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200pixpic099Life at camp, or as we call it, life inside "The Starfish Bubble," is different than anywhere else! Campers try things they wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole at home or school, like getting in a harness and climbing a tree to the high ropes course or getting on stage and performing in a talent show. They make friends, spend time with others in a fun and safe environment, and live in a community focused on learning, growing and having fun! 

While Starfish in many ways is similar to a "traditional camp" with campfires, activities, swimming, etc., there are lots of things we do differently. This section will tell you all about that. 

 

Learn more about the camp day, activities, schedule, cabin life, and life in general at Starfish by clicking on any of the categories below:

One to One Ratio

200pixpic062Always means always. We're one-to-one, all the time, always. That doesn't mean including maintenance staff and directors, either. We have one counselor for every camper, plus a team of 12+ leadership and supervisory staff, plus our directors, plus our nurse and support staff. Why?

It's not because every single one of our campers needs that amount of supervision or support minute-to-minute. But many of them do need the flexibility it provides - such as the ability to have a counselor and a member of our camper services team be able to stay back with a camper having a hard time making the transition to the next activity...while allowing the rest of the group to move on. Why not just ask everyone to wait? Well, perhaps that camper might need a few minutes to talk things through. Maybe another member of the group gets anxious waiting around when he's been assured that the group is leaving to get to swimming and worries about being late or missing out. Most importantly, for the safety of campers and staff, we're never alone with kids. There's always a second set of eyes and ears around to offer a helping hand.

And, while not every camper needs one-to-one, they all benefit from it in many ways. We believe that being able to give each camper positive attention and engagement at all times eliminates the need for behaviors based on negative attention-seeking, and allows us to quickly and effectively get to work on other behavior and goals. We also realize and capitalize on the fact that campers make solid, fast bonds with staff (and vice versa!) which opens their minds to hearing feedback and making changes - because the suggestions and assistance comes from someone they're working hard to impress! We're not one-on-one, so campers aren't assigned one staff member that's "theirs" for the session. In fact, they have a different staff member as their free-play buddy every day, staff they eat with, bunk staff, activity staff, etc. But they know no matter what, there's an ear to listen to them, and a hand to hold. That's why we're 1:1.

Our Camp Staff

Picture18Because our goal is to have staff on camp that are well-trained and confident in their abilities to create a wonderful experience for campers, all of our staff attend an intensive pre-camp training program which lasts at least 10 days and nights (and longer for lifeguards and supervisory staff). We cover an amazing amount of information during this time, including camp policies and procedures, child abuse awareness, basic safety, first aid and health care, waterfront safety training, teambuilding workshops, risk management, behavior management including extensive work with the Starfish Tools, Keys and Strategies, child and group development, outdoors orientation (campfires, etc.), how to effectively lead a group and activities, diversity, conflict resolution, bullying, teaching social interaction, practicing how to structure camper activities and learning the daily routines and camp traditions.

Before staff training even begins, our hiring process ensures that the staff working with your child are mature, professional, creative and caring, amongst many other talents and qualities. Staff complete an application, supply three written professional references (each of which is checked personally by a member of our year-round team) and have at least one interview. All staff are throroughly background checked, including a CORI (criminal record check), SORI (sexual offender record check), national data check, and others. We take the hiring and screening of our staff very, very seriously, and we are proud to hear repeatedly from campers, parents and members of the community that our staff really shine! 

Activity Areas

Activities at Starfish are fun - and help children to build individual life skills, stay active, practice the Tools, and improve their social pragmatics. Depending on their enrolled program, campers attend between 3 and 6 activity periods a day, including swim lessons. Activity areas include:

athletics

Athletics

instruction, drills, team play, individual sports, soccer, basketball, "tension tennis", flag-football, whiffleball, cricket, running club, ultimate frisbee, obstacle course, GaGa, and much more. Creativity is our only limit when it comes to planning activities to keep campers active!

craft Arts & Crafts drawing, painting, string crafts, papercrafting, stamping, murals, clay, lanyard, design, beading, jewelry making, and all kinds of hands-on activities designed to help campers build their artistic eye!
dance Dance & Movement dance styles, dance games, yoga, breakdancing, freeze dance, rhythm games, ribbons, baton twirling, talent show act practice, choreography and other activities designed to get kids active in creative movement.
discovery Discovery woodworking, manipulatives, raft-building, and activities designed to help campers discover new hobbies, interests and talents
drama Drama & Improv camp play, improv games, voice games, talent show practice, one-act skits, playwriting and other activities designed to engage campers' acting talents
interactive Interactive Teambuilding, Challenge Initiatives, Low Ropes Course, ToolsTime, and other activities designed to practice teamwork and intercommunication skills
LC Learning Center reading, multicultural activities, chess, science experiments, yearbook, creative writing, languages, CSI, mock trial, and other activities designed to minimize summer learning loss
outdoors Outdoor Skills tent building, survival structures, outdoor cooking, campfire building, and activities designed to foster an enjoyment of outdoor living
woodico rabbit Small Animals visit the Starfish Menagerie and meet our animal friends, learn how to take care of them, help feed them, and take them on walks around camp!
waterfront Waterfront Daily individualized swim instruction, free swim, kayaking, canoeing, tubing, relays, water sports (volleyball, etc.), diving, beach (sandcastles, etc.) and other activities designed to teach water safety skills
xplore

Xplore!

nature, hiking, gardening, bug hunts, fishing, recycling, blueberry picking, tree transplanting, green living, and activities designed to learn about the natural world
music Music instruments, guitar lessons, drumming, rhythm, junk band, singing, songwriting, talent show practice

 

In addition to the activity times each day, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy additional activities and events on camp, such as during Free Play, Evening Program, Jamboree (a special day when the entire cabin hangs out together and creates their own schedule of activities) and more! Some of these options include:

 

Beach Time

Zen Gardens Game Playce Basketball Tournament Canoe to Blueberry Island
Creative Writing Salon Night Let's Make A Deal Fishing Campfire & S'mores
Overnight Camp-Out Group Games Curious Creatures GaGa Ball Field Day
Carnival Dance Party Book Nook Stargazing Bubble Party
Peace Games Connect-4 Tournament Talent Show Sunset Kayaking Inflate-a-Day

 

 

Tag Up Program

tagup logoAt Starfish, we know that being recognized for effort is just as important as being recognized for achievement. For some campers, achievement at high levels in a single activity area is a great source of pride. For other campers, participating in a range of activities and trying new things is a goal. No matter what the intention, the Tag↑Up program allows campers to see tangible results of their time and effort, provides a chance for campers to mentor others and opens up avenues of conversation surrounding shared interests - a key social skill.

tagsEach activity area at camp has a set of levels which we call "Tags." When campers achieve new levels, they receive recognition at an all-camp gathering and receive a small "Tag" to add to their collection. Staff also record Tag achievements in camper records and a copy of their Tag is hung on the TagBoard where it becomes part of a permanent display for all of camp to see. Each activity area also has special rituals for Tag Achievement - for example, at the waterfront, everyone stops and sings a congratulations song!

Click any image below to learn more about our Tag↑Up program!

tagdescription  Read the introduction and details behind the Tag↑Up program.
tagsbyarea Check out this picture-grid of all currently available Tags, separated by activity area. Don't see one that looks interesting? Well, we try new things at camp, so maybe you will too... or, you can create your own!
tagguide Each Tag has what we call a Tag Guide - a corresponding master explanation for how each of its six levels can be earned. Some campers like to read over this info; others get the information verbally from counselors or in a simpler text format which shows one level at a time. Click to view the Tag Guide for the Learning Center - Experiments.

 

Tag↑Up is about personal motivation, not about competition.
One of the most-used Starfish tools is "we try our best, we don't have to be the best." During staff training, we teach it as "we honor attitude over aptitude." Positive encouragement for effort, attitude, intention and honest work are always recognized and rewarded. Some of the Tags our first-year campers will find most appealing are ones they earn without conscious action - such as trying 10 new camp activities. As campers transition upwards through Pioneers, Navigators, and into the teen programs, opportunities to "Create Your Own Tag" open up to encourage pursuit of individual interests, and older campers have opportunities to mentor new campers working to achieve tags they themselves received years before.

Special Events

Some days during the session, special activities for the entire camp are held during an activity period. Campers and staff look forward to these times where the entire camp community comes together to sing, have campfires and more!

200pixpic101On night 3 or 4, the staff entertain campers at the Counselor Talent Show. Counselors put on simple skits and performances. The intention is certainly to entertain - but more importantly, also to show campers that it's okay to have fun, be silly, and get up in front of others. During the session, many campers choose to practice skits they have seen counselors do - or create their own performance - for the end-of-session Camper Talent Show. Campers are often so positively affected by their experience that, confidence brimming, they perform their act again at the Sharing Show on Visiting Day.

Peace Games is our end-of-session "everyone wins, spirit is what's important" camp Olympics, including cheering, relays, and ceremony. Red team or Blue team are both great and they come together to make the official Peace Games color - purple! Often we have special visitors, too, like Twister from the Worcester Tornadoes (who teaches us about sportsmanship) and Girls at Work (which teaches girls woodworking and woodcraft skills). Curious Creatures - a favorite - comes once a session so we can all "try new things" like getting up-close-and-personal with a chinchilla or...gasp...a snake!

Free-Play

200pixpic120During this time, which happens twice daily (once after lunch and once after dinner), the Book Nook and Game Playce are open for games and reading; the basketball court is always hopping with activity, arts-n-crafts is open, and the field usually offers an organized sport or game. Each day, different clubs and specials are offered - including chess tournaments, crafts, theater games, running club, origami, kite-making, ping-pong tournament, language, songwriting, etc.

Free Play begins with the Free Play Meeting on the blacktop with the whole camp. During the Meeting, announcements are made, special activities available are revealed, and the Free Play song is sung. Also at each meeting, campers are reminded of boundaries and expectations. Free Play is a confidence-building time for campers, with twice-daily opportunities to practice making good choices and having positive social interactions.

The Buddy and Security Post System
All Pioneers, most Navigators, and some teen campers (depending on their level) are paired with a staff Buddy during Free Play. Campers have the same Buddy for the day during AM and PM Free Play, and a new Buddy the next day. Buddies travel around camp with their campers, encouraging them to pick activities and think through how they spend their hour -and of course participating with them! Campers who have been at camp for at least one summer (and therefore have experience with the Free Play expectations) and who show significant maturity and appropriate behavior can earn their "Explorer" status, an additional level of independence which does not require them to have a Buddy at their side.

During Free Play some staff, instead of being a Buddy, have "security posts" - they are spread out on the main paths of camp at pre-set locations. Each Security Post can see the ones to either side of them - so they maintain a chain of visual contact and constant supervision as Explorers and Buddy Pairs walk from place to place. In this way, Explorers are never unsupervised and Buddies are never alone with children.

Cabin Life (Main Camp, ages 6-13)

cabin5Starfish cabins for our 6-13 year old campers are comfortable and rustic, with electricity. Cabin groups are intentionally small - so campers can feel comfortable building social skills without becoming overwhelmed. In all cabins, campers sleep on the bottom bunk with a counselor occupying the top bunk above them. That means even at night, there is a staff member just a reach away. The cabins are arranged in a circular "village" which includes a washhouse with toilets, sinks and showers. Campers can easily access bathrooms at night. Staff-on-duty in the bunk will either accompany the camper or watch from the doorway of the cabin (depending on the camper's preference and age), then tuck the camper back in to bed. Cabins have a central floor space for nightly cabin meetings, playing cards and games, dance parties or reading.

Everyone makes their bed daily as part of cabin clean-up. Each camper and staff member also has a cubby with labeled shelves to help them organize their clothing and personal belongings. Staff help campers unpack on the first day into their cubbies, and then baggage is stored elsewhere on camp. On the boys side of camp (Fish Village), cabins have 5 bunk beds, and usually five campers. Five counselors live in the cabin on top bunks. Additionally, all Fish cabins have at least one female staff member, and, depending on the ages and needs of the campers in the bunk, sometimes more. On the girls side of camp (Star Village), cabins have 7 bunk beds, and usually 6-7 campers. Seven female staff members live in the cabin on top bunks. Unlike in Fish Village where our cabin staff's are coed, Star Village is girls-only. 

Click to see the layout of Star Village (Girls) cabins or Fish Village (Boys) cabinsA new window will open. 

You can also view more pictures of Main Camp by clicking here then choosing "Main Camp" from the drop-down menu. 

Cabin Life (Teen Camp, ages 14-16+)

Crescent Lodge - OCP & l.e.a.d.e.r.s.

FACILITY 074Our teen living spaces are on the Crescent side of campus. OCP & L.e.a.d.e.r.s. teens live alongside staff in Crescent Lodge, a dorm-style facility with four "cabin rooms" of varying size. Located near the Menagerie (where our small animals program is based) Crescent Lodge is a 3600+ square foot dorm-style building, which opened in Summer 2017. It includes creature comforts that teens will welcome, including indoor restrooms and air conditioning. Like in our main camp cabins, Crescent rooms have a central floor space for nightly cabin meetings, playing cards and games, dance parties or just hanging out. As on main camp, our cabin groups are kept intentionally small - so teens can feel comfortable building social skills without becoming overwhelmed. In Crescent Lodge, teens may earn the privilege of having a top bunk (a big upgrade from their camper cabins!), though staff still occupy half the bunks in each cabin room. That means even at night, there is a staff member just a reach away. Crescent Lodge includes 4 indoor restrooms, each with 2 stalls and sinks. The two upstairs bathrooms also have individual shower stalls with private changing spaces. The restrooms and dorm rooms are separated by gender.

Just like in the main camp cabins, everyone makes their bed daily as part of cabin clean-up. Each teen and staff member also has a cubby with labeled shelves and under-bed bins to help them organize their clothing and personal belongings. Staff help campers unpack on the first day into their cubbies and bins, and then baggage is stored elsewhere so it does not clutter up the living space. 

Crescent Lodge also includes a commercial kitchen and its own dining room where the teens will eat, a lounge, and an indoor activities room. You can view more pictures of Crescent Lodge by clicking here then choosing "Crescent Camp & Conference Center" from the drop-down menu. 


The Grove - Beachcombers

tents grovediscoeedBeachcombers live in the Grove, our outdoor-adventure housing base located "off the beaten path" near the Menagerie. The Grove is equipped with two weather-safe platform tents and an outside kitchen where they cook their own meals over the campfire and using outdoor stoves, with careful supervision and hand-over-hand assistance from staff. They sometimes eat in the Crescent Lodge dining room with the other teen campers, and they use the Lodge showers as needed. The Grove also has access to an outdoor Biffy (toilet and handwashing station) so there are no long treks to the facilities at night. Each tent has comfortable bunk-bed style cots with organizing systems and cubbies for all the teens' gear. The beds are very versatile, can hold mosquito netting (provided), and can even turn into a couch during the day! Most Beachcombers choose to sleep on a self-inflating sleep mat on top of the cot, with a sleeping bag and blanket for warmth. As with all of our programs, staff sleep in the housing unit and are available all night long. 

 

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