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.

From here on out, you can follow along with the summer of 2022 on our website at We will also be posting updates on Facebook at, on Twitter at , and on Instagram @northstarcamp.
We post pictures online on a regular basis, and you can access those directly from your CampInTouch page. To access your CampInTouch page, go to and click "login" in the upper right hand corner. From there you can click on "Photos" to see those smiling faces. If you'd like to set up guest accounts for friends or family you can do that from your landing page by clicking on "Guest Accounts."

Thank you for trusting us with your boys!