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About Our Programs

Although each child's program at Starfish is individualized and each child works on independent goals, our programs have a set of overarching goals that guide our activity offerings, program development and daily camp life. At a glance, these goals are:


1. Build self-confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem.

2. Decrease self-imposed limits and try new things.

3. Utilize individual daily living skills and develop healthy living habits.

4. Cultivate a “winners’ attitude.”

5. Develop ability to make good choices, formulate independent decisions and take responsibility for actions.

6. Develop new and augment current coping techniques that allow for increased emotional, social and behavioral coherence.

7. Expand appreciation for the outdoors, including physical activity and natural surroundings.

8. Enhance social competence and expand the desire for social interaction.

9. Show respect for the diversity of others and a desire to protect others from bullying or harassment.

10. Facilitate cooperation by working as a team and interacting positively in a community setting.

Each of these goals has related objectives that clarify the growth that we hope to see campers developing as they work on aspects of these goals. As an example, for Goal 8, "enhance social competence and expand the desire for social interaction," related outcomes include:

    1. Campers will be able to name at least two other campers with whom they have spent quality time interacting, and
    2. Campers will be able to verbalize to a staff member or parent the interests of two campers that are both similar to, and different from, their own (idenfying four interests in total).

Click here to download a PDF listing all 10 Starfish Program Goals, their related objectives, and the rationale behind why they are included on our list.


B200pix05"Structure" is something we believe in very strongly at Camp Starfish, because we know children thrive on it! They need routines to help them feel safe in a stable, predictable environment. Plus, our campers learn through repetition. When the campers know what to expect, then they know what to do, and then they can do the right thing and enjoy success. Anxieties are minimized, and so are the resulting behaviors.

Although activities change from day to day, campers know that, for example, "swimming is always after 2nd activity" and the time that each activity starts and ends is the same each day. Transitions between places are forecasted multiple times - partway through the activity, again 10 minutes before clean-up, two minutes before clean-up, etc. Even though campers don't wear watches, this consistency helps considerably to calm anxiety and hyperactivity.

100 0371While campers feel supported and comforted by the structure, it is very intentionally integrated into our program such that camp still feels very much like "camp." Our basic structure is adjusted for each gender, age and camper group appropriately. Your child's counselors, supervised closely by administrators, will have an active role in setting the structure for their group. For example, while groups generally walk in a line together, a day camp group of five year olds might play red light green light to get to the next place or turn their line into a train and give each person a role (caboose, conductor, etc.), while a group of older campers may talk individually with counselors or chat with friends about the upcoming activity.

Outside activity areas, like Arts and Crafts, staff have a set structure to introduce the day's activity to each group. For our younger campers, they will lead a song, tell campers about the project of the day then "check for 100 0454understanding" by asking each camper in turn to repeat an instruction they've just been given before they head inside to start. With older campers, they may ask for volunteers to remind everyone of the expectations instead. Other examples of structure include the way we open waterfront activities (campers line up with their swim counselor after sharing one of the rules they remember with the group), or how we sit camper-counselor-camper-counselor around the lunch table so everyone can be included in the conversation and have a helping hand nearby.

Structures are reviewed daily by group counselors and cabin staff, as well as by leadership staff, to ensure that they are continuously meeting the needs of the campers, and adjusted accordingly.  

Sample Weekend Schedule

This is a sample of a Weekenders Schedule for October:

FRIDAY          100 0145
6:00 - 6:30 PM Arrival at Camp
6:00 - 6:30 PM Chill/Free Play 


Unpacking & Getting Settled
6:30 - 7:15 PM Expectations, Gathering, Dinner
7:30 PM Change into PJ's / Movie Night!

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9:00 AM Wakeup 
9:15 AM Gathering/Breakfast
Pack up picnic lunches for later
10:00 AM Field Time - GaGa, Soccer, etc.

10:45 AM

Activity Choice # 1
12:00 PM Field Trip meeting, get ready to go
12:30 PM Leave for field trip 
Picnic lunch, outdoor games
Field Trip - Apple & Pumpkin Picking
4:30 PM Return to camp
Snack & Rest time, Showers
6:00 PM Free Play
6:45 PM Wash up / Gathering / Dinner
7:30 PM Campfire-n-s’mores
8:00 PM Ready for Bed Routine, Bunk Chill



9:00 AM Wakeup
9:15 AM Gathering/Breakfast
9:45 AM Homework & Reading time or LC-style activity
10:30 AM Activity Choice # 2 (field games, canoeing, arts-n-crafts, etc)
12:00 PM Gathering / lunch
12:40 PM Bunk clean up and packing
1:30 PM Outdoor time, goodbyes  
2:00 - 2:30 PM Departure/Pick-ups  


Tuition & What's Included

100 0103The Weekenders cost includes meals, snacks, activities, field trips, project supplies and staff supervision. If you receive agency funds to help cover respite costs, Starfish is happy to work with you and your agency to determine the best method for billing and payments.

Tuition for 2019 Weekends: $550

Is Weekenders Right For My Camper?

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How is camp different from Weekenders programming?
Starfish is proud to be a program where campers with diverse needs can find success and have safe fun. While our summer camp programs are extremely highly structured and tightly scheduled, our respite program is significantly more low-key.
At Weekenders, our day has a schedule that is forecasted and previewed for campers, but activity periods are more loosely organized; for example, if campers choose to sit out and watch a kickball game, they will be encouraged to join in and given options for how to do so, but provided they stay safely with the group, that's OK. Transitions are more casual because campers are not split into activity groups; rather, we gather back up as a full group and announce where everyone is going next. This can take a little bit of time and a little more patience than when campers know that for each day in a two week session, they go to swim lessons after breakfast. 
In addition, while we still expect campers (and staff!) to use the Starfish Tools and Keys, and we still have a 1:1 ratio, we do not work directly on individual goals during the Weekenders program in the way we focus on them during summer camp. Weekenders is a time for relaxation and a true "respite" - a break and a full focus on fun, within safe limits and while respecting others' right to also have fun. 
If you aren't sure whether the Weekenders style of Starfish programming is going to be right for your camper, we encourage you to talk with a member of our year-round team. Generally, the following criteria help us determine whether a camper is ready for the Weekenders experience:
200pixpic0631) They want to be there. Weekenders is not the place to push being away from home as an "experience" in the way camp can be designed to be. It is not a testing ground for independence. Kids enjoy Weekenders most when they are engaged and having a good time with staff and friends. 
100 08982) They are able to go out in the community safely and without behaving outside appropriately defined boundaries. Weekenders participants go on field trips which include car, van or bus rides, brown-bag lunches (that they make themselves with counselor help), time at a public playground where non-Starfish youth and families are playing, and activities at public places like aquariums, parks, bowling alleys, museums, farms, etc. Participants need to be able to stay with assigned staff, be flexible if plans change a little (with coaching and support from staff), and be able to follow directions. Often times, our Weekenders campers do well on community trips with camp staff that they have not been successful participating in with family members because we do maintain much of our Starfish structure while on the trip. However, it is concerning for everyone if a camper becomes disregulated and overwhelmed while out in the community - so please let us know if you believe this will be a concern. Due to our staffing structure and strict ratios, we are not able to leave campers behind at camp during field trips.
aaphoto23) They have minimal aggressive or high-attention behaviors/incidents. While at camp during the summer program we are prepared and equipped to deal with more consistently aggressive or high-attention behaviors, our Weekenders program is not appropriate for campers who are actively acting out on a routine basis. We do have certified intervention staff on our Weekenders crew; in addition, all of our Weekenders staff are part of our extensively trained summer teams, and at least one year-round director is always present. However, while we certainly expect behavior and are more than happy to encourage participation for campers with infrequently occurring higher needs, at Weekenders we are simply not set up for the constant greater-than-1:1 staffing that persistent heightened behaviors require. 
100 01914) They're ready for a great (unplugged) time! Weekenders is different than camp but it's still super fun! Staff make sure that there is lots to do, and we're basically unplugged just like at summer camp. During Weekenders events, especially those which begin at the end of a long week of school, we watch one movie, usually after dinner. Otherwise, there's no hanging out in front of the TV or immersing oneself in video games - it's all live, person-to-person interactions, just like at summer camp. It's not the way most respite programs work - but we like to be different. 
As with everything at Starfish, the Weekenders experience is going to feel different for each individual camper. Please don't hesitate to reach out to one of us at the year-round office if you would like help deciding if Weekenders is a good match for your camper!  

Enrollment & Registration

100 1020The Weekenders program is small and spaces do fill up quickly. Enrollment is limited based upon staffing ratios, available beds, successful completion of summer Starfish programming, ability to participate within behavioral guidelines for Weekenders programs, and other factors. 
To complete a request for participation in Weekenders, click here. This request form requires the signature of a parent/guardian. A member of our year-round staff will respond to the request within 4 business days* to confirm enrollment status (*starting from 8/28/17).

Other Logistics

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A complete Weekenders Guide will be emailed to you prior to the Weekend, including a packing list, weekend schedule, transportation details/confirmation, and more. Medication packets will be mailed to you directly at least one week prior to the drop-off. If you have any questions, please call our office or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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