Paz, Mexico for Spring Break! We went to the beaches,snorkeled, and went fishing.  It was a blast!! I also started coaching a 2nd and 3rd grade Rec Basketball team.  This is my first year coaching and its been really exciting and fun teaching them new skills and working with the kids. 

As always I've been playing lots of soccer as well as focusing on school. I am counting down the days until camp and can not wait too be a CIT! Around camp you'll find me instructing althetics and dsic golf.

More about Simon

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?: 
- A friend, Water ,and a pillow

Favorite special program at camp
- UN Day

Your favorite TV or movie character
- Josh Peck, from Drake and Josh 

Your best memory of camp
- Cheering at camp after completing our 10 day trip to Canada.

Favorite Sports Teams
- Redskins,Wizards,Baltimore Orioles,Capitals

What would you choose for your last meal?
- Steak and Fries

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- Bald Eagle
Your two favorite books
- Lightning Thief,The Giver

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I play in Scrabble Tournaments.

How has camp impacted you? 
- Camp has had an extremely positive impact on me.I have made friends and experiences that will last a lifetime, and i look forward to making many more.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Lucas Kasle

The youngest of three siblings, Lucas Kasle will join his middle brother (his favorite brother, mentor and role model) on staff. A graduating senior, Lucas is currently at Nicolet H.S. in Glendale, WI. There he showed off his considerable athletic prowess as a member of the swimming and tennis teams. He's also a big reading aficionado, preferring historical autobiographies 18th and 19th century political leaders. Lucas will head out east in the fall, attending Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. He's excited to be a  Muhlenberg Mule!

This will be his 9th summer at North Star. At camp you'll find him instructing climbing, and swimming!

More about Lucas

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
-My brother Nick, a stuffed toy panda, and a toothbrush (I'm a big believer in good oral hygiene)

Favorite special program at camp
- The eco hunt

The Kasle Brothers
Your favorite TV or movie character
- The princess from Frozen

Your best memory of camp.
- Anything involving my brother, Nick

What would you choose for your last meal?
-  A buffet of ice cream

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- A seal

Your favorite book
- Campingly Yours by Thomas C. Adler

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I've recently taken up Mahjong

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Ben Rubin

Hi, my name is Ben Rubin and I am currently a Junior at Highland Park High School. With ACTs, college visits, and other standardized tests, this has been a pretty busy year for me. At school, I am involved in Congressional Debate, DECA, and my school's robotics team. [Side note addition: I placed first Internationally in DECA and first in Illinois in robotics. I don't know if that should be thrown in there or not.]

This will be my seventh summer at camp and my first one on staff.  As a camper, I spent the majority of my time windsurfing and sailing, which I hope to teach at camp. Additionally, I will be working on the camper musical. I am very excited to be a CIT this summer!

More about Ben

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- I'd like to think that I would be practical and bring a boat, water, and a machete so I could survive, but in reality I would probably bring trivial items like a phone, a sleeping bag, and a change of clothes.

Favorite special program at camp
- Espionage

Your favorite TV or movie character
- Batman (Christian Bale, not any of the ones from the 80s or Ben Affleck)

Your best memory of camp.
- College Days last year. Go Slippery Rocks!

What would you choose for your last meal?
- Once again, I would like to think that I would choose something classy like steak, but it would
probably be pizza or bacon.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- The Mantis Shrimp. Hands down the coolest animal. Ever.

Your two favorite books
- Looking for Alaska by John Green and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I am very good at Indian Leg Wrestling.

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp made me a much more independent and responsible person. I feel that I have learned how to handle difficult and challenging situations and I have made several lifelong friends.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Ronald Smith

Hey, I am Ronald Smith, from St Louis, MO. I'm finishing my sophomore year at John Burroughs High School. I love sports and the outdoors more  than anything. My favorite sport is football and at school I'm on the football and basketball team.

 I am a CIT this year and was a camper for three years before this. At camp you'll find me instructing athletics and archery.

More about Ronald

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
-  I would take a book, sleeping bag, and a basketball court w/ basketball.

Favorite special program at camp
- The Green-White marathon.
Your favorite TV or movie character
-  Steve Urkel from Family Matters.

Favorite Sports Teams
- My favorite sports team is the Miami Heat.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- My spirit animal is a lion.

Your two favorite books
- My favorite books were To Kill A Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp has opened my eyes to many opportunities to explore nature.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Philip Rasansky

Howdy! My name is Philip Rasansky, and I’m from Dallas, TX. This will be my 10th summer at camp (IT’S THE BIG TEN!!), and I am really excited to get back to the Northwoods! just graduated from Greenhill School a couple days ago, and I’ll be heading up to Dartmouth College next fall. I spend most of my time spending time with friends/family, doing school work, and playing sports (I’m on the varsity basketball and baseball teams). I am (or was, now that I’m an alum) also active in my school’s business club and peer mentoring program.

At camp I'll be instructing basketball, waterskiing and other athletics. 

More about Philip

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Umbrella, Lawn chair, and a full Harry Potter book set

Favorite special program at camp
- United Nations Day, Friday Night Services

Your favorite TV or movie character
- Tickle from the Discovery show “Moonshiners"

Your best memory of camp.
- Most memorable: Getting lost on the Canadian trip because the tripper let a friend of mine lead us with the map. Best memory: Beating my twin brother in the Green-White marathon when we were both captains

Favorite Sports Teams
- Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and anything UT Longhorns

What would you choose for your last meal?
- Tie between steak and pizza

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- A white bengal tiger

Your two favorite books
- A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah & Any of the Harry Potter books

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I can write in cursive backwards.

How has camp impacted you?
- This is a tough questions because I don’t think I can fit it all into a couple sentences. Overall, I think I am a more relaxed, confident person with a stronger sense of my values and morals because of all my years at North Star

Monday, June 2, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Jacob Byck

Jacob Byck returns to the North Star Staff. Hailing from Deerfield, IL, he's a junior at Deerfield High School. A big baseball fan and player, he's played travel baseball as well as on the DHS team. He's also active coaching and he started this year as an assistant baseball coach.

Jacob returns for his sixth summer at camp. He can be found on the athletic fields instructing our sporting activities.

 More about Jacob

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- North Star’s Cinnamon Rolls, North Star’s Bug Juice, and a sleeping bag.

Favorite special program at camp
- Espionage

Your favorite TV or movie character
- Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen

Your best memory of camp.
- Making great friends.

Favorite Sports Teams
- White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Michigan Wolverines
What would you choose for your last meal?
- Chicken Kiev

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- A Jaguar

Your two favorite books
- Honus & Me, Boy in the Striped Pajamas

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I can burp excessively.

How has camp impacted you?
I learned how to be responsible for myself, and made friends I’ll never forget.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Staff Spotlight - Ike Nierman

Camp is a family thing Ike Nierman. One of is brothers is on the NSC staff and another is a camper. He's also a 2nd generation NSC camper and staff. His dad Peter was also a camper and staff. Ike comes to camp from Wilmette, IL where he's finishing up his sophomore year at New Trier H.S.

At New Trier Ike does pole vault for the track team and in his free time he plays the bass guitar and hang out with friends. At camp he'll be instructing athletics and pathfinders.

More about Ike

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
-  My iPod for music, a journal and a camera

Favorite special program at camp
-  College Days

Your favorite TV or movie character
- Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Your best memory of camp.
- Too many to count, but on of the best was winning boil-water-boil during the Green-White marathon

Favorite Sports Teams
- Chicago Bulls, LA Clippers, Chicago White-Sox, And DAAA Bears

What would you choose for your last meal?
- Anything as long as it was followed by a Norske Nook Pie

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- A Dolphin, they’re super smart, but really different from humans, plus everyone loves dolphins

Your two favorite books
- Things Fall Apart, The Catcher In The Rye

A secret hobby or skill that you have?
- I can throw a Frisbee with extreme accuracy

How has camp impacted you?
- It made me learn how to treat others with a lot of respect and never to judge anyone without getting to know them first. Also made me learn that life can be tough but it will always get better, especially with