North Star Camp for Boys

Monday, March 15, 2021

2021 NSC March Madness

The NCAA Men's basketball tournament is back, so we're excited to invite all North Star people, past, present and future to join the NSC March Madness Challenge. There is no cost to participate and winner gets a wanegan of their choice, to be redeemed at camp, during the summer of 2021.

Here are the links and log-in information:

Direct Link to group -
Group: The Council Ring
Password: keylog

One entry per person, please. We have changed the group limit size to one, so if you have multiple family members, you're going to have to make additional accounts.

Please extend an invite any and all North Star people. We want to make sure that as many North Star people as possible are included. We know that a lot of our current campers and staff will enjoy seeing as lots of alumni participate. Don't worry about sending this to someone who may have gotten it already.

If you choose to join in, please put your name and perhaps even the years you attended North Star within your bracket name or entry info. Feel free to be creative, but it will be nice for people to see some names and know who all is involved.

You are able to sign-up now. You can fill out your brackets any time before tip-off on Friday, March 19th (you do not need to fill out brackets before the play-in games).

There is also a second March Madness that we want everyone to know about. The Camp For All Kids Foundation is having their annual March Madness competition. Camp for All Kids helps send kids in need to camp and is the organization that is responsible for bringing scholarship kids to camp. There Camp for All Kids March Madness is a great fundraiser aimed at making camp possible for more kids. Find that fundraiser here:

As always a big quick keylog to Doug Willson who opened up his Crunch Island Challenge to North Star guys many Marchs ago.

Keep those fires burning!

Past Winners:
2019: Gabe and Jake Goldstein
2018: Leo Auerbach
2017: Zach Garfinkel
2016: Noah Glick
2015: Ezra Kornberg
2014: David Shakno
2013: Jonah Baim
2012: Charles Eisner
2011 - Zach Garfinkel
2010 - Alex Sharrin
2009 - Peter Tauber
2008 - Eli Fried
2007 - Kenny Grider
2006 - Jeff Schrager
2005 - Alexander W Heldman

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Summer 2021 Update

Happy Valentine’s Day! We love our North Star family so much, and we are so grateful that you have chosen to be a part of it.
So much has unfolded since this time last year, and now we sit four months away from the Summer of 2021. While we’re still living in the yellow-light world we discussed so much last spring, we enter this spring confident that we will provide a safe and fantastic experience for our campers this summer. The plan that we put in place last year continues to guide us, yet we know there are still many questions about what this summer will look like. With that in mind, though everything is subject to change, here is where things stand today:

Two 4-Week Sessions
One of the hardest things about last summer was knowing that over 150 of our own campers were not able to attend camp under the circumstances. Camp is always critical, and it feels as important as ever given what we’ve faced throughout the pandemic. It is with that in mind that we continue to work towards two 4-week sessions, so that we can give as many boys as possible a summer at North Star. After last year’s great 7-week session, we have more 8-week campers than we’ve had in a long time, and we are excited to provide an incredible 8-weeks at camp so that the boys can be active, spend time with their friends, be outdoors, and gain the social and emotional intelligence that we work to teach at camp. 

No Parents Visiting Weekend
While we know how much you love visiting your children and seeing camp in action, and while we love being able to share the Northwoods with you, inviting outside visitors into our camp bubble is simply not a risk I’m willing to take. Our goal is to minimize outside exposure to the greatest extent possible, and so it will not be possible to invite in the hundreds of visitors we customarily have. Just like last year, we will replace visiting weekend virtually for 8-week campers.

Quarantine Prior to Camp
We will require a quarantine period prior to camp. While we cannot guarantee that COVID-19 will not come into camp, we owe it to each other to do everything that we can to work to keep COVID-19 out. During the period leading up to camp, we will ask that campers have no indoor interactions with anyone outside of their household. We will also ask that members of the household take all reasonable precautions to support this effort. Last year, that time period was 14-days, though in conjunction with testing, it is likely that this year we will be able to shorten that period.
There are many more details still to come on this, including how to handle school within that window, but we know that we will be asking families to monitor for symptoms, complete contact tracing forms, and acquire a negative PCR test immediately before camp. The quarantine time at home is incredibly important to mitigate the risk that a camper brings COVID-19 to camp, so we expect everyone to adhere to our requirements closely. Failure to adhere specifically puts your son’s cabin at risk. If you do not believe that your family will be able to comply with these restrictions, please contact us immediately.
Small Group Cohorting at the beginning of each session
Because COVID-19 may come into camp even with the best pre-camp precautions, the best way for us to contain the spread is to once again require a cabin-based cohorting at the start of each session. Thanks to improvements in testing and updated information, we are again likely to be able to shorten the timing from last year, and are hopeful that we can limit that initial phase to 7-10 days maximum.
8-week campers will need to re-pod at the start of 2nd session. While the 8-week campers will likely have cleared all COVID-19 hurdles by the end of the first session, welcoming all of our second session campers to camp means we’ll need everyone to re-enter our first phase of cohorting to ensure our “camp bubble” is intact and we can stop the spread of COVID-19 if it enters camp at session changeover. 

More Activity Choices during initial cabin-based cohort time
We have learned a lot since last spring about COVID-19, and with more time and information, we have plans in place to allow the boys to have more choice over their activities. It will still be slightly more restrictive than the usual freedom they have during the summer, but boys will have elective periods and will be able to participate in instructional activities of their choosing during this time. 

Travel to Camp
We are still ironing out details about transportation procedures including locations and transportation methods. We are working on a comprehensive strategy to combine transportation with the latest testing methods to make camp travel as safe as possible and as convenient as we can make it within those confines. For now, we simply ask for your patience and understanding while we put the best plans in place, and we will have more information for you shortly so that you can plan accordingly.

Much will change between now and the start of camp. It hit a low of -38 degrees this week, so good thing there’s still lots of time before the summer! We promise to stay on top of the latest developments to work towards an incredible Summer of 2021. As always, please reach out to us directly if you have any specific questions. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Black Lives Matter at Summer Camp

 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - Nelson Mandela

Today marks a Summer Camp Day of Action for Black Lives Matter. North Star unequivocally supports the Black Lives Matter movement. As we were gearing up to begin pre-camp orientation this summer, the world began responding to the killing of George Floyd. North Star has always valued diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we wanted to do more this summer to instill those values in our campers and staff. While we are proud of the steps taken in 2020, they are only part of an ongoing effort to ensure that North Star remains an inclusive environment where everyone can be their true self at camp regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.

During pre-camp, one of our first-year nurses Molly told us that she wanted to lead a Privilege Walk. The Privilege Walk was an activity that highlights how people benefit or are marginalized by systems in our society. We gathered on the athletic field and stood in a straight line along the 3rd baseline of Dan’s Diamond. Molly began by reading a series of statements and every person either stepped forward, stepped backward, or stood in place, depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with the phrase. For example, two of the statements were “If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to fit in more, take one step back,” and “If you have always assumed you’ll go to college, take one step forward.” At the end of the Privilege Walk, the exercise generally resulted in white males being further ahead than other groups, an unfortunate yet also unsurprising reality to the systems deeply rooted in racism within our society. Certain privileges are woven into the mainstream fabric of society that it is often hard to even recognize them, which is exactly why we were proud Molly wanted to lead the Privilege Walk during pre-camp. Unless we are able to recognize our unconscious biases or understand that there are societal norms that provide roadblocks to marginalized groups, we cannot begin to make the changes needed to make society more equitable and fair to everyone regardless of race, sexual orientation, or background. The most powerful part of the evening was our debrief discussions afterward. We broke into our pre-camp pods and discussed how certain statements made us feel, what statement made us think the most, or how it felt to be at the front/middle/back of the pack. It was empowering to sit on the athletic field and look at the debrief groups, seeing how serious everyone was taking this exercise. It set a tone for other similar discussions throughout the summer.

One of the staples of the North Star program is our Friday Night Services. Every Friday, we gather at the Council Ring to reflect on the week. There is always a theme to the service such as “Overcoming Mistakes,” “Character,” and “Grit and Perseverance,” to name a few. As soon as the George Floyd protests began to take place, we made the decision to put together an Anti-Racism themed Friday Night Service. Many of our staff this summer were passionate about racial inequality and volunteered ideas and support for the service, including sermonettes, readings, and musical selections. We had readings from Michelle Obama, Civil Rights Leaders including Malcolm X and Coretta Scott King, and excerpts from books like “How to Be An Antiracist.” The musical selections were particularly moving: Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” which has been described as an anthem of the civil rights movement. “Blowin’ In The Wind” went on to inspire “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, which was another musical selection that evening. “A Change Is Gonna Come” was written about various personal events in Sam Cooke’s life, most prominently the experience of being turned away by a white-only motel in Louisiana. In the song, Sam sings, “it’s a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.” The song was written in 1964. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done. The final song of the evening was “All Some Kind of Dream” by Josh Ritter, a 2019 song that takes a stand against anti-immigration policies and offers hope that human compassion will win out in the end. It was a powerful evening.

We did a similar activity to the Privilege Walk in our fall camp orientation, where one of our counselors read statements about North Star and its culture, and staff members went to one side of the tennis court depending on whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the statement. Example statements were “A person from any walk of life can thrive at North Star” and “The ways in which I am different are valued here, not just tolerated.” Despite only being a few days into knowing each other, it was powerful to see so many staff members speak so passionately and openly about why they felt the way they did. The exercise was an incredibly moving session and part of our ongoing effort to learn about our culture and what we can do to continually improve upon making sure North Star is inclusive and promotes equality to every member of our community.

Following that session, one of our new counselors, Karson, shared some of his personal experiences growing up as a black child in a predominantly white community. He shared how he was once told that he was hired for a job to be the “minority hire”. One of the more powerful moments of Karson’s speech was when he shared a conversation he had with one of our other black counselors, Shay. Karson went up to Shay during pre-camp and asked him why he loved working at North Star and why he had returned this year for his second summer (and then also came back for fall camp). Shay replied, “when a kid gets off the bus, I want them to see someone who looks like them and know that they’re not alone.” Sometimes the best way to learn and understand inequalities is to hear stories from people who have experienced them firsthand. Karson helped spearhead plenty of thought-provoking conversations during fall camp and we thank him for having the courage to share them with the rest of the fall camp group.

                                 Karson and one of our Fall Camp campers

Camp is a better place when its people are diverse, and when tolerance and empathy are pillars of the camp culture. Every year, we work hard to ensure we are hiring as diverse of a staff as possible to help instill those values in our campers and fellow staff members. Diversity comes in many shapes and forms - cultural, racial, religious, sexual orientation, etc. At the end of the day, we want to hire great counselors who will be excellent role models for the campers and help them appreciate that differences amongst each other are good things. Accepting others for who they are is incredibly important, both in our camp environment and in life itself.  

North Star is also a proud founding member of Camp For All Kids. Camp For All Kids was established in 1997 to facilitate racial diversity at summer camps by sending kids from under-served communities to overnight camp. Our partnership with this organization simultaneously makes North Star a better place and helps instill the values of inclusion and anti-racism in all of our campers as they seek to make the world a better place. Every summer, through generous charitable donations raised from alums and other donors, we have Camp For All Kids campers at North Star to provide them with an opportunity to grow and learn life skills at camp, experiences that they otherwise would not be able to have. To date, Camp For All Kids has given thousands of camp years to campers since its inception. If you are interested in donating to the cause so future campers can attend North Star and other Camp For All Kids camps, please consider donating here.  

Standing up for racial equality has always been in North Star’s cultural fabric, dating back to our original founders Lou and Renee Rosenblum. The steps we took this summer were positive steps in the right direction, but achieving the level of diversity and inclusion we strive for is very much a work in progress with plenty of room for improvement. Today we stand with the summer camp community in their support for Black Lives Matter, and we vow to work hard every day to make North Star more inclusive, diverse, and equal for all campers and counselors who come through the North Star arches in the future.

Friday, October 30, 2020

2020 Reflections Video

"In a year where nothing was normal, North Star was normal and it just felt like we won the lottery." - 2020 Camp Parent

With the help of some campers, counselors, and staff, we look back on the unique and very rewarding summer of 2020.


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!