Programs

Camp Starfish programs are designed to provide the most personalized camp experience for every age group and behavioral need.

The Impact of Our 1:1 Commitment

Starfish is a different kind of summer camp.

At Starfish, we focus on the needs of each camper and meet them where they are, then help them get where they need to be.

We teach children how to interact appropriately in a social group, play cooperatively on a team, and resolve conflicts verbally and peacefully.

Camp Starfish is a place where each child is celebrated for being the person they are, while at the same time, given space and support to grow their skills and self-esteem.

Choose Your Starfish Adventure

Camp Starfish offers structured, supportive, safe, fun, and individualized summer and year-round programs for participants ages 6-22 experiencing social, emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges.

Starfish has 11+ customized programs to ensure that camp continues to be supportive, challenging and rewarding for all ages, interests, and levels of support.

Here to Answer Common Questions

Camp Starfish’s core programs provide a 1 “to” 1 (also known as 1:1) direct care staff-to-camper ratio. This means that at the meal table, there are four campers and four staff members. If there are five campers living in a bunk, five staff also live in the bunk. If six campers are playing a game of soccer, six staff are playing soccer with them!

One “on” one is different. Starfish is not 1 on 1. One-on-one means that a specific child is assigned a specific adult for the duration of their experience. Examples of 1 on 1 in a school setting include a para-professional or individual aide assigned to one particular child for the entire day. This is not the model utilized at Starfish.

The staff at camp work as a team to take care of everyone. Campers often grow to prefer one counselor over another for any number of reasons, as is the case regardless of the ratio at any camp. But, unlike if they were paired 1-on-1, a camper is never “stuck” spending a majority of their experience with one adult. Starfish’s 1-to-1 instead allows camper and staff relationships to form more organically and allows campers to practice their social skills with many different individuals.

Please note that although Starfish is 1:1, campers are never alone with just one staff member.

In general, we have found that one session of camp can be of great benefit to campers, while spending the entire summer at camp can have the unintended effect of negating some of the wonderful work that campers do in the early weeks of their attendance; this is naturally due to the highly-structured nature of our 24/7 group-living environment that can become tiring and repetitive after multiple weeks of camp attendance. We consider each request for multiple session attendance on an individual basis, considering a camper’s needs, any history of previous attendance at camps (including Starfish), the needs and requests of the family/parent/guardian/agency, and balancing those needs with that of the camp community. We reserve the right not to enroll campers for more sessions than, in our professional opinion and after considering all of the above factors, we feel is appropriate.

For campers who do attend multiple sessions, we require the signing (by parents/guardians) of a Multi-Session Agreement. This helps ensure that we are all on the same page about expectations and responsibilities for multi-session attendance.

Camp Starfish welcomes campers from all across the United States and even other countries! We do require that a parent/guardian or adult responsible for your camper be accessible within a 3-4 hour distance of Starfish during the camp session. Some parents designate a friend or relative in the area as the emergency contact, while others choose to vacation nearby while their camper attends Starfish. We can help you with arrangements should you choose to stay nearby and enjoy the Monadnock region of New Hampshire during the time your camper attends Starfish.

The fee structure for our camp is determined by the costs associated with providing a high-quality programming experience. We pride ourselves on maintaining a one-to-one ratio and employing highly trained and experienced staff. For example, our supervisory staff arrive at camp four weeks prior to the arrival of campers for extensive training. These factors, along with our all-inclusive approach that covers supervision, supplies, meals, transportation, and special events, contribute to our tuition being higher than that of some other camps. There are no hidden costs outside of the tuition cost.

Camp Starfish not only provides a fun and enjoyable experience for children but also offers a therapeutic environment with a focus on social and coping skills programming. To offer this level of service to children who have not been successful in other settings, our costs may be slightly higher than those of an average “summer camp” experience.

We encourage you to compare the costs of our camp against other similar programs. However, it is important to note that there are only a limited number of programs nationally that offer a 1:1 ratio and the level of support for our particular camper population. Upon comparison, you may find that our fees are highly competitive to similar services and programs.

Ultimately, the decision to enroll your child in our program should be based on the value of a proven program, high success rates, and a supportive community. As a non-profit organization, the tuition we collect is solely used to ensure that we can continue to provide outstanding services to campers and their families.

Starfish fundraises tirelessly in order to be able to provide financial aid to reduce the cost of camp when the full tuition is out of reach. It is our goal to work compassionately and openly with each family to determine ability to pay and to provide assistance with securing camp funding. Financial Aid is determined based on family size, income, and other pertinent factors. Special considerations will be taken into account to the best of our ability. Supporting documentation is required in order for a request of Financial Aid to be processed.

You can find the Financial Aid application on the application page and on your CampMinder account. Also, please note that Financial Aid from Starfish can be combined with other sources of funding (such as agencies, grants, etc.) and in those situations, Starfish Aid is the last step of the process.

It is our expectation that families who are able to pay the full tuition amount, without financial aid, will do so. Please do not apply for financial aid unless the full cost of camp is a true hardship.

You may not receive a financial aid determination prior to learning your camper has been accepted to camp, but you will know about Starfish financial aid before you confirm registration. We accept campers into Starfish based on their need for the special programming we offer, not based on financial merits. For that reason, our enrollment department will first accept your camper into the program, then discuss aid packages and financial arrangements. In this way, we provide financially needs-blind admissions. Once you have all the information available to you, including a financial aid package to consider, you will be asked to confirm your child’s registration.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”