North Star Camp for Boys

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Dynasty Day!

Today was a very exciting day in the Northwoods for our boys! We are into our second week of the session, and today was our second Cruiser Day. This Cruiser Day, our Junior Village counselors planned a tournament dubbed “Dynasty Days.” The village was split into four teams, the Romans, the Spartans, the Trojans, and the Mongols, each complete with their own cheers.

The day started off strong with donuts, fruit, and cereal. Dan delivered on the requests for Boston Cream Donuts and they were a hit. Directly after breakfast, our juniors jumped into their competition with an all-village arm-wrestling tournament. Softball, Newcombe, and nine-square followed before the village jumped into their “Academic Hour.” We like to encourage development and success in a variety of activities at camp, so chess, trivia, and essay writing (with such prompts as “Is Da Baby real?”) were weighted as heavily as the athletic events.

The Junior Village could not have lined up a more beautiful day for their Cruiser Day, and the afternoon sun made getting in the lake for water sports a treat. Eight campers competed in log-rolling, with the Mongols coming out on top. 24 campers and eight advisors from each team tried their hand at inner-tube racing, which involves them sitting backwards in an inner-tube and furiously splashing to get to the end of the lane. The final water event was water polo, which our juniors have seen the senior kids play and wanted to try their hand at. Each game was a success with great passes, key saves by the goalies, and good sportsmanship all around.

The day ended with pizza and the final event: jumping over pizza boxes stacked like hurdles. Final results were in before dessert, determining the order for the Junior Village ice cream treat! 24 points separated first from last, making it a very close race. Mongols came in fourth, Romans, Spartans, and the Trojans took home gold with an impressive 109 points!

The Intermediate and Senior Villages also had jam-packed days with activities like water games, slip-and-slides, oreo-ball making, climbing, sailing, paddle-boarding, canoeing, and tubing. We look forward to getting back into the swing of things with our programmed activities tomorrow!

Yesterday’s Grace:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. “
- Nelson Mandela

Friday, July 23, 2021

North Star Ball and tonight's Friday Night Service on "Community"

Today was a jam-packed day to end the first three days of activities for second session.  So many campers have already shown progress at their activities after such a short time - whether they have gotten up on waterskis or advanced to intermediate riflery, to name a few. After lunch, we announced the Green-White captains for second session. There are two captains from each village who are nominated by the counselors based on the leadership, sportsmanship and  positive attitude they have exemplified in their cabins and throughout camp. During the session, the captains have the added honor of planning and leading their team in Green-White events.

In the late afternoon, we had our first Green-White event of the second session...North Star Ball! North Star Ball is similar to Capture the Flag. Each team starts with two balls on their side. When the round starts, the team members on offense try to get to the “ball circle” and bring a ball back to their side either by running it across the center line without getting caught or passing it to a teammate who then runs it across the line. The team that gets all four balls to their side first wins the round. Today, the Green team extended their summer lead by winning North Star Ball 4-1.

After North Star Ball, we had our first Friday Night Service of the second session. During Friday nights, we take a more reflective tone during mealtime; meals are quieter and there is no cheering, yelling or singing like normal. We have a delicious meal of roast beef, potato pancakes, applesauce and vegetables before we gather around the flagpole to begin our Friday Night Service.

The Friday Night Service takes place at the Council Ring, one of the most beautiful areas of camp. The Council Ring overlooks Clear Lake and every week we are treated to a beautiful sunset during the service. Every Friday Night Service has a different theme. One of our senior village campers is selected to be the leader of the service, leading the camp in some readings.  One counselor will give a sermonette based on the theme, there will be songs performed by the camper and counselor choruses and, of course, the Keylog Ceremony. This week’s theme was “Community”, a timely topic as over one hundred campers joined the North Star community earlier this week. 

One of our veteran counselors, Noah Byck, gave a sermonette about his own experiences in building friendships at camp and carrying those values out with him the rest of the year. Noah shared how he learned at camp the importance of caring for others and offering a helping hand.  Noah shared a story about how during a lunch period at school a few years ago, he saw a boy he knew sitting alone. Instead of going to the table where his friends were sitting, Noah went to sit with the boy. His “friends” took offense to that and Noah found himself being ostracised by his friend group. The major takeaway from Noah’s sermonette was that while it hurt in the moment, he realized that a true friend supports you in your efforts to do the right thing and that the people he thought were his friends didn’t have the values he holds true to himself. Later that year, he came to camp and felt at home -- in the safe community we have at North Star that encourages doing the right things for the right reason, where everyone should be treated with kindness and respect. 

Tomorrow we start our second set of programs, so our boys will have new activities, new counselors to meet, and new friends to make!

Today's Grace:
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cruiser Day and Activity Choices

When Tuesday comes around at North Star, you can be pretty sure our boys are up to some pretty exciting shenanigans. Tuesday was the first Cruiser Day of the session. Cruiser Days are when the cabins spend the entire day together, often participating in different activities than usual. We started off the morning with our first round of COVID testing, so we had our boys drooling before their breakfast of doughnuts, fruit, and cereal. And shortly after dinner we were able to find out that all of our results were negative! That allowed us to enter the second phase of our covid protocols including individual choice activities, which started today.

The weather was a comfortable 73 degrees, perfect for an assortment of activities ranging from sponge fights on the athletic fields, water games, softball, and constructing delicious “edible cabins.” Edible cabins was an activity out on our picnic tables in which each cabin was given graham crackers, frosting, candy, goldfish, and pretzels and made their own log cabins. Many of our campers made cabins, tents, and other recognizable structures. Many others took creative liberty with their creations, but also ended up with a delicious mess. Another popular activity today was zipline dodgeball. Our boys climbed to the top of the climbing wall and pelted onlookers with dodgeballs as they ziplined down the wall!

We wrapped up a fun-filled Cruiser Day with “tinfoil surprise.” Each cabin has a box filled with hamburger patties, carrots, potatoes, onions, bread, cheese and s’more makings. The boys wrap up their food in tin foil and cook it over a campfire. The boys build their own fire, cut up their own food, cook it, and taste the results of their efforts. They also have a ton of fun making different shapes out of the tin foil!

As we come off of our first few days of camp, today we jumped into the first day of our project areas! Our boys rank their top ten choices out of over 80 choices for activities. Favorite activities include archery, riflery, water games, climbing, soccer, stand-up paddleboarding, tennis, waterskiing, disc golf, and arts and crafts, to name a few. The boys are assigned three instructional activities for a three day period. This gives them the opportunity to work on a skill or project consistently and to improve in measurable ways.

At camp, we have three levels for project areas: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each activity has its own milestones for the camper to reach in order for them to progress up a level. For example, in archery, a camper must make a certain score from a certain distance before they can move up. Our objective based programming is a great way for our boys to stay focused and motivated, and to teach them to set goals and work towards them.

This evening was our staff talent show, which is an entertaining way for our campers to meet our counselors and staff. Assistant Directors Robyn, Brian and Kacy sang “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo, which has been a popular tune here over the summer. Some of our Junior Village counselors gave us a rendition of “Rocky Racoon” by The Beatles, and a few others had an intense rock-paper-scissor tournament. Erni juggled, Sergio solved a rubix cube, and Ari, Jeff, Brittney, and Charlie drank lots of milk. Noah B and associates gave a lecture along with an interpretive skit about the 2008 housing crisis. Talent comes in all forms here at North Star!

Morning Grace:

-Giannis Antetokounmpo

Monday, July 19, 2021

Dodgeball, Swim Tests and Health Checks, Oh My!

Today was the first full day of the second session and what a packed day it was! The weather was perfect for village activities (lots of dodgeball) and swim tests. All of our four-week campers hopped in the lake to swim laps and tread water, the length determined by their age level. Swimming in a lake is always a bit different than swimming in a pool, but our boys did a fantastic job of handling any nerves and were very successful! The unique twist to dodgeball is that everyone had to stop and introduce themselves to the people that they had just eliminated. With the heat of the day, the Junior Village Dodgeball ended early in favor of a big water fight. The campers also had their entry physicals in the Health Center, and had time to continue getting settled, explore camp, catch frogs, play roofball, tetherball and get in a little fishing.

Our 8-week campers and counselors spent time teaching everyone the cheers, songs and camp traditions. One such unique North Star tradition is our birthday song. Today at dinner we celebrated four camper birthdays! Our baker Sandy has done a brilliant job throughout the summer baking cakes that are not only delicious, but are beautiful as well. Birthdays are always exciting over here in the Northwoods because the camper’s entire cabin gets to enjoy the cake, the whole camp sings to them, they get to make a birthday wish, and often they get woken up with a pizza party later that night.

But the fun did not end at dinner. Following dinner, we had our first Wanegan of the session. Wanegan is the Ojibwe word for store, and for our campers it means candy! Campers line up and sing for candy at the porch behind Cabin J-3, and campers go through the Wanegan line to a great deal of excitement and fanfare to choose their candy bar.

We followed up Wanegan with an all-camp game of Capture the Flag. We split into temporary green and white teams and based one team behind the Junior Village and the other on the athletic fields. The flags were flying tonight, with teams opting for quick offense and less defense.

Tomorrow is Cruiser Day and we have a great deal of excitement planned for each cabin all, All, ALL day long!

Today's Grace:
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
- Desmond Tutu

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Second Session Is Underway

With the arrival of the buses at about 2:45pm, the second session was officially underway! As the second session campers stepped foot on camp grounds, our staff and 8-week campers excitedly jumped and cheered to welcome them to North Star’s 77th summer. We gathered around the flagpole shortly thereafter and announced the cabins. From there the boys went to settle into their cabins, and together with their counselors are setting up their summer home.

We are thrilled to report that 100% of the Covid tests came back negative last night.

Seeing the joy on the faces of so many of our boys who weren’t able to join us last summer filled us up even more than camper arrival usually l does. Whether you visited your 8-weeker via Zoom, or found your way to Schaumburg to drool, we know that making camp work has required an extra level of sacrifice and commitment, and we are so grateful for all of our families. The boys have missed out on so much over the last eighteen months, and we are so thrilled to have everyone back at camp. Our counselors have been reminding the boys how to shake hands, make eye contact, and introduce themselves. We will spend the summer working to teach the boys social skills from refreshers on the basics like learning the names of others to valuable lessons in empathy, teamwork and compassion. And the best part is that we get to have a blast all the while playing in our beautiful slice of the Northwoods.

The boys are now unpacking and new campers will soon be receiving 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 in their age group age as well.

Dinner this evening will be burgers, fries and jello, plus the ever present salad bar and 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. The first three days of activities will be by cabin, and then the boys will have their full slate of elective instructional offerings from there.

Tonight’s 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. Our expectation is that every boy goes to bed tonight knowing that they have at least one counselor that they are already comfortable enough with to wake him up if they need something in the middle of the night and that they have made one new friend that they can play with in the morning. 

Tomorrow the kids will have a busy day as our medical team checks in the boys. They will take a swim test on a nice hot day and find time to play several games of dodgeball. Evening program will be our first game of All-Camp Capture the Flag. And Tuesday will be a modified Cruiser Day, so that the boys can spend one more day in their cabin pod before we hopefully clear our next round of our testing protocols. If everything goes according to plan, the boys will have their first three elective instructional activities, which they chose tonight, starting on Wednesday. From there we will also begin sending out our cabin camping trips to get the boys back out having adventures in nature. The first four weeks of the summer have absolutely flown by, and we’re so excited to have our second session boys at camp for an amazing 4-weeks!

From here on out, you can follow along with the summer of 2021 on our website at We will also be posting updates on Facebook at, on Twitter at , and on Instagram @northstarcamp.
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!

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Great & Glorious North Star Party!

Today is a historic day at North Star Camp. The new president and vice president, Alex B and Brandon L were inaugurated at the flagpole with a ceremonial flag lowering before our Friday night service. A debate preceding the election took place yesterday afternoon with a record number of candidates. Jack Yonover facilitated the debate with important questions such as “what is the economy?” and “what will you do regarding the return of camp man?” Popular platforms include “double Wanegan” (double candy), bigger cabins, gatorade in the water fountains, a robot to hang up life vests, and a dog cabin (K-9). Posters were hung around camp in critical locations such as above the hand washing station and each camper filled out a ballot at dinner.

As the night winds down with a Friday night service, so does our first session, and what a successful session it has been. For that, we have so many people to thank, starting with our camper’s parents and guardians. If not for you, we could not have ensured that we were COVID free this session. After the initial quarantine and passing our testing hurdles we were able to open up activities outside with minimal masking. This past year has thrown many challenges in our paths, from health concerns to missing after school programs, and we feel honored that you have trusted us with teaching and growing with your camper.

The theme of tonight’s Friday night service was perseverance, featuring a sermonette by our senior counselor MW Gianini. MW spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail by himself. MW spoke about how when many people think about perseverance they think about the big stuff, like summiting the mountain, walking across the stage at graduation, or finishing a marathon. What matters, though, are the little things. The bumps and the bruises. The cuts and the scrapes. The things that give you reasons to stop, but each time you choose to carry on. Graduation takes perseverance over four years, but the choice you make to start your homework early or to keep your head up in class are the choices that build on each other and lead to success.

MW’s experience on the Appalachian Trail was a wonderful experience for our boys to hear about as they take on their own physical and mental challenges while being at camp. We hope that as our boys head back home or into the second session, and then get back into school that they take the lessons and experiences they’ve had at camp to heart. The key log ceremony tonight was a long one, with the most campers we’ve had this summer coming up to say what they are grateful for. Some of the most frequent mentions include the friends they’ve made this session, their cabin mates, their counselors, and their families for sending them to camp.

As we send boys off to Minneapolis, Madison, and Chicago tomorrow, we do so looking forward to seeing all that our boys will accomplish this coming year and excited to see the men they return as next summer.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

U.N. Day

Today was one of the most anticipated and spirited days of the summer: United Nations Day! We have been building up to today for the last week by announcing captains, drafting teams, writing cheers and participating in Field Games and the UN Day Summit. UN Day is a day of friendly competition where the camp is split into four teams, represented by countries from the General Assembly of the United Nations. This year’s four nations were Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine, and Canada. We woke up a half hour early this morning so we could have extra time competing in fun and exciting activities. In order to show their team’s spirit, a majority of the campers started the day getting their bodies painted with colors from their country’s flag. Highlights included quite a few maple leafs from Canada, grape vines for Cyprus, “Crimea River” for Ukraine - a pun of the Justin Timberlake song, and Russia painting “Russia” on Boomer, one of the camp dogs. 

The day was split into four event “series” and every camper was assigned by their captains and advisor to at least three events. The day started with some high energy favorites during First Series including flag football (juniors), softball (ridge/villa), a stand up paddleboard relay, and line soccer at the Council Ring. While Second Series included team sports like speedball, kickball and basketball, it also had some more niche activities such as climbing, archery and riflery. It’s a tradition at lunch on UN Day to have tacos and all of the campers are eagerly anticipating what place their team is in at the midway point of the day.  At lunch, only 28 points separated first and last place: Cyprus was in 1st place, followed closely behind by Ukraine, and then Canada was in third with Russia bringing up the rear. 

Before the Third Series, all All ALL staff competed in a game of speedball to determine which team would eat first at dinner. Understandably, the campers were quite invested in the results too. Russia ended up winning the speedball tournament, so their team was able to eat first later that evening. Third Series kicked off with running relays on the athletic fields and then perhaps the most intense ten minutes of the day: Tug-Of-War.  Campers and counselors alike got loud cheering on their teammates during the frenzy of the competition. Third Series continued with some camp classics including soccer, dodgeball, steal the bacon, gaga and a canoe relay.

With such beautiful weather all day (80s and sunny), it was only fitting that our Fourth Series took place at Swim Point for all of our water events. The Fourth Series events included a medley relay, freestyle relay, individual 25m and 75m races, and a 10 person inner tube relay race. Each team was given an inner tube and had to kick, paddle and flail themselves to the other end of the dock and then roll off the tube so the next person could jump in. It is always very entertaining to watch and this year’s inner tube relay did not disappoint!

UN Day dinner is one of the best meals of the summer: a smorgasbord of food from around the world including spaghetti and meatballs, egg rolls, deviled eggs, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and chocolate milk.  

The night ended with an extended closing ceremony featuring multiple village cheers, a Big 10 fake and multiple major league sports score reports before finally announcing our UN Day final results. Each team did one final group cheer as a team.  Cyprus’s closing cheer was to the tune of “Imagine” by John Lennon. It was a perfect end to UN Day, a nod back to our Friday Night Service from two nights prior where we discussed why we participate in UN Day: to better ourselves as friends, cabin mates, global citizens and the North Star community.

UN Day Results (even though it just doesn’t matter):

Cyprus - 236

Ukraine - 220

Russia - 211

Canada - 207

Morning Grace:

"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - Pierre de Coubertin