Starfishers Say…

We’re proud to receive feedback from multiple sources (including outcomes research conducted over multiple summers) which shows that we’re making a difference – and that campers are going home having made real strides!
Smiling teens at Camp Starfish
Campers writing with chalkat Camp Starfish

A Comprehensive Approach

In general, campers who attend Starfish:

  • Increase their ability to use coping techniques in stressful situations
  • Gain appreciation for the importance of others’ feelings
  • Learn social skills that enable them to build more successful friendships
  • Return home more prepared for the school year ahead
  • Make marked improvement in their swimming skills
  • Learn to “take space” before resorting to physical behaviors
    increase their self-esteem and their self-confidence

Our Impact

“He feels proud about the accolades he received at camp. He wanted to share his prizes and his swim test outcomes. Having tangible reminders of his accomplishments and successes gave him something to anchor himself and remind himself of the wins.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“My child loved camp and has met up with some of the campers since Camp Starfish! For the first time in many years, I felt happy that my child had a normal, fulfilling camp experience with positive memories.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“He came home saying, ‘You know when something or someone is bothering me, I can just walk away and ignore it.’ That felt like an accomplishment.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“We were so impressed with everything Starfish had to offer, from the application process to picking up our child. Everything was smooth, seamless, and had the child’s best interest and growth in mind. I’m so grateful Starfish exists and that we were able to access it in order to give our child this experience.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“Starfish is so wonderful. Every child deserves to have an experience like this. And every parent deserves to have a resource they can entrust their special needs child to.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“We are always 1000% happy with the care provided by Camp Starfish staff.”

2022 First-Time Parent

“When I drove to pick up my daughter after her first time at Camp Starfish, she was sobbing as her counselor was walking her up towards the car. She was crying because she was going to miss the counselors and the friends she made. One of the first things she asked after she got in the car was, ‘Can I go back next year?’”

2022 First-Time Parent

“The skills and the confidence that you have taught him in just two weeks every summer has been life changing. Camp is the ONE place he feels 100% safe. Not just physically safe, but safe with his emotions and thoughts. He KNOWS everything about him will not only be accepted, but appreciated. That is a feeling VERY few humans get to have”

Parent of 7-Year Returning Camper

“When he started there so many years ago it was primarily to give his family respite from him. It quickly became his safe space where he was able to take respite from a scary world that didn’t fully understand him. Where he was not just welcomed and understood, but appreciated. That was a completely new feeling for him. All of the tools you have given him have helped shape the incredible person he is now, and I can’t thank you enough, from the bottom of my heart.”

Parent of 7-Year Returning Camper

Photo of Danielle Lubbers

Danielle Lubbers

Danielle joined Camp Starfish in the spring of 2023 as Camp Director. Originally working with the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, Danielle has ten years of experience providing programming to children, outdoor skills training for adults, and directing overnight summer camp experiences.

In her spare time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her two-year old Dalmatian, Mia. Danielle’s favorite activity at camp is raft building, as she enjoys seeing campers and staff work together to complete a team goal. Her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is “We are here to learn, grow, and have fun!”

Staff photo of David

David Mahnken

David Mahnken is Camp Starfish’s Mental Health Consultant. He provides staff training each summer on topics such as self-care, trauma-informed care practices, and health & wellness. David also provides support and consultation to the organization throughout the year. David holds a BA from St. Olaf College and an MSW from Simmons University. David is a LICSW who works in emergency services in addition to his own private practice in Massachusetts.

Prior to becoming a social worker, David’s first experience at camp was as a counselor in the early 2000s before becoming an administrator and member of the year-round team. His favorite camp activity is swim-I (swim instruction), and his favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We make camp a safe place.”

Staff photo of Joe

Joe Clark

As the Assistant Director at Camp Starfish, Joe is a seasoned professional who is well-versed in all aspects of camp life. With five years of summer work at Starfish, he brings extensive experience and expertise to the camp year-round. Joe is from the UK, and holds a degree from Keele University. Joe works as a support worker in the UK, providing care to individuals with disabilities, since 2019. Joe also engages in volunteer work, including spending three months in Abrobiano, Ghana.

Joe is known at camp for his charming English accent, which campers often try to replicate! His favorite camp activity is playing soccer (football) on the field, and his favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “I take responsibility for my actions.”

Staff photo of Rachel

Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts is the Director of Staff Experience at Camp Starfish, responsible for all things staffing and groups. With a degree in Anthropology, and a Certificate in Global Citizenship from Franklin Pierce University, Rachel brings a unique perspective to her role. She oversees hiring, onboarding, retention, and staff appreciation for the 100+ seasonal staff at Camp Starfish each summer. Rachel has been a part of the Starfish team since 2016, working in various seasonal roles. She joined the Year-Round Team full-time in 2022.

As a lifelong New Hampshire resident, Rachel enjoys hiking in the woods with her dog, Clover. Her favorite camp activity is Free Play, and her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We respect each other’s differences.”

Staff photo of Kristie

Kristie Martin

Kristie Martin is Camp Starfish’s Program Director, responsible for ensuring that each camper receives a structured, supportive, and fun program during both summer and year-round weekends. With her degree in Applied Psychology & Human Development from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, Kristie has a deep understanding of child development and uses this knowledge to create a nurturing environment for all campers.

Kristie grew up in the Monadnock region and takes pride in being a local. Kristie’s favorite camp activity is the Camper Talent Show, which she believes is the perfect opportunity for campers to showcase their skills and feel comfortable sharing with the community. Her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is, “I try my best, I do not have to be the best.”

Staff photo of Sarah

Sarah York

Sarah York is the Director of Operations at Camp Starfish, joining the team in the Spring of 2022. She brings with her a wealth of professional experience working in both mental health and human resources. Sarah’s role at Camp Starfish is crucial in ensuring that camp runs smoothly, and she is available to assist families every step of the way through the registration process. If you call the Starfish office, Sarah will likely be who you speak with first!

With her dedication to helping others and her commitment to creating a positive camp experience for every child, it’s no wonder that her favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “We are members of a team.”

Staff photo of Jamie

Jamie Mahnken

Jamie Mahnken is Camp Starfish’s Executive Director, and has been an integral part of the Camp Starfish community since 2010, serving in a variety of roles. With a degree in Business Administration and Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University, Jamie is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for every camper, staff member, and volunteer.

As a North Carolina native, Jamie enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. Her favorite camp activity is kayaking to Blueberry Island, which is a meaningful and memorable experience for many campers, as well. Jamie’s favorite Camp Starfish Tool is: “I am flexible and open to change.”