North Star Camp for Boys







Friday, June 24, 2022

The Friendship Fire


North Star began in 1945 and on the first Friday night that summer the campers and staff gathered at the Council Ring for the very first Friendship Fire. 78 summers later, we do do the same thing on the first Friday of each summer. While camp is usually full of energy, cheering and lots of silly fun, Friday nights are a time for a serene and reflective evening. We asked the campers to clean up for the evening, get dressed up (by camp standards) and bring their restaurant manners to dinner. After dinner, we gather around the flagpole for a formal retreat which includes cabin reports, a patriotic song and the lowering of the flag, before we move as a camp out to the Council Ring.


One of the traditions of the Friendship Fire is to have a representative of each city throw a keylog into the fire to represent the bonds of friendship between their hometown and North Star. After a few years with a limited number of international staff able to participate, it was so wonderful to have not only so many states represented, but also a wide variety of nationalities as well. This year we have staff from Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Philippines and Spain. We have campers at camp from 24 different states, and staff from even more. It is so incredible to be able to have this type of cultural exchange happening within our camp community.

Mason Yonover gave an incredible sermonette as he talked about the ways in which his camp friendships have shaped his life. He touched on being yourself, not hiding your emotions, and finding strength from your friends who truly care about one another. We hear often about what makes camp friendships so special, but at its simplest it is about allowing yourself to be yourself, to be vulnerable, and to be loved and appreciated for who you truly are. That is the recipe.

We had some great music and nice readings, all with the backdrop of a perfect Clear Lake sunset. And every Friday Night concludes with singing Forest Green, Taps and reciting our Camper Benediction.

Our Pine Manor campers are spending their first night in Quetico Provincial Park this evening. We look forward to sharing their tales after their adventure concludes.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out our videographer Finlay’s recap of the first few days down below.

Today’s Grace:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Pine Manor to Canada & Our 1st Regular Day



The Pine Manor group departed this morning for their Canadian camping trip, a 10-day adventure of lake paddling and portaging through Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. This trip has been a tradition at North Star for many decades, and has come to be known as our capstone experience in a camper’s final year. The boys are spending tonight at Canoe Canada Outfitters sleeping in their legendary 4-level bunk beds before heading out into backcountry in the morning. After not being able to have our campers cross the border, our Pine Manor group was ecstatic to be able to restart this important North Star tradition.

Back at camp, today was our first day of regular programming. One of the things that makes the North Star program unique is that we offer our boys a great deal of choice. We have five periods between breakfast and dinner on a standard day at camp. The first three periods are our instructional periods, which the boys sign up for on a weekly basis. They choose six electives for the week and take each of them for three consecutive days, for one hour and fifteen minutes each day. The fifth period most days is our Organized Free period, which is an opportunity for the boys to choose an activity that they want to do just for that day. They can also use that time to rest, read, shower, or just hang with friends. The 4th period is the one period that the boys don’t have individual choice, as that typically rotates between Challenge Games, Village Activities, and Green-White competitions. This all puts together a schedule for each child that has a great deal of structure, but also a great deal of choice within that structure.

We take great pride in being a community that supports campers with different interests, personalities and backgrounds. And we take great pride in being a place where the boys can explore their interests as their interests grow and change through the years.

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


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Defining Cool on a Hot Day


The first full day of camp was a beautiful, busy day. A hot first night gave way to a day filled with warm sun and a strong breeze that set the stage for us to introduce people and systems alike around camp. 

We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast while (re)teaching our KP procedures. The counselors led their first cabin cleanup of the summer while (re)teaching how to make their beds, organize their shelves, and share the responsibilities of communal living.  And in the name of reteaching,  we met with the Senior Village tonight to discuss how our expectations of camp relationships and behavior differ from those expectations that they face elsewhere in the world. 


At its simplest, we have an opportunity to define “cool” at camp. If it looks the same as it does in their middle school or high school, we’ve likely failed. At camp, cool should describe kindness, empathy, a strong moral compass and the courage to act in defense of those values. I believe that our oldest campers and staff share a vision of creating that culture, and I look forward to seeing them actualize that vision.


Some of the simple ways we teach that with our younger campers is in our first Village Activity for the Juniors and Intermediates. For their village activity, they played games of continuous dodgeball. Continuous dodgeball is an every man for himself dodgeball game played on a big field. We play with the traditional dodgeball rules, so if you get hit, you are out, and if you catch a ball, the person who threw it at you is out. If the person who threw you out gets out themselves, you are back in. We play with large
groups, so there is never a winner. The twist is that if you get somebody out, you have to introduce yourself. (You are in a "safety zone" while you are in the process of the introduction.) With the help of the candlelight ceremony and some other games yesterday, the campers learned the names of everybody in their cabin. Today, with the help of this village activity, they start to learn the names of all the campers and staff in their village. Additionally, continuous dodgeball is a great introduction to our competitive philosophy. While no one wins continuous dodgeball, it is still important to give a full effort and have a great time while playing.


Our silliness showed as our banquet dinner saw the staff dress up in costume and dance to welcome the campers to dinner, and our amazing kitchen staff showed up in their onesies as well. And evening program, to cap off the beautiful day, was our first game of capture the flag.


To see pictures of all of the action, you can login to CampInTouch and click "Photos."


Today’s Grace:

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

- Nelson Mandela




Monday, June 20, 2022

A Hot Star to the Summer of 2022


The Summer of 2022 is off to a hot start at camp! The buses filed in together from Minneapolis and Chicago together to a welcome of very enthusiastic counselors and temperatures in the mid-90s and a perfect breeze. New and returning campers alike gawked at the new outdoor tennis and basketball courts, as well as the courts for North Star’s newest activity - pickleball!  We gathered around the flagpole to announce the cabins, and the campers and staff jumped for joy and even debuted some new dance moves, acrobatics and skits. The boys headed to their cabins to get unpacked and move in, and our amazing staff have started to get to know their campers as they help them settle in. The cabin list is attached

I know that today was not the easiest travel day for many, and some are still working their way to camp. Between flight issues and COVID testing, there were a lot of inconveniences. I promise that if you could have seen the joy on the campers’ faces when they arrived at camp, hugged their friends and the staff, and looked longingly at the fields and the lake, you would have seen that it was all immediately worthwhile. I am very grateful for what you have done to help get camp off to the smoothest start possible. 

As we’ve worked our way through pre-camp training, we’ve talked at length about two of our core tenets: culture and community. Among the staff, we have already built an incredibly strong community over the past few weeks, as folks have worked hard to get camp and themselves ready to be the best role models and counselors that they can be this summer. It has been clear that this group of 115 staff has embraced the North Star culture. The warmth, empathy, respect for each others’ differences and the importance of being true to one’s self have all shown through in the way this group works together, laughs together, sings and dances together, shares with one another, and takes care of each other. We have been so excited to welcome the campers into this community and culture.

And now it’s on to the fun and excitement of camp! The boys are now unpacking and new campers are 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. Wednesday activities will be by cabin, we’ll do our next round of COVID-19 testing Wednesday evening, and we plan to being elective instructional offerings on Thursday.

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 amazing medical team checks in the boys. The campers will take a swim test, and we’ll find time to play several games of dodgeball. Evening program tomorrow will be our first game of All-Camp Capture the Flag, with a new twist there as well. Trips will begin on Thursday and we are excited for our oldest boys to return to Canada this year where they will spend 10 days in the Ontario wilderness in Quetico Provincial Park. Wednesday evening will be the staff show, where our very talented group will be on display.

FOLLOW CAMP ONLINE
From here on out, you can follow along with the summer of 2022 on our website at www.NorthStarCamp.com/blog. We will also be posting updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/northstarcampforboys, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/northstarcamp , 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 www.northstarcamp.com 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!

Thanks,

-Andy

Sunday, March 13, 2022

2022 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: http://bit.ly/NSC22MM

Group: The Council Ring

Password: keylog

One entry per person, please. 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: https://conta.cc/3CJh5pK

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:

2021: Cameron

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 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Lazy Day, Green/White Egg Marathon and The Camp Play


Lazy Day Lazy Day, Oooh Ahhh. After a really fun late night of Espionage last night, today was Lazy Day! And despite what the name implies, it was anything but lazy as it was a jam-packed day filled with the Green/White Egg Marathon, North Star Ball and the camp play!


During each camper’s first summer, they are chosen to be on the green or white team and that team is their team for their life at North Star. One of the biggest events we have for Green/White competition each session is the Green/White Marathon. The marathon is a giant relay race that sweeps throughout camp and over the course of two hours covers paddleboarding, swimming, log rolling, portaging canoes, climbing, stacking chairs, making sandwiches, washing hands, making beds, riflery, archery, slip-and-sliding and finally, BOIL WATER BOIL! The first and second session marathons are almost identical, except that during the second session marathon, each team must carry an egg throughout the race and each activity must be completed without breaking the egg. The egg can be in your pocket, your hand or your sock (which was a new one), but if it breaks at any point, the egg runner for that team must run back to the office porch to retrieve a new one before the team can proceed. 

The highlight of every Green/White Marathon is the final event, Boil Water Boil. Two campers for each team spend most of the race searching for tinder, kindling and firewood. Once all the previous events have been completed, the entire camp gathers around the fire area to cheer their team on. The winner of the entire relay race is the first team that gets their bucket of water to boil over first.  So the two campers who spent the whole race collecting wood now get to see how quickly they can build and execute a fire hot enough to boil a bucket of water. The race was tight throughout and Boil Water Boil was extremely close -- with White narrowly (by 20 seconds) escaping with the win!

During Evening Program, we had the return of our camp play! Due to COVID-19 last year, we did not have a play but one of our CITs, Cole, wrote and directed the entire play and made sure we did not miss another year of such a wonderful tradition. The play was “The Campman”, a parody of the Dark Knight, and featured campers from all villages and even a few campers playing as camp dogs. Some of our Pine Manor guys took the lead roles and showed off some of their acting (and singing!) skills. The show was great and a really fun way to end our Lazy Day.

Tomorrow, the boys are in for a special surprise -- it’s Camper-Counselor Day! Our Senior Village campers will be the cabin counselors for the day and have chosen a staff member to swap personas (and clothing!) with tomorrow. We look forward to reporting on those shenanigans tomorrow!


Goodnight, ya’ll.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

North Star Games and the Big 10!


Today was one of the most anticipated days of the summer: North Star Games! It’s a day where the camp is split into four teams and competes in a variety of sports, swimming, leg wrestling, Tug-Of-War and other events. We started the day with village leg wrestling competitions. When the leg wrestling champions were about to be crowned, the sky opened up and it began to rain (even though it never rains at North Star…). We’ve been fortunate to have really incredible weather thus far this summer but this light rain lasted most of the morning. That said, the rain couldn’t dampen the team spirits and the NSC Games marched on! The boys had a blast playing Ultimate Frisbee, speedball, soccer, 9-Square, dodgeball and Polaris Ball to win points for their teams. 

Tacos were served during lunch but what makes the North Star Games lunch special is that it is completely silent. No cheering, no talking -- complete silence. The team of Capricornus entered lunch with a 20 point lead over Aries, Lacerta and Cetus but it was still a wide open competition. After lunch, the staff competed in a one-pitch softball tournament to determine eating order for dinner. By then, the rain had stopped and we were in the clear for the rest of the day. The afternoon was filled with landsports like speedball, volleyball and disc golf as well as some waterfront events like a canoe race, innertube races, freestyle relays, log-rolling and Senior Village water polo. 

After dinner and ice cream dessert, the entire camp gathered on the terrace to hear the results of North Star games. In 4th place, was the team of Cetus with 211 points.  Third place was team Aries with 219 points.  And in 2nd place....wait…what’s that van doing?...


It might be, it could be....It is!  It’s the BIG TEN!


That’s right - we interrupted the final scores to celebrate the tenth summer for six of our amazing counselors. Jaden B., Louis S., Adam S., Josh R., Bobby B., and Ethan H., have each spent ten summers up in the Northwoods with us and we are incredibly fond of the boys they were and proud of the men they have become. Right before the 2nd place team was announced, one of our vans pulled up in front of the terrace and six counselors spilled out blowing whistles and unfurling a banner reading “It might be, it could be, it is!” To celebrate ten years of camp, each Big 10 guy has a friend or family member tell a funny story about them (even if some of the stories are quite embellished…). We heard about abduction themed surprise parties taken too far, log rolling competitions and even a counselor-turned-Walmart-manager via underground tunnels between North Star and Hayward. After stories were done, everyone at camp dug into some delicious cake to celebrate the milestones.

But then it was back to the day’s results (even though it just doesn’t matter...). In 2nd place, with 222 points was the constellation of Lacerta. Capricornus held onto their lead from lunch and won the day with 242 points! It was a long, busy day and we will sleep a half hour later tomorrow.  Goodnight, ya’ll.


Today's Graces: "Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground." -Theodore Roosevelt. Lunch grace: "Silence Is Golden".