North Star Camp for Boys







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!
  

FOLLOW CAMP ONLINE
From here on out, you can follow along with the summer of 2021 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!

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

Saturday, July 10, 2021

One World



One of the pinnacle events of first session is our United Nations Day. UN Day is an all camp event in which the camp is split into four nations, each represented by a country. Our philosophy on competition here at North Star is built on friendship before, during, and after the game. UN Day is an opportunity for us to practice this philosophy and discuss the many nations and backgrounds our staff and campers come from.

The theme of last night’s Friday night service was One World. Charlie J. led the service. Our Camper – Counselor Choir sang Imagine by John Lennon and our Counselor Chorus sang Peace Train by Cat Stephens. Our international staff each gave an anecdote that represented something unique about their home country, and Ernesto Gavier gave sermonette. Ernie is from Argentina and spoke beautifully about camp being his first time in the United States, the inclusive environment at North Star, and told us stories of finding kindness wherever he has traveled throughout the world.

In normal years we often have counselors from Australia, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, and Scotland to name a few. This year our international staff is more limited, but we still strive to emphasize the importance of cultural exchange between our campers and staff.

Tonight’s evening program was our United Nations Day Summit. The senior captains of each country made presentations about their countries, explaining their geography, history, and some interesting facts that make each nation unique. Each team presented its mascot, as well as a song or cheer. Cypress arranged a parody of House of the Rising Sun with Bennett C on guitar, Teddy S on keyboard, Zac D on saxophone and Sam G on Trumpet. On a more serious note, Ethan A. talked about the lessons of cultural exchange living as a Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia.

As we move towards UN Day, a full day of fun and competition, we keep in mind the importance of unity, sportsmanship, cultural appreciation and kindness that lie at the heart of our community.

Morning Grace:
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
- Oprah Winfrey




Thursday, July 8, 2021

We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do



Tonight’s Evening Program was the beginning of our annual U.N. Day competition, with our Field Games competition getting us started. Before talking about the games themselves, we have to start by talking about the sunset that provided such a beautiful backdrop to tonight’s events. I honestly think all the campers stopped their games at one point or another to take a look at this one tonight.

You’ll hear much more about U.N. Day in the coming days as it ramps up, but suffice to say, it is one of the biggest days of the camp calendar. The camp is divided into 4 “nations” joining in the spirit of healthy competition, but also togetherness and sportsmanship, for a full day of competition across the full spectrum of events that camp has to offer. This year’s event features the countries of Canada, Cypress, Russia and Ukraine. The “day” has gotten so big that we can’t even fit it all in one day anymore! So tonight kicked things off with our first official competitions: cornhole, Kan-Jam, bocce ball, croquet, distance running, and a giant 60 person game of Continuous Dodgeball. While these simple games might be fun enough themselves, the spirit of the campers makes the night. Some campers came in costume, others just brought their voices, but I assure you that you’ve never seen so much cheering for bocce ball and croquet.
 

And that same kind of spirit of togetherness was shining from other camp programming today too. Today the cabins of J-6 and S-3 returned from their camping trips, and yesterday J-5 returned from their canoe trip on the Upper Namekagon. All three of these trips, as well as S-4 which will return tomorrow, endured a cold and rainy day on Tuesday. And all of these cabins returned joyous and proud. While we know from their trip leaders that parts of the day on Tuesday were rough, the campers got out of the van telling triumphant stories of making fires with wet wood, paddling the rapids in the rain, using warm water bottles to heat their sleeping bags, and having completed their first portages. You can feel the tremendous satisfaction from the campers in the realization that they completed tasks that they previously thought themselves incapable of. There is a great concept called Type II fun, which refers to experiences that aren’t necessarily fun in the moment, but are fun in retrospect and fulfilling experiences. These moments teach all of us, especially kids, how to manage discomfort, adapt to change, find new solutions and take action - all core skills of building resilience. While they may have been challenged both physically and emotionally, they will long tell the stories of cutting up extra garbage bags to form new rain shelters, paddling directly into a headwind during the rain, singing songs to pass the time, and growing closer to their cabinmates and counselors while doing all that. When your boys get home and they tell you of their trials and tribulations in the backcountry, make sure to ask them what they learned about themselves, what they accomplished, and how they can use those skills in the future.

Morning Grace:
“Keep your face toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”
- Walt Whitman

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Wet & Wild Cruiser Day



Happy Cruiser Day from the Northwoods! As we mentioned last week, each Tuesday here is a bit different from the rest of the week and serves as a cabin day. But once per session, each village has a Village Cruiser Day. Today was the Intermediate Village. These days are so special because they allow the whole village to spend a full day together. The Intermediate Village (also known as “The Ridge”) was able to do things they would not normally do at camp and make incredible memories along the way. Despite a not-so sunny day, The Ridge kicked off the morning with a full water balloon fight on the athletic fields. Whether it was the rain or the water balloons, or the buckets of water that followed the water balloons, everyone was soaked by the end!

Next, everyone attended the first ever intermediate village carnival. The carnival had a bouncy castle, snow cone and popcorn machines, carnival games, and a dunk tank. Many of the campers particularly enjoyed making their counselors fall in at the dunk tank. The campers also had so much fun eating lots of sweets and winning lots of prizes made up of candy and small toys. We finished out the carnival with musical chairs and Bingo.

Finally, we ended the day with pizza from Coop’s Pizza in Hayward and a full scale all village dance party. Between glow sticks and costumes, the dance party had it all. That includes music too. The village danced to Tiktok songs and “Don’t Stop Believing” alike. Campers and counselors had so much fun today making amazing memories today. Their remarkable attitudes and wonderful enthusiasm made the whole day what it was.

While we say “It Never Rains at North Star,” the precipitation fell throughout the day. What it revealed was that the enthusiasm and the positivity of our amazing staff can bring fun and excitement to any situation. These guys are incredible role models for our boys, and teach them so much each day.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

The 4th of July



A very happy 4th of July from the Northwoods! Today has been full of patriotic music, healthy competition, goofy body paint, and very enthusiastic chanting. We started the morning with a reflection on what Independence Day means to us here at North Star. As a community centered around inclusivity, accountability, and kindness we want to celebrate our country in a way that is befitting of our North Star values. As we discussed prior to breakfast, our preamble states “in order to form a more perfect union,” but that takes constant work. The celebration takes on different meaning at camp as we also celebrate the 4th of July with campers and staff who come from other countries, and sharing in that process of cultural exchange is a unique part of our holiday.

The energy on the 4th of July is always fantastic. Breakfast comes with sparklers, whipped cream and a lot of music - Born in the USA, Party in the USA, Chicken Fried, and more. The boys come in their red, white and blue outfits and they are ready to dance.

After breakfast we spent the morning on the water, beginning with joining in for the Spider Lake Boat Parade and concluding with an Organized Free period. The afternoon was our Green-White Marathon, which is one of our most anticipated and exciting events of the summer. It is a relay race that includes nearly every event in camp. It starts with a running race and includes fun-bugging, swimming, canoeing, climbing, archery, riflery, biking, skipping, tent building, tennis volleying, bed making, basketball shooting, bucket filling, singing, and more, before leading to Boil Water Boil. In this final event, the whole camp gathers around as the two teams compete to build a fire that can boil a tin can full of water over the top first. It was a very close race with the Green team narrowly winning out at Boil Water Boil to win the Marathon.

For our evening program, counselors and campers played a game called Space Invaders where one counselor from every cabin was asked to pretend to be an alien and hide around camp’s property. The other counselor stayed with their cabin group to find the hiding aliens. As an alien, they could only make sounds, but did not speak or understand English. When the boys found and chased down each alien, they had to find a way to communicate with them and do a silly task in order to be released to find the other aliens. The counselors had just as great of a time as the campers, and this game got the campers running around camp once more before the final exciting event of the evening.

And finally, the right way to end the 4th of July is with fireworks! We all gathered on the tennis courts and watched a fantastic show out over the athletic fields.

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Pine Manor Goes West



We wanted to start by letting you know that our last round of 1st session Covid testing came back with all negative results!

Every year our oldest campers of Pine Manor embark on a nine day backcountry trip through Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. This year, with the US-Canada border still closed, Pine Manor’s Canadian became the Pine Manor Western. Our amazing trip staff worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to camp to put this trip together to ensure that our oldest boys had a capstone camping trip to remember for a lifetime.

The group left camp at 5:00am on June 23 on their charter bus and journeyed west to the Badlands in South Dakota. On they went to the Tetons in Wyoming, where they split into three groups for three days and took different routes on their backcountry hikes. Group came close to summiting Fremont Peak at 13,000 foot peak in Wyoming before turning around to get back to the campsite on time. Groups 2 and 3 hiked through a chain of beautiful lakes including Miller Lake, Eklund Lake, Hobbs Lake, and Barbara Lake. All of the campers, counselors, and trippers came back in awe of the wildlife and scenery they had experienced. “It was the hardest hiking I’ve ever done, but the best views I’ve ever seen,” said Ronan Schmidt.

The highlight for many Pine Manor campers was the second to last day of their trip. After hiking many miles over the past week and a half, the group did a white-water rafting trip in Wind River Canyon. Chase Anders and Zach Green noted that the white-water rafting trip was “immaculate” and was a welcome relief after 10 days without a shower. Other highlights included a moose “50 feet from our tent,” sleeping under the milky-way, hiking 18 miles in a day, Mount Rushmore, and a giant McDonald’s meal to close out the trip. They returned home late last night to a great welcoming from the rest of the campers as the left the bus and erupted in cheering V-I-L-L-A, Villa, Villa, All the Way.

The Pine Manor dinner table tonight was a popular attraction for our other campers as they regaled them with stories of their trip. Other snippets of their incredibly wise and intellectual camp conversations include “it felt like climbing Mt. Everest...but in my mind!” and “it was tremendously immaculate and exquisite.”

With cabin I-2 back from their trip this afternoon, we now have all, All, ALL of our campers back together at camp. We’re excited for a great 4th of July including the boat parade, the Green-White Marathon and Fireworks!

Today’s Grace:
“Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as mine,
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
You're surely looking fine!
Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,
If the bell doesn’t wake you then,
The counselors must,
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as,
your hair cut just as short as,
your hair cut just as short as mine.”










Friday, July 2, 2021

Attitude & Gratitude



During staff training we were lucky to host Dr. Deborah Gilboa (www.askdoctorg.com), resilience expert and family physician. She had a line that continues to stand out:
“You can’t control your emotions, but you can control your attitude, behavior and your purpose.”
Tonight’s Friday Night Service was entitled Positive Attitude, and as we gathered at the Council Ring on a beautiful summer evening our focus was discussing the impact a positive attitude can make on both the individual and the community. We had some great readings, poems, and a fantastic sermonette by Hayley Kretchmer. The music tonight featured the Camper Chorus singing Put a Little Love in Your Heart, the Counselor Chorus performed I Can See Clearly Now, and the musical selection was Keep On The Sunny Side which was a popular song from the late 1800s long before it was a cheer at camp responding to corny jokes. The service was built to teach that even though we will all feel negative emotions, we can choose to respond with a positive attitude.

One thing that helps maintain a positive attitude is gratitude. The staple of our Friday Night Services is called the Keylog Ceremony, and it is an opportunity to throw a stick into the fire that represents something that you are thankful for. While it is totally optional, the overwhelming majority of our campers and staff elect to go up in front of the whole camp and express their appreciation. Many of our youngest campers threw in keylogs for all of their new friends, their fantastic counselors, and even expressed their gratitude for their families back home for making it possible for them to come to camp. One of our first-time campers thanked his cabinmates and the whole staff for “making a place so far away feel like home.” Another first-time camper said that even though he had felt homesick, his keylog was for his “new friends and his counselors for being so supportive.” Taking this time to consider all that we have to be grateful for helps our whole community maintain a positive attitude, and is a practice that we hope our boys take with them wherever they go.

We were also grateful to see our Pine Manor campers return late this evening after their 10-day trip out West. More to come on that tomorrow…

Today’s Grace:
“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness in living within that environment”
- Marie Kondo

 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

All-Camp Games


It was another beautiful day here in the Northwoods! Our second week of activities is in full swing, and our boys have settled into their camp routines. And while the boys love their having their independence to choose their own activities throughout the day, they always relish the opportunities to come together for our campwide evening programs.

Today for our evening program we played Predator-Prey. Predator-Prey is an all-camp game where each cabin is assigned to play the role of either an herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. The theme this year is coral reef, so teams included the sea slugs, swordfish, seagulls, reef sharks, moon jellies, and clown fish. The teams need to collect a certain amount of resources (food, water, and shelter) based on their place in the food chain. When a team gets close enough to another group, the “instinct,” or team leader, blows a whistle and a 20 second game of tag ensues. Players move up and down the food chain based on whether they were “eaten” during tag. Players can also gather resources by finding signs around camp and singing a song about recycling when they get there.

If it sounds confusing, that is because it is. It’s some combination of capture the flag, dodgeball, hide and seek and an environmental education game. But it is a camper favorite at North Star. One of the things that the boys love so much is the opportunity to play across the age groups. Last night’s evening program was a similar style game called Infection. One person starts out as the infection and a game of blob tag erupts all over camp. The youngest campers chase down the oldest boys, and the oldest boys join the youngest campers in their excitement. That camaraderie builds throughout the summer and helps create our close-knit community.

We followed Predator-Prey with a debrief on our own Northwoods’ ecosystem and our role in upholding environmental stewardship. North Star is incredibly lucky to have two bald eagle nests in camp. Our fisherman witnessed a bald eagle swoop down just feet from their boat, pluck a fish out of the water, and fly off.

Bears, deer, mice, snakes, foxes, and eagles roam these woods and turtles, musky, and bluegills swim the lake. We are incredibly blessed to be located on our peninsula and Brewers Bay with hiking trails and rapids within an hour from us. We are even more blessed to have a group of staff and campers that appreciate the value of our environment and who responded with such enthusiasm to our environmental debrief.

Today’s Grace:
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on this earth.”
- Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Cruiser Day


Today marks our first Cruiser Day of summer 2021! Cruiser Day is a cabin day that typically takes place every Tuesday. Cruiser Days, which are almost like our weekend at camp, begin with a late wake-up with donuts, fruit, and cereal for breakfast. All activities for the day are structured within each cabin and some are a bit wackier than usual (more on that later). This Cruiser Day was also a Junior Village Cruiser Day, meaning our J-Village staff planned an incredible day of activities for “High School Day.” The staff divided the village into four high schools: Mercer Island High School, Deerfield High School, Bexley High School, and Mascoutah High School. Our junior campers got in the spirit of things by painting their high school’s colors across their faces, slogans painted on their stomachs, or goofy faces painted by friends on their backs. Mercer Island won a flag football tournament that thrilled the whole village. Other events included gaga ball, curtain ball, beach flags, and poster drawing competitions. Ultimately, Deerfield High School came away with the win on a day that ended for them with ice cream.

Our other villages were not without their share of wacky fun. Multiple cabins went tubing and others slid down the hill by the athletic fields on a slip-and-slide. Our fantastic staff took a pontoon boat out in the lake and we had cabins canoe out to get snacks and candy, others made mini pizzas on Tom’s Terrace, and S-2 had the privilege of participating in a spaghetti scavenger hunt. What is a spaghetti scavenger hunt? A plate of cold spaghetti with mini m&ms, dried cranberries, gummy bears, Charleston Chews, and more. If your camper has ever wanted to live out the spaghetti scene from Elf, North Star Camp is the place for them.

For dinners on Cruiser Day, every cabin cooks out their dinner over a campfire. We ended our first Cruiser Day with Tin Foil Surprise at our cabin cookouts. Each cabin gets potatoes, vegetables, hamburgers, cheese to wrap up in tinfoil and cook over the fire. Campers enjoy making funky shapes out of their tinfoil bundles and having the responsibility of making their own meal. The result is a delicious stew that is a classic favorite meal.

We return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with our next set of 3-day activities!


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Cabin Campfires and Unorganized Free



Camp alumni have long said that later in life, though they hadn’t noticed while they were enjoying their summers, they had come to realize that they had learned and grown more at camp than they had anywhere else. And while that is a great realization, we don’t believe that we have to keep this a secret from our campers. We want them to be party to this development that happens at camp. Sunday nights at North Star put an emphasis on that.

We begin our Sunday evening program with what we call Unorganized Free. Unstructured free play has tremendous benefits for kids of all ages, and those times have been disappearing for kids with perilous effects (read here, here or here). Unorganized free is meant to combat that. The rules are simple: Go Outside and Play. This is not something kids are used to hearing these days. In a world where their schedules are getting tighter and the stress levels are getting higher, this child-directed free play was an exciting, out of the box experience. There were two rules - 1) Everybody had to be outside, and 2) The counselors are to supervise for safety, not to play or organize. At announcements, one of the Junior Village campers asked, “Does that mean we could play a huge game of hide and seek?” The kids went crazy when we told them that that is exactly what they should be doing.

The second part of our Sunday evening was Cabin Campfires, which are designed to help our boys process their experience, build self awareness, and teach so much more. Much like our opening night candlelight ceremonies, these "cabin meetings" are an opportunity for open, honest communication and sharing. So every cabin took to their campsite, built a campfire, and began this fireside chat. The format was as follows:

1) Accomplishments - everyone should take a moment to recognize the things they have accomplished in this past week.
2) Compliments - a chance for cabinmates to praise the positive things they have seen in each other.
3) Personal Growth - a time for each person to consider a way in which they have grown or a lesson that they have learned in the past week
4) Discussion - an opportunity for the group to discuss issues, problems or challenges and work together to find solutions.
5) Reflection - a few dedicated minutes of time to one's self to think about how to better friend, cabinmate and camper in the coming week.
6) Goal Setting - to conclude with a tangible plan for the week ahead with both individual and group goals.
7) S'mores - how else could you end a campfire?

With both the Unorganized Free and the Cabin Campfires, we were upfront with the boys about why we were doing what we were doing. Not only did they understand it, they appreciated it. We heard from many of our campers how nice it was to be able to have time like this, where they could just be kids in the woods. And many of our staff explained that this time has been of tremendous importance to them as campers and counselors alike.

Today’s Grace:
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
- Nelson Mandela


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Exploring Their Own Interests


We are pleased to report that everyone has again tested negative for COVID-19! We are so appreciative of SHIELD Illinois for making it possible to complete accurate, 3-gene, saliva PCR testing with same-results. This process has been a game changer for us and many camps throughout the Midwest. While it’s still not a certainty, knowing that all of our campers have now tested negative for COVID 3-times in 7 days gives us a great deal of confidence that we did not have any cases of COVID-19 come into camp with our campers. 

With that news, we now begin our regularly scheduled program! One of the things that makes the North Star program unique is that we offer our boys a great deal of choice. Today was the first typical day at camp, with the boys choosing much of their day for themselves. On a typical day, we have five periods between breakfast and dinner. 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 believe that camp is meant to be a place where the boys explore their own interests, and that is what the program is designed to do. We have some boys who will choose to be on the water all day, where others will choose the fields. Some will live at the target sports and others will gravitate towards the creative arts. And those same boys might see their interests evolve over the years as they try new things and grow as people. 

We tremendously value having all types of kids at North Star, and allowing our kids to flourish at camp regardless of their interests is an important part of creating that environment. Young male friendships are so often based on having a shared interest or activity, and while that isn’t irrelevant in adulthood, the most lasting relationships in life are built on mutual trust and respect, kindness and compassion for one another. From the outside, it may look like the boys simply spend the day climbing the wall and waterskiing, but they are participating in a program that is designed to teach not only the activity specific skills, but life skills that will stick with them far beyond.


Today’s Grace:
“If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
- Tallulah Bankhead


The Friendship Fire


Every year since North Star started in 1945, the first Friday night service of the summer is the Friendship Fire. On Friday nights, we take a break from the energetic, loud and often silly tone that camp tends to have and spend the evening in a more reflective and formal time. To set the tone for the evening, the campers are encouraged to “dress up,” which means a polo or a button down, or at least an unstained shirt. Friday night dinners are roast beef, vegetables, potatoes and applesauce, and after dinner, we gather around the flagpole for cabin reports, a patriotic song, the pledge of allegiance and the lowering of the flag. And then we head out to the Council Ring.

In talking about friendship, we are talking about our expectations as a community about how people treat one another here. At the end of the service, we asked the boys to explain what being a friend means to them. Campers of all ages contributed: treat people the way we want to be treated, understand that none of us are perfect, give friends the same compassion we should give ourselves when we make mistakes, value empathy, recognize other people’s feelings, and hold each other accountable for these values. All of these actions, identified by the campers, are what creates the compassionate, inclusive environment that encourages our boys to become kind, thoughtful men. 

Our keylog ceremony at the Friendship Fire asks that a representative from each city throw a stick into the fire to represent that bond of friendship between their city and North Star Camp. We acknowledged how lucky we are to gather together with friends from all over the country and the world, and we also acknowledged the members of our community who still can’t be with us because of pandemic travel restrictions. We heard poems and songs, stories and a wonderful sermonette on North Star friendships by Adam Shore. And every Friday Night concludes with singing Forest Green, Taps and reciting our Camper Benediction.

But before the serenity of a Friday Night sunset at the Council Ring, we had a fun-filled beautiful day in the Northwoods. J-5 and J-6 were able to get in some tubing. J2- and J-4 had canoeing lessons in preparation for their camping trips. Campers participated in soccer, chess, riflery, swimming, floor hockey, arts and crafts, and of course played with the baby chicks. Today was our final day of cabin based activities and the boys are very much looking forward to starting their individual choice activities tomorrow. 

Today’s Grace:
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
- Hamlet in Shakespeare

 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Challenge Games, Green-White, Camping Trips and More


First, we get to report that everyone tested negative for Covid! We received yesterday’s test results late last night, which allows us to move into our second phase of our Covid-prevention plans, including individual choice activities beginning on Saturday. For our vaccinated campers, this means no more drooling from here on out. Our next round of SHIELD testing will be on Saturday.

In other news, an overnight rain gave way to a beautiful day in the Northwoods today, and it’s hard to beat the enthusiasm of an 80-degree day with puddles to play in. In the afternoon we had our first challenge games where one representative from each cabin goes in front of camp at announcements and challenges another cabin to a game or an activity. The boys love this opportunity to speak in front of the whole crowd and put their humor on display. After the roasting, the boys proceed to the fun of playing the games, but today some of the boys played those games a bit differently. Soccer involved some puddle jumping and volleyball had some mud slinging, all with very dirty and very happy boys.

This evening, we began our Green-White festivities for the year with the announcement of teams for our first year campers. Campers are placed on Green-White teams during their first summer and those teams remain for the remainder of their North Star careers. Regular competitions, Green-White Series, the Green-White Marathon, games of All-Camp Capture the Flag, the Camper-Counselor Hunt, the Dodgeball Extravaganza and many more great activities will be a part of our ongoing Green-White competition through the summer. 

Whether it’s challenge games, Green-White, or any other activities in which we compete, our philosophy on competition remains a core tenet of our life at camp. At its simplest, our expectations for how people should treat each other do not change during a sporting event or another competition. It is possible to compete hard and be kind at the same time, especially at camp. We ask the boys to remember that they are playing with their friends - they are their friends before the game, during the game, and everyone should behave in such a way that they continue to be friends after the game. In practice, that means supporting each other, teammate or opponent, both through their successes and their failures. 

Before the day was really underway, cabins S-1, S-2 and I-6 departed on their camping trips. The boys who recently completed 8th grade embarked on their hiking trips on the Superior Hiking Trail, while I-6 (recently completed 6th grade) left for their canoe trip on the Flambeau River.

Yesterday, our Pine Manor campers (recently completed 9th grade) left on their Western adventure through the Badlands, the Grand Tetons, Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore with hiking, whitewater rafting and more. The first reports from the trip were ecstatic, with plenty of bison among the beautiful sights they’ve already seen. We look forward to sharing more about this cool trip!



Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Second Full Day of Camp!


Our second full day of the first session was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for getting into our first day of activities and Intermediate and Junior Village swim tests! We also began the day with our first round of Covid testing at camp, so before breakfast our boys lined up and drooled into vials like they did leading up to camp. We’re looking forward to getting the results back late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Even though the day started out a bit chilly, by 10:30 the sun was out and made it the perfect weather to jump into the lake for swim tests. Our cabin groups also found time for riflery, throwing the frisbee, games of 500 and stand-up paddle boarding. Our J2 campers spent first period climbing with staff members Ari and Red at the climbing wall. Each time one of the campers reached the top, the staff would call out, “Where is the party at?” and without fail the boys would yell back, “It’s at the top of the wall!” They all had big grins on their faces as they looked back down. 

 We were so proud of all of the campers as they took their swim tests today. Swimming in a lake is always a little different than swimming in a pool but many of our campers pushed through their nerves to succeed.  

Perhaps the most thrilling moments of the day, however, happened right in front of the Lodge after lunch. A snapping turtle ambled through camp to stir up some fanfare. The turtle, affectionately named Titanium, was escorted to North Lake a few miles from camp.



We ended the day on a high note with our first Wanegan of the session and Staff Talent Show. Wanegan is the Ojibwe word for “store.” At camp, we have a Wanegan King who helps oversee the passing out of candy each week. Tonight, our new Wanegan King wore an inflatable shark costume as he defeated all of the surrounding counselors in a mock battle for the throne. After our sweet treats, all campers and staff watched some great skits and musical talent during the Staff Talent Show. It was a great way for the kids to cheer on their counselors and meet the rest of the staff as we continue to get into our groove.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Summer of 2021 Has Begun!


Let us begin with a note of gratitude for our incredible camp families. North Star has always been the camp known for having nice boys from nice families, and that has been on full display as we’ve navigated the last 15 months. I don’t think anyone ever intended for camp to unofficially begin with the boys drooling in Schaumburg, and we are so appreciative of you for dealing with the inconveniences and sacrifices required to help camp operate safely. Whether you are a longtime North Star parent or 2021 is your first summer, we are thankful that you have chosen to trust us with your boys, for your commitment to the camp family, and for working with us to provide a fun, meaningful and developmental camp experience for your sons. And, we are thrilled to report that 100% of the Covid tests came back negative by midnight last night. 

And now it’s on to the fun and excitement of camp! By 3pm, we were gathered around the flagpole to announce the cabins in full with all campers and staff in attendance. The big hugs and village cheers were a reminder of the pure joy that camp gives every one of our campers. And as the boys headed off toward their cabins, North Star’s 77th summer was officially underway. The cabin list is attached.

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. 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. 

The pandemic has left the boys missing opportunities for socialization. Not only will camp provide that in spades, but we are determined to work actively and intentionally with the campers to coach them up to age appropriate levels of social and emotional intelligence. During orientation we worked with Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a physician and resilience expert, to learn the ways in which campers can be taught the skills that make them resilient. We worked with specialists in Arts Integrated Education from Bubbles Academy who taught our counselors how to use art, comedy, and improv to teach social skills. When we send the boys back home to you at the end of the summer, we know that you will see a difference in their social skills and their emotional intelligence.

Tomorrow the kids will have a busy day as our amazing medical team checks in the boys. The campers will take a swim test either tomorrow or Wednesday, 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. First thing on Wednesday morning the boys will begin their first week of regular activities. Wednesday morning our oldest campers will leave for their National Park adventure, where they will spend 10 days visiting the Grand Tetons, Badlands, Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Whitewater rafting and more. While our oldest boys usually do a 10-day Canadian trip where they canoe and portage through Quetico Provincial Park, the pandemic has taught us how to adapt. Some of our 8th graders (we use the grade they just completed) will leave Thursday for their trip on the Superior Hiking Trail. 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 2021 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!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Introducing our 2021 Counselors!


 

Our counselors have been in training for the past two weeks preparing for our boys' arrival! They have been working to make sure that when our campers get here everything from the waterfront to the archery range is in top shape. The past couple of weeks we have had improv shows, talent shows, covid protocol workshops, activity preparation, basketball tournaments, and lots of delicious food. While it has been a blast, we cannot wait for our campers to come by trains, planes or automobiles to the northwoods of Wisconsin.

Only three days until the start of our first session!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


 Our staff has been at camp for a full work week as of this Friday, though we define “work” a little differently over here. This first week we have been focused on getting to know each other and creating a wonderful community for our staff and campers. At each meal, Dan puts out name tags (written on keylogs) on the tables so staff have had the opportunity to sit with different people each meal. Our goal is to take our staff of 115 wonderful individuals and create a single community. 



Over the past three nights, we have facilitated discussions that have allowed our staff to open up to each other, have a better understanding of what makes us different, and, in turn, what brings us all together. Thursday night our staff headed up to the tennis courts to participate in an inclusion activity. We lined up on the line separating the two courts as Molly Montgomery, one of our Health Aides, read out statements, such as “I have a skill that I can contribute to the North Star community,” or “North Star actively fights against racism and other forms of discrimination.” Our staff would move to the side designated to agree or disagree. When Molly stated “I have a friend here,” and “I have someone here I can talk to,” even though we’re only a few days in, the entire staff agreed. 

As Molly asked us to point to the person they could confide in, people lifted both arms, turned in circles to find multiple people, and the warmth and compassion of this community was easy to see. With still 9 days left before our boys arrive, our staff continues to learn more about each other and themselves. 

Yesterday we had the pleasure of listening to Brian Corley, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Single Story Inc. Brian specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion training in professional environments, schools, and diversity policies. He took us through a series of exercises to reflect on our own cultural differences, from how individualistic or collective our mindsets are, how we react to informality versus a hierarchy, and even how we perceive a person late to a meeting. This was part of our continuing mission to create a more diverse and inclusive community.


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Building Resilience


 As we work to prepare our fantastic staff for the arrival of the boys, we wanted to pay special attention to the unique needs that come with the Summer of 2021. Under normal circumstances, our campers arrive after a year in a classroom, sprinkled with extracurriculars and other opportunities, and a year spent learning and socializing in conventional ways. This year is different. Many of our boys have not been in classrooms, cafeterias, soccer fields, after school programs or their friends' houses. We don’t pretend to know everything else your family has experienced in the past 15 months, but we are working hard to ensure that our 110 acres are the active, positive, nurturing and fun environment that will allow our campers to thrive. 

Because we know the campers' education (social, emotional and academic) has been disrupted this past year, we invited Dr. Deborah Gilboa, M.D., an expert in child development, parenting, and resilience, to speak to our staff. She joined us for breakfast by the lake and presented about stress, why it is necessary, and how campers will experience it over the summer. Our boys will experience stress this summer, whether it be nerves about getting up the climbing wall, trying a new food, learning how to portage a canoe, or simply making a new friend. 



Dr. Gilboa explained to our staff the eight skills of resilience and our staff participated in parallel activities that encouraged vulnerability, team work, communication, creative problem solving, and a little bit of roof ball. When reacting to a difficult situation, your camper might be frustrated with their tennis stroke, feel cheated in a game of Euchre, or feel upset with a person in their cabin, Dr. G stressed three things that you always have control over: behavior, attitude, and purpose. Regardless of the situation, these three things are always in your control and we’re going to work to work to teach each camper how to do these things.

Dr. Gilboa and our staff were troopers through the heat wave, but Dr. G, putting her resilience training and creative problem solving into action, surprised our sweaty staff with the last lesson in the water at Swim Point. While the camp dogs were less attentive listeners than our staff, they too participated in many of our activities and are looking forward to an active, exciting summer with our boys. 

Ultimately, we want your campers to grow as problem solvers, friends, cabinmates, and caring, confident individuals. For the next 11 days until camp, our staff are training, bonding, and practicing skills to help your children bounce back from failure, feel comfortable to make mistakes, make friends and have fun.

Today's Grace:

"If we have our own 'why' in life, we shall shall get along with almost any how."

-Fredrich Nietzsche


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 - http://bit.ly/NSC_MM21
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:
https://campforallkids.org/events/march-madness-2021/

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.