North Star Camp for Boys

Monday, September 14, 2020

First Day Of School!

Today our campers did something at camp that we have never done in our 76 year history: they went to school.  After getting settled this weekend, our boys were up bright and early to begin their first day of school at camp.  We’ve arranged camp so that every camper has a “classroom cabin” located next to their regular cabin.  Each classroom cabin is equipped with tables and chairs to create a desk space for each camper (and picnic tables right outside to use for when it’s nice out).  Of course, we’re also encouraging the boys to get outside to attend their classes around camp if that environment will not be distracting for them.  Most of the campers opted to do school for their first day in the cabins, but I did see a few virtually learning from some of the hammocks around camp!

Each school day, we will have to “Recess” periods, which are modeled after our summer Organized Free periods. Today, we had riflery, arts and crafts, waterskiing, and a few other activities open for the campers if they didn’t have class and needed a break from doing schoolwork.  I mean, has there ever been a cooler recess period than going waterskiing in between math and science class?!

At 2:30 PM today, we rang the bell to officially open the Fall Camp Cafe for the first time ever.  The Fall Camp Cafe will give the campers a chance to take a break towards the end of their school day and grab a snack.  It will be open every Monday through Friday at 2:30 PM (and closed on weekends -- aka camp days!).  There was quite a selection of snacks to choose from today: bags of pretzels, popcorn, cookies, string cheese, and some homemade Rice Krispies treats.  And since it was a perfect fall day today, we also had some hot chocolate for those with an even bigger sweet tooth.  Everyone at the Fall Camp Cafe could relax at the picnic tables with their friends, fill out a First Day Chalkboard to get their picture taken, or listen to the tunes being played on guitar by one of our awesome counselors, David.

After the Fall Camp Cafe closed and homework was completed, we went right into a jam-packed afternoon of camp activities!  Once school is over, our goal as much as possible is to get the boys out around camp, moving around and having fun.  First up was “After School Activities” which gave the campers the options to go sailing, swimming, or biking today. Next up was “Club” time where we had Arts & Crafts, Disc Golf, Chess, and Fishing open.  Lastly, before dinner, we had “Evening Program” where the younger boys went on a Nature Hike along the nature trail and the older boys played a game of speedball on the athletic field.  We finished up the day with a delicious make-your-own taco bar.  

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful weather outside (a high of 80 degrees!) so we expect to see a lot of the kids doing their remote schooling outside and taking advantage of the waterfront during their recesses and post-school activities.  The first day of school was a great success today; we’re looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Fall Camp: The Adventure Begins

The first weekend is in the books and it has been a huge success. Over the last two days, the boys have spent time getting to know one another and getting settled into our Fall Camp routine. Today was filled with dodgeball, softball, riflery, archery, climbing, waterskiing, kickball and more. The boys had the opportunity to shoot some hoops in the Fieldhouse and watch some football outside of the Lodge. All of that only came after we took time to set up the study cabins and test our hotspots, as well as our introductory health checks.

And we are feeling ready for tomorrow. All of the remote learning schedules are mapped out to allow not only for the boys to get their studies done, but for them to have opportunities for “recess” during the mornings and afternoons, followed by “afterschool activities” at 3:30, their clubs at 4:30 and an all-camp program at 5:30. Our education coordinators have the boys prepped and ready for this “first day of school” at camp. Most importantly, it has been so great to see the boys so happy and relaxed. While we’re getting used to the slower paced experience at camp (and seeing technology here), the campers and counselors alike are expressing their gratitude for being able to be here. I’m feeling that way too.

Whenever I have to travel away from Laney, even if only for a day or two, it always looks to me like she’s changed so much when I return. I know that the reality is that she changes gradually over time, but having that break allows you to see it in a different way. I went down to Chicago for the pickup there and it was the first time I had really seen the city since the beginning of May, and in a way I had that same feeling about my city. While I have been reading all of the news about how Covid and protests have changed the city, seeing it for myself was jarring - shops boarded up, some open like nothing had happened, some streets completely quiet, others with full traffic, some people wearing masks and face shields and gloves, and others wearing none. Most of all, it was filled with a tension that I have not gotten used to. Being up here for the whole summer and most of the spring, I haven’t had the chance to learn to tolerate all of it.

So returning to camp with our Fall Campers filled me with joy and gratitude. While we’re figuring out a great many things about what this new program will look like, this adventure here is filled with laughter and cheering and active, happy, socially engaged kids who are getting to still be kids. Thank you so much for trusting us with them during these wild times. With the first weekend of Fall Camp in the books, and the first day of school in the morning, we can’t wait to make the best of every day with this group for the next six weeks.

Chairs up, pencils down,