North Star Camp for Boys







Monday, June 29, 2015

Go Outside and Play!


This Sunday night we did something different. I have been learning a great deal about the importance of free play in the development of children and the tremendous decline in opportunities for our boys to experience self-directed, free play (see here, here or here). With that in mind, for the first time we had an Unorganized Free Period. The prompt was simple: Go Outside and Play.
The boys looked shocked. This is not something kids are used to hearing these days. In a world where their schedules are getting tighter and the stress levels are getting higher, this child-directed free play was an exciting, out of the box experience. There were two rules - 1) Everybody had to be outside, and 2) The counselors are to supervise for safety, not to play or organize.
The result was fantastic. We had everything from pickup games of basketball, tennis and floor hockey, to improv games, gaga, and medieval imagination games. Some boys were fishing off the dock and catching frogs, while others were playing gaga and newcombe. Campers of all ages were taking the lead and organizing activities. And the kids loved it.

The second part of our evening were Cabin Campfires. For 70 years, North Star has played a valuable role in the development of its campers. Our campers learn about themselves, become more comfortable in their own skin, discover meaningful relationships, along with countless other life lessons. One thing I recently realized is that most of our campers don't realize this until years later. So one of my goals for this summer was to help our boys better process their experience as it happens.
Much like our opening night candlelight ceremonies, these "cabin meetings" are an opportunity for open, honest communication and sharing. So every cabin took to their campsite, built a campfire, and began this fireside chat. The format was as follows:
1) Accomplishments - everyone should take a moment to recognize the things they have accomplished in this past week.
2) Compliments - a chance for cabinmates to praise the positive things they have seen in each other.
3) Personal Growth - a time for each person to consider a way in which they have grown or a lesson that they have learned in the past week
4) Discussion - an opportunity for the group to discuss issues, problems or challenges and work together to find solutions.
5) Reflection - a few dedicated minutes of time to ones self to think about how to better friend, cabinmate and camper in the coming week.
6) Goal Setting - to conclude with a tangible plan for the week ahead with both individual and group goals.
7) S'mores - how else could you end a campfire?

With both the Unorganized Free and the Cabin Campfires, we were upfront with the boys about why were doing what we were doing. Not only did they understand it, they appreciated it. We heard from many of our campers how nice it was to be able to have time like this, where they could just be kids in the woods. They felt empowered by the opportunity to set their own agenda, to be responsible for both their own fun and their own learning.
Going forward, this is going to be our Sunday night routine. We'll continue to adjust and adapt as we learn more, but it was immediately clear how valuable this was to our boys.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Friendship Fire


Tonight was our first Friday night of the summer, which marks our first Friday Night Service. Every Friday the whole camp gathers at the Council Ring (see below) for a values based campfire program. For 71 years at North Star, the first one has been the Friendship Fire.
When Lou and Renee Rosenblum founded North Star in 1945, they not only wanted to start a camp but also to create a place where boys could develop meaningful relationships with their fellow campers and counselors. In addition to sharing the history of North Star, we talk about how to treat one another at camp and how it is different from the rest of the world.
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.
In addition to the keylogs, we had some stories, songs and readings. Sam Bricker gave a great sermonette about the significance of the North Star family in his own life. Mike Storms played "Let the Rest of the World Go By," which was a favorite of Lou and Renee. There were more readings, stories and songs that made for a beautiful evening.
But the real beauty will be in the friendships that continue to develop over the rest of the 2015 summer.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The True Significance of Nine Days in Canada


Tonight, in Southern Ontario, 24 campers, four counselors and two trip leaders are spending their first night in Quetico Provincial Park after their first day of paddling, portaging and exploring one of the great wilderness paddling areas in North America. The Canadian canoe trip has become one of the hallmark moments in our camper's career at North Star. So when our Pine Manor campers loaded a bus and headed to Canoe Canada Outfitters on Wednesday, it wasn't just about the preparation done over the past weeks and even months that were coming to fruition, it was the product of each camper's years at North Star.

When campers come to North Star, they are going to experience a wide variety of things. One of them is taking a wilderness trip with their cabin mates, counselors and a wilderness trip leader. For a camper in Junior 1, that trip will be a two day paddle down the mighty Namekagon River. The trip is meant to expose our campers to the basics of an outdoor trip and give them an initial taste of what it means to go camping. They'll sleep in tents, make pita pizzas on the campfire, and begin plying their paddling and tent building skills. Under the watchful eye of trip leaders certified as Wilderness First Responders, campers are able to begin exploring not only the wonders of nature, but they experience how they themselves fit into the outdoor world. 

As campers progress at North Star, they move through the tripping program. Each trip builds off the previous one and leads to the next. Campers go from the Mighty Nam to the St. Croix River. They'll paddle the Brule and Flambeau and hike places like The Superior Trail in Minnesota. Each trip poses new physical challenges as the rivers become more advanced and the trips themselves become longer. These challenges are all done as a group.
Trips aren't always easy. Weather, paddling conditions and group dynamics are just a few of the elements that will test our groups. It is within those very conditions that our campers grow. The true test isn't in being the best paddler or carrying the heaviest pack, but in how they respond to the challenges that a wilderness trip throws at them. We've come to appreciate the term Type II fun, but it truly is amazing when campers return from the wilderness and focus on the challenges of their trip not in a negative way, but with stories that make them feel like conquering heroes. They faced challenges head on and while it may not have been fun in the moment, they're able to recall how they got through it. More than that, however, is the added sense of self achievement and confidence through their new found strength.

Perhaps the most important part of our trips program is the fact that campers are taking on these challenges alongside their cabinmates and counselors. Often times, cabin groups will go into a trip with various issues and dynamics, but after spending ta handful of days on the river and in tents, groups work together and individuals get a better understanding of each other. And with many of our campers, they will move up, summer after summer with individual and groups of friends, making that trip experience even deeper and more profound.
So, tonight as our Pine Manor campers end day one of the Canadian, they are having an experience that is a true culmination of their NSC careers. They are joined in spirit as well as real envy by a legion of NSC alumni who themselves completed the very same trip and have vivid memories of their nine days in Quetico. We eagerly await their return in just over a week and look forward to hearing their stories and seeing their obvious growth...and ultimately passing that torch to future Pine Manor campers.

Pre-Camp 2015


While most of the days during orientation are spent training hard, we still manage to have a lot of fun too!

Thanks to Derrick Morrin for putting this together.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

You Can't Beat This!


video
We couldn't ask for much more than we had today! It was a perfect day in the Northwoods - 80 degrees and sunshine. And when a day includes arriving at dinner like this, it's pretty hard to beat.

Before we get into our regular programming tomorrow, we first had to take care of a little business today. Each camper today went through the Camp Advanced Swim Test and a health check, and more importantly spent the day getting more familiarized with his cabin, his village and the staff.

Each village took part in a game of continuous dodgeball, a first day tradition. While our guys absolutely love dodgeball of any sort, on the first day it comes with a twist: if you get somebody out, you have to introduce yourself. (You are in a "safety zone" while you are in the process of the introduction.) With the help of the candlelight ceremony and some other games yesterday, the campers learned the names of everybody in their cabin. Today, with the help of this village activity, they start to learn the names of all the campers and staff in their village.

After an organized free period, it was time for our Opening Banquet Dinner. The counselors dress up in their most festive gear, which ranges from animal costumes to Sue's old dresses, and act as waiters for their cabins. We chowed down on a delicious meal of Caesar Salad, spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini and garlic bread. And for dessert, our famous "Dirt and Worms." It's not what it sounds like - but rather a vanilla pudding with crushed up Oreos and gummy worms inside. It's delicious!

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 Andy and Vickie's house for a proper send-off. We talked about the significance of the trip and previewed the fun, growth and friendship that will stem from this trip. We're so excited for them and can't wait to hear the stories when they get back!

Monday, June 22, 2015

We Kickoff the Summer of 2015!


The campers have arrived safely and North Star’s 71st summer has officially begun! We arrived to sunshine and a warm and wild greeting from our staff. We gathered straight around the flagpole to announce the cabins. The campers and staff alike jumped for joy! And as we were about halfway through, it began to pour! We ran into Mike Hall, where the fun of the opening celebration continued. We finished announcing the Intermediate Village, and before we could even finish, the sun was again shining. The energy and enthusiasm carried us right back to the flagpole to announce the Senior Village cabins. The cabin list is attached.

The boys are now unpacking and new campers are being given a tour of camp. For the first time the boys are even excited to shower! The showerhouse has been renovated to include twice as many showers as before and tankless hot water heaters, to ensure that the campers never run out of hot water. 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 eavailable 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.

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.

The candlelight ceremony is a longtime camp tradition, but it fits right into one of our big goals this summer. We work very hard every year to create a safe (both physically and emotionally) and fun community where our boys are able to grow and develop. This year, I have asked the staff to pay particular attention to helping them process that development. From camp every summer, boys at North Star are building confidence, developing relationships, growing more mature and independent, and working to always do the right thing for the right reasons. Our parents always take note, but the campers often don’t realize it until much later. That is why we have added Sunday night cabin campfires for this year as a time to reflect as individuals on the week behind. It is why we are also adding a weekly “Unorganized Free period” to give the boys an opportunity to experience child-directed free play that is essential to their development. My goal is that every boy leaves camp more mindful of their own growth, strengths and values.

The secret is still that they will spend their days playing with each other and with great role models. 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. 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.

Thank you for trusting us with your boys!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Josh Lederman


I’m Josh Lederman, and I’m from Highland Park, Illinois. I just finished up my junior year at Chicagoland Jewish High School in Deerfield, Illinois. At CJHS I was on the golf team and was actively involved in DECA. My school was fortunate enough to compete in the North Suburban DECA competition for the third straight, where we had a successful showing as a team. In between the end of school and the days before camp, I am doing a lot of college research. I am looking at schools with strong communication programs because I want to be a sports broadcaster in the future. I also hope to play a couple rounds of golf before I head off to camp.

This will be my 8th summer at camp and 2nd on staff. At camp I will be instructing archery and some athletics. I am looking forward to a fun-filled summer and I am excited to see everyone when camp starts.

More about Josh

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- I would bring a satellite phone, a good book to read, and some sunscreen

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- I really enjoy sitting on the lodge steps for evening program announcements. It’s always amazing to watch the sun shine on Brewer’s Bay/

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- My grandfather and Vin Scully, my favorite baseball announcer

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- White Sox, Bears, Bulls, Northwestern University, Brewers

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- UN Day/Pow Wow Day

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would travel to Hawaii to learn how to surf, go on many snorkeling trips, and explore active volcanoes.

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Butterfingers

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- Tickets to the World Baseball Classic in Toronto

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp has had a tremendous impact on my life. As a shy and timid child, North Star provided me a place where I can be myself and have fun. I have learned to step outside of my comfort zone and try many new things that I could never do at home. Each year I learn something new about myself at camp and I am always looking forward to grow as an individual at camp. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Elliott Goldberg


Elliott Goldberg is back for summer number eight. Elliott lives in Wilmette Illinois with his parents, brothers Ike and Miles, sister Ella and dogs Kubbie and Lacy. They all recently went to California for a family trip, though we assume that Kubbie and Lacy didn't make the trip.

Elliott just finished his junior year at New Trier HS. His favorite subject is history. At New Trier, he's on the track team, where his main event is the 400M dash. At camp Elliott will be teaching riflery and waterskiing.

More about Elliott

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- I would bring a good book, as much water as I could carry and a solar powered fan.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- My favorite spot at camp is for sure the council ring at sunset.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Barack Obama and Patrick Kane

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would go to China. I would love to go to the great wall. The culture in China is so cool.

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Snickers Pie for sure!

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- Being able to come to camp as a camper 9 years ago!

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp has made me a better person overall. It has made me much more self aware and I am able to have had many experiences that i never would have had in an urban environment like camping and waterskiing. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Thomas Fies


Thomas Fies returns to North Star for his fifth summer, but his first summer on the NSC Staff. He just finished his sophomore year at Evanston Township High School. At ETHS he's on the swim team and plays waterpolo. He's also on the ultimate frisbee club.

Thomas will only be spending first session at camp this summer because he’s going to do some research trips. He's headed to Bonaire and Curacao. As part of the trip, he's going to be catching lizards, taking data on their measurements and comparing them all over the island to see how they’ve evolved differently.

More about Thomas

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- My favorite spot at camp is the council ring, although the main fire pit in the villa is a pretty close second.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- If I could have lunch with any two people, it would have to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kanye West.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- I root for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Bears.

What is your favorite program at camp?
- My favorite program at camp is disc golf because of how different it is, but I also love water skiing and playing speedball.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go back to Quetico Park in Canada and go fishing and camping.

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- I don't have a go-to pie at Norske Nook yet because I've only been there twice, but both times it has been amazing.

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- The best holiday gift I've ever gotten would be when I was 9 or 10 and addicted to Legos, and I got the Star Wars Death Star which was about 3,000 pieces and kept me busy for days.

How has camp impacted you?
- Finally, camp has impacted me in more ways than I thought possible. I've grown so much since my first day at camp, both physically and mentally, and most of the maturation I can trace back to being caused by North Star. It has given me more of a sense of responsibility and more self-esteem thanks to the incredibly welcoming environment, and I will always be grateful for the second home given to me by camp.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Sean Doyle


Sean Doyle joins the NSC staff for his 1st summer. Sean lives in Holland, Michigan, but he spends most of his time these days abroad. He and his wife teach English in other countries. Amongst the places he's taught are China, New Zealand and Brazil. After camp ends, he'll head to Japan to teach.

Sean was active in the outdoors in high school, but when he went to college, he didn't get to spend as much time camping. After college he took a NOLS course which reconnected him to the outdoors. Some of his favorite trips have been to Pictured Rocks in Michigan and the Boundary waters in Minnesota. Sean will be a great addition to the NSC trip staff.

More about Sean

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- I heard about it on the NOLS alumni email list. I really liked what I read about North Star.

What is your dream job
- To work in outdoor education.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Muhammad Ali, and Mahatma Gandhi

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would hike Patagonia.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Music, a fishing pole, and hot sauce

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Anything from Detroit, and Michigan State.

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?
- I sprayed powder in Prairie Dog holes to rid them of flees.

What did you do last summer?
- I taught English in Brazil.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- I have taken classes and worked multiple jobs in the outdoors. I went to camp when I was younger, and I worked a small camp last year in Brazil, which was a lot of fun. I think that camps are a great experience for everyone involved, and I can’t wait to work at North Star.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Sifiso Tawane



Sifiso Tawane comes all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa to spend his first summer at North Star. Despite being from South Africa, Sifiso has quite a bit of camp experience. He has worked at Camp Sizanani of Global Camps Africa. Global Camps Africa provides "HIV/AIDS prevention education and training through high-impact residential and day camp experiences and continuing education, equipping young people with the life skills that will support them in becoming safe and productive adults who have hope for the future." The founder of Global Camps Africa is Phil Lilienthal, a former camp director from the US who is good friends with North Star and recommended Sifiso. Sifiso also spent last year working at a YMCA camp in Pennsylvnia and he wanted to get a chance to see how another camp works.

Sifiso finished college about a year ago and is hoping to become a social worker one day. At Camp Sizanani Sifiso was a swim instructor, and he'll teach swimming as well as archery. We're excited to have Sifiso join the North Star staff.

More about Sifiso

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- I learned about North Star from the core founder of Global Camps Africa, Phil Lilienthal and I applied because I would like to learn more about it myself.

What is your dream job
- My dream job is to be a Counselor.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- My great gran parents.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Amsterdam because it's amusing in a way.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Campus, food and water.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Barcelona

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?
- Working at Camp Sizanani under Global Camps Africa.

What did you do last summer?
- I worked at a camp named YMCA CAMP KRESGE situated in Pennsylvania  for three months.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- My life time experience I won't forget and appreciate is going to USA and I had the best summer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Ryan O'Hara


Ryan O'Hara will cross the Atlantic in a few days to join the NSC staff for his first summer at camp. A native of Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom, Ryan is currently a student Amersham And Wycombe College. He is a second year student and is currently studying music and performance. At college Ryan is in a band, but his career goals have moved more towards the professional side of things.

Ryan also has interest in film production. He's also an avid waterskiier and wakeboarder. He started when he was eight years old at a local club, but over the last few years he's served as an instructor. At camp Ryan will instruct waterski/wakeboarding as well as some climbing and we'll be sure to make good use of his musical talents.

More about Ryan

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- I found out about North Star through the summer job agency MakeMySummer. After learning more about North Star and the activities they offer for campers, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to work with them.

What is your dream job?
- I would love to be able to travel around the world as an independent film director. I spend a lot of my spare time filming action sports, gigs and music videos.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Devin Graham and Lenny Kravitz. Devin is an incredible videographer and really pushes the limits in his videos and Lenny Kravitz, well, it’s just Lenny Kravitz really..

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Some day I would love to go snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies either that or live on a lake somewhere warm (insert joke about English weather here)

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- A surfboard, a guitar and friends.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- This is new to me, ask me after camp and I may have chosen a team.

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?
- I once helped out on Silverstone Radio Station for the British Superbike Championship, that was pretty cool.

What did you do last summer?
- Mostly work, a few gigs, a festival and some time in France.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- I spent about two years with my local scouts group and I think we did a couple of scout camps a year. Then there was Reading Festival last summer but that made any bad camping experience look pleasant.

Staff Spotlight - Kim McCormack


Kim McCormack returns to North Star for her 17th summer. While her official role at camp is "program assistant", there really isn't a title that encapsulates all that Kim does. She's a big part of putting our daily program together, assisting in the program office with scheduling. She also helps out with special programs, assisting staff as they plan special events all summer long. Along with that, Kim oversees our horseback riding project.

During the off season, Kim is a middle school science teacher. A resident of the Denver suburb of Westminster, she teaches in Evergreen, Colorado. Kim has also been involved in taking groups of students to San Diego to for Seacamp. She's the wife of CIT Director Jeff and mother of Lake and Summer.


More about Kim

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Water, flint, and Jeff Probst (maybe I could win $1,000,000)

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- Swim point on a hot afternoon

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- My mom and my brother

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- The home team or the underdog. This summer the y are one in the same ... Go Rockies!

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- Espionage

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Brazil, Italy, & Australia. I would relax and go wherever the moment took me.

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Cranberry Apple

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- I have no idea, but the thing that I cherish most about the holidays is time to be with family

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp gave me my family!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Jacob Lehr


While many of our college age staff have finished up school and have even had a few weeks to rest up, Jacob Lehr is still hard at work. Currently studying abroad in New Zealand and he's got finals up through the coming week. He'll fly directly from New Zealand at camp, just to be here in time for the start of our pre-camp orientation. Jacob's commitment is a great example to the entire NSC community!

Jacob is from from Omaha, Nebraska. When not studying in New Zealand, he's a student at the University of Southern California. He'll be entering his senior year there in the fall and he's studying economics and political philosophy. This will be summer #11 for at camp Jacob. He is one of our village directors and will instruct golf, windsurfing and some tennis.




More about Jacob

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Sunscreen, a water bottle, and a good disposition.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- The middle of Brewer’s Bay on a windsurf board.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Thomas Jefferson and Elon Musk

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Nebraska Cornhuskers, USC Trojans, Creighton Bluejays, and whatever team has Lebron James.

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- Commando Raid

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Patagonia to learn Spanish and climb some mountains.

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Raspberry-Peach Melba

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- New golf club

How has camp impacted you?
- I learned how to be myself, how to be a leader, gained a love for the outdoors, made some great friends, and learned to play speedball.



Friday, June 5, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Jeff McCormack


Well hi!  My name is Jeff McCormack and I am the CIT (Counselor In Training) Director and “disc golf guy” at North Star.  This will be my 20th summer on staff.  In my role as the CIT Director, I support the CITs as they make the transition from camper to counselor.  As the disc golf guy, I head up the disc golf program and maintain the disc golf course (let me know if you see a wasp nest on the course…I’ll take care of it). 

 I hail from Westminster (a suburb of Denver), Colorado.  During the year I teach Special Education for 18-21 year old young adults with disabilities (I have the most amazing students!).  I’ve been married to Kim McCormack for 12 years and we have two children, Lake (10) and Summer (2).  For fun, my hobby of choice is disc golf. During the winter, a friend and I lead a weekly disc golf series called Winter Warriors that raises money for the Food Bank of the Rockies (this year we raised $15,000!).  My favorite disc golf course in the world is the North Star course and I can’t wait to get up there and play it (hopefully with many of you)!  Looking forward to seeing everybody very soon for the Summer of 2015!  

More about Jeff
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- It’s a given that I would want to have Kim, Lake and Summer there, soooooo I’m going to assume that they are stranded with me.  I would love to have an iPad (in a lifeproof case) with great LTE service and a solar charger, a portable disc golf basket with all of my discs and a yurt to live in.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- While it doesn't get more beautiful than sunset at the Council Ring, I'm going to go with the Hole #12 Tee Box on the NSC Disc Golf Course.  It's literally 10 feet from Clear Lake.  It's so calm, quiet and peaceful there, with usually a slight breeze to blow away the mosquitos. 

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- My Grandfather, Pete Nielsen, who passed away in 1992.  He was the best Grandpa a kid could ask for.  And Kim McCormack...just the two of us (that almost never happens!). 

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Big time Chicago Bears fan, but also a fan of the Denver Broncos as we live in Denver.

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- Pow Wow Day is my favorite day of special programming (the enthusiasm, the Staff Softball, the silent lunch, Brokaw’s meat roasting all day…just so many great things about PWD!) and the Green White/Egg Marathon is my favorite special program activity.  Is there anything more exciting than a close Boil Water Boil? 

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I've never been to Disneyland or Disney World, so it would be great to do that with the family some day.  I would also love to go on an all inclusive cruise (mostly for the endless food)! 

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Warm Pecan with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream...oh so good!

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- For Father's Day this year Kim got me a nights stay at a Disc Golf ranch in the Colorado mountains.  It was a very nice mini-vacation! 

How has camp impacted you?
- I owe so much of my current life to camp’s influence.  It has truly shaped so much of who I am.  For me camp is more than just a place and a set of activities, it’s my second family; my home away from home.  I call upon skills that I’ve developed at camp every single day of my career as a teacher.  Without camp, I may not have met my wife Kim and I wouldn’t have my children, Lake and Summer in my life.  I really can’t imagine what my life would be like had I not started working at North Star.  It truly changed…and created the life that I have today.



Staff Spotlight - Caroline Rockman


Caroline Rockman will join the North Star staff for her first summer. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, she'll be working in the Arts and Crafts. After graduating high school, she spent a gap year in Israel. There she studied Hebrew, Arabic and also curated an photography exhibit.

She just finished her first year at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she's studying film. She's also experienced in painting and photography. We're excited to have her put her skills to use in the NSC Arm and Hammer and also all around camp.

More about Caroline

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- This will be my brother's 12th summer at North Star. After seeing the impact camp had on him, applying was a no brainier.
What is your dream job
- A museum curator

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Eileen Erman and and René Magritte.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I'd like to go everywhere at least once, but right now I'd love to be in Jerusalem at my favorite cafe with my favorite people.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Sunscreen, a book, and my dog.
What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Chelsea football!

What did you do last summer?
- Worked at a film distribution firm and a documentary production company.
What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- I went to Birch Trail camp and Interlochen center for the Arts.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Patricio Gomez


Patricio Gomez joins the NSC staff for his first summer. A native of Colima, Mexico, he's studying engineering at the Monterrey Institute of Technology. He spent time when he was in 7th grade studying in Michigan, so the Midwest won't be an unknown for him.

Patricio has always enjoyed the outdoors. He's been involved with watersports since he was a kid, focusing on waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking and even scuba diving. He also went to camps himself as a kid, where he was able to ski, go horseback riding, and do other great outdoor activities. We're excited to have Patricio at camp as a cabin counselor and waterski/wakeboard instructor.

More about Patricio

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply? 
- Through an agency, Camp Staff MX.

What is your dream job?
- To be a F1 engineer.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be? 
- My grandfather and Sebastian Vettel.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I'd travel anywhere, every destination has great things to do. I'd do outdoors sports.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- A sailboat, a GPS and loads of food.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- I only follow one sport, F1, and I root for Red Bull.

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held? 
- No official jobs, only social service. I've helped at foster homes, schools for the disabled, missionary work, and so.

What did you do last summer?
- I went on a road trip form Colima to Chihuahua with my brother and sister. Totally recommend it.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- As I kid I used to go to camps as well as camping with my family. And about outdoors experiences, take a look at my Instagram https://instagram.com/laspatoaventuras/

Staff Spotlight - Leslie Thomas


Leslie Thomas will be spending his first summer at North Star. Leslie grew up in Oak Park, IL and just finished his sophomore year at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. There he's studying organizational communication. 

On campus Leslie is a pretty busy guy. He was involved in BSU's chapter of College Mentors for Kids. He was able to serve as a mentor for individuals between 1-5th grades, creating programming and working with kids from the local community. He's a big sports fan and at camp he'll instruct athletics as well as arts and crafts.

More about Leslie

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- I found out about North Star Camp on Campchannel.com and I applied for this position because I wanted to try something that I’ve never done before. I never been to camp and I want to know what it feels like to have this experience.

What is your dream job?
- My dream job is to start my own sports startup so fans can easily connect with their favorite athletes. Also, I would love to work in the field of sports and entertainment marketing. I’m a sports junkie so anything that has a connection with sports would make me happy!

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Kobe Bryant and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Two interesting guys that both knows how to entertain their audience!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would go to Italy because I love pizza and pasta and I studied Italian for three years in high school. There is so much art that can be explored in Italy!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- A blade, a whistle (so I can continuously call for help), and a water purifier.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- All Chicago sports. Enough said!

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?
- I was a bagger once. It’s not as easy as it looks.

What did you do last summer?
I spent my summer working the front desk at Ball State University. I was responsible for accommodating visitors who were coming for conferences or orientation.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
-  None whatsoever. I’m looking forward to the experience!

Staff Spotlight - Jami Shlensky


I'm Jami Shlensky and this summer will be my 3rd summer at North Star and I am glad to be back! I spent the year teaching 4th and 5th grade at Wilmot Elementary School in Deerfield, Illinois. This is the elementary school that I attended as a kid! It was fun to be back as a teacher, this time around!

At camp you can find me taking care of the littlest campers (Laney and Summer) or down at the waterski dock! I can't wait to see everyone there for a great summer!

More about Jami

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Sunscreen, a good book, and a water bottle.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- The ski dock!

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- John Legend and Oliver Rockman.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bulls

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- UN Day!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Thailand to ride an elephant!

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Definitely Butterfinger!

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- A karaoke machine!

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp has made me understand the importance of disconnecting and enjoying the world around us. It has taught me many values including teamwork, leadership, and cooperation. Camp has taught me to value and cherish the things in life that are most important. 



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Simon Dinkin


I'm Simon Dinkin and I'm excited to be back for my 8th summer at North Star. I'm finishing up my junior year at Torey Pines HS in San Diego, CA. Recently I have been busy with ACT and finals. I also took my AP tests in May. At school I enjoy my English and U.S history course. I also created a club this year called future entrepreneurs. In the club we talk about marketing and business strategies, and once a month an employee from a major business comes and talks to us about their company. 

As the summer approaches I have been spending more time at the beach playing volleyball, and bodysurfing. As for soccer, our High School team finished as the number 1 seed in San Diego despite unfortunately losing in the finals of playoffs. My club soccer season just ended with a loss in the round of 32 in National Cup.I look forward to heading up to Wisconsin and having another great summer at North Star!

More about Simon

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- I would bring a soccer ball, a close friend, hammock

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- Council Ring

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Lebron James, Martin Luther King Jr.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Baltimore Orioles,Washington Wizards,and the Redskins

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- My favorite special program is UN Day

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would go to Greece and go cliff jumping

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Raspberry Pie

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- The best gift I have ever gotten is my PS3

How has camp impacted you?
- Through camp I have made friendships that will last for a lifetime. I have also grown as a person through North Stars wilderness trips. North Star will always be a place that I can call home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Shannon McNamara


Shannon McNamara joins us for her first summer at North Star. Shannon is from the Chicago suburb of Crestwood and is currently a junior at the University of Illinois. There she's studying kineseology and is planning on becoming a Physician's Assistant. Shannon spent this past semester studying in Barcelona.

She's very active at the University of Illinois. She's a discussion facilitator at the Woman's Resource Center. She's a campus liasson for the sexual assault program and has helped develop programming. She's also active in the Greek system. Shannon is a CNA, working with students with disabilities on campus. She'll be working in our health center as our health aide.

More about Shannon

How did you learn about North Star and why did you apply?
- I actually heard of North Star online through a job search website. It stood out to me as a fun, unique summer job experience, and that is why I applied.

What is your dream job?
- My dream job is to be a Physician's Assistant and to travel to underprivileged countries to provide medical support and assistance.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Steve Jobs and Steve Irwin.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I would travel to Croatia. I was abroad in Spain this semester and had friends who traveled there but I never got the chance. I would want to go white water rafting!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- An endless supply of watermelon, some sunscreen, and a beach chair.

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- I'm pretty easy going when it comes to sports. Love all my Chicago teams, but when it comes down to it, I root for whoever's winning :P

What noteworthy/random/menial jobs have you held?
- All of my jobs have been pretty basic, nothing noteworthy yet!

What did you do last summer?
- Last summer I went on a 2 week study abroad trip to Costa Rica and then lived on campus at University of Illinois taking a Certified Nurses Assistant class and volunteering at the local hospital.

What, if any previous camp/outdoor experiences have you had?
- I think I went to a girl scout camp for a day when I was 7... looking forward to broadening my horizons!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Staff Spotlight - Philip Rasansky


What’s up everyone, my name is Philip Rasansky, and I’ll be returning to North Star for summer number eleven! I’m a native of Dallas, TX, but I just finished my freshman year at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where I’ll (maybe?) be studying Math and Spanish. 

At camp, you can find me up on the basketball court, athletic fields, or down at the waterski docks. Can’t wait to make this North Star’s best summer yet!
 
More about Philip

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Pocket-sized versions of Chris Rodriguez, Forest Lemon, and Nick Hill

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- Council Ring, no doubt.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs

What sports team(s) that you root for?
- Dallas Mavericks and Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Anything University of Texas and Anything Dartmouth

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- United Nations Day

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- Pizza touring through Italy

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Chocolate Peanut Butter

Best holiday gift that you've ever gotten?
- Sports Memorabilia

How has camp impacted you?
-I think it’s hard to quantify the impact North Star has had on my personality. My summers in the Northwoods of Wisconsin have become such a constant in my life that I don’t think there’s a part of me the North Star hasn’t touched, altered, or stamped. The values I have learned here—what it means to be a good friend, a good leader, and a good sport, among many—are ones that I continue to look for in myself and those with whom I surround myself.

Staff Spotlight - Ben Rubin


We're excited to have Ben Rubin back on staff this summer. A native of Highland Park, IL, he has just finished up his senior year at Highland Park High School, where, besides going to school, he competes in debate and DECA (a business and marketing competition). Next year he will be heading to the University of Pennsylvania.

Ben will be returning for his eighth summer at camp, and his second on staff. At camp, he is a windsurfing and sailing instructor.


More about  Ben

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you'd bring?
- Some music, a friend, and a sail boat.

What is your favorite spot at camp?
- Definitely the Council Ring on Friday nights.

If you could have lunch with any two people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- Elon Musk and Paul Krugman

What is your favorite special program at camp?
- Espionage! Closely followed by the camp play and cruiser days.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
- I think I would really like to go to Italy and experience all of the culture and history (and eat a lot of really good food).

What's your go-to pie at the Norske Nook?
- Butterfinger. Nobody knows what's in it, but is sure is good.

How has camp impacted you?
- Camp has introduced me to so many of my lifelong friends and has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It has also made me a much more caring and responsible person and has always encouraged me to be myself.