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.