North Star Camp for Boys

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Carry On Vickie

There is still plenty of camping left in North Star's 73rd summer. We are currently in the middle of Lazy Day. Campers had an opportunity to sleep in this morning and have a made-to-order breakfast. For much of the day they are in charge of their own schedule, with the project areas around camp are open. Evening program will be casino night, where they will play a variety of games for the opportunity to win a small prize. Tomorrow is camper counselor switch day, where the senior village campers will switch clothes with the staff and assist in leading cabins and activities for a day.

As we approach the end of the summer, it is important to reflect on one of the circumstances that made this summer unique. Before the summer, we sent an email to our parents and explained how we planned to help our community mourn the loss of Vickie Shlensky and carry on her legacy. We began by hiring a child life specialist and grief counselor, not only to provide individualized support for campers and staff, but to train our staff to better support their campers. We held pre-camp orientation sessions that dealt with topics like coping with adversity and showing empathy and compassion when communicating with children. The aim was to equid our staff with the tools to facilitate conversations about loss and other life-changing events. The staff did a spectacular job of supporting their campers and each other through this summer.

We took a few opportunities throughout the summer to remember Vickie and process her loss. We offered a Friday Night Service each session that honored Vickie and discussed North Star values that were reflected in her life. The themes of these services were perseverance and community, and in the keylog ceremonies many campers and staff chose to dedicate their keylog to Vickie. Vickie’s strengths throughout her illness and end of life and were delivered through readings and moving sermonettes to teach our campers about the important North Star values that she instilled in all of us.

In addition, the fieldhouse was dedicated and named “VICtory Fieldhouse” and a space within the building called “The Wall of VICtory” was created to exhibit modified keylogs filled with personalized messages. A plaque on that wall reads “small VICtories that have made a big impact on us all” and is intended to be a lasting reminder of the qualities that made Vickie a role model. The wall invites future campers to add their own keylogs in an ongoing effort to carry on Vickie’s legacy.

The efforts of campers and staff made all of this possible, and it is with the love and support of this community that we will indeed carry on Vickie's legacy through a lifetime of North Star summers.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Alumni: Settle Up Challenge 2017

Even though there is always “plenty of camping left,” it’s hard to believe there is only one more week left of second session. It’s been an amazing summer at camp. Saturday was the 73rd Pow Wow Day. Camper favorites such as Espionage, Lazy Day and Camper-Counselor switch day are still to come. 

Over the next week Andy will also be settling up with the hard-working counselors and staff members who make North Star such as special place. Lou and Leb have long asked the staff to “Remember the Scholarship Fund” in that settle up meeting, and Andy has carried on that tradition. The staff have been making a donation from their salaries to Camp for All Kids, the successor to the North Star Scholarship Fund. Many of you were counselors at North Star so you know that giving back part of a modest camp salary is quite generous for these guys. This is year two of the Settle Up Challenge. We had tremendous results last summer when 60 North Star staff members donated a total of $2,934.00, and 40 North Star alumni pledged matching donations totaling over $22,000. As a result, the Settle Up Challenge raised more than $25,000!

Camp for All Kids promotes and facilitates racial diversity by sending kids from underserved communities to North Star and four other summer camps. These kids not only make lifelong friendships and experience the magic of camp, they also contribute so much to the camp culture. This summer, we were lucky to have 20 campers through this program from J-1 to Pine Manor.

The Settle Up Challenge is a gift matching campaign that invites you, our camp alumni, to match donations made by our current staff from their camp paychecks at the end of the summer. This is a great way for North Star alumni to model their philanthropic behavior for our current staff. Our current staff hear stories, read your names on plaques, see your photos in the Lodge and feel the history of camp every day. It’s people like you who they look up to lead the way.

The Settle Up challenge will increase the impact of each of our current staff members. If they know that their $20 (for example) may turn into $200 because we have 10 alumni matching them, that provides even more incentive for them, and we can send more deserving kids to camp! You can make your pledge by simply emailing Andy ( with your commitment. You can set a cap on your matching gift. Last summer, staff donations were nearly $3,000. We are asking for a minimum of $500 from a matching gift. Staff donations are currently being matched by $16,750, but we are looking to beat last year's total!

We will total up the donations from current camp staff and contact you during the week of August 15 to tell you the amount raised by the staff. You can then go to the Camp for All Kids website and make your tax-deductible matching gift.

North Star has been the heart and soul of Camp for All Kids since its inception. Our alumni are consistently the most generous donors and active participants. Paul “Nate” Nathanson and Rob Porter have served as co-presidents many years. Moreover, four of the five Camp for All Kids partner camps are owned by North Star alum: North Star, Birch Trail (Gabe Chernov, Richard and Barbara’s son), Chippewa Ranch Camp (Cliff Lissner, who purchased camp from Tom Adler), and Timberlane (Mike Cohen). The fifth, Kamaji, was purchased last year by Kat Martin and Jason Nelson from North Star alums and Camp for All Kids founders Mike and Kathy Jay. The Settle Up Challenge is a great way to further instill on our current camp staff two of the distinguishing characteristics of North Star alumni – your generosity and your dedication to make the world a better place.

Please contact Andy if you have any questions and, as always, Remember The Scholarship Fund!