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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Camp Starfish Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Camp Fire, Camps, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Sports, Youth Development

Mission:

Camp Starfish fosters the success and growth of children with emotional, behavioral and learning problems by providing individualized attention as part of structured, nurturing and fun group programs.

Results: Campers show improvement in taking increased responsibility for their own actions, demonstrating more positive attitude, displaying greater eagerness to engage in new activities and demonstrating increased self-esteem and greater confidence in their own ability to succeed.

Target demographics: The largest numbers of children attending Camp Starfish come from the Greater Boston area. They lead troubled, difficult lives. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the numbers of youngsters diagnosed with debilitating psychological and learni

Programs:

The level of support and structure afforded by the consistent and focused attention given to every one of our children at any time accounts in large measure for the outstanding successes our campers have achieved during the past thirteen summers.  During this time, more than 2,000 youngsters have benefited from the compassionate and caring environment that is the hallmark of Camp Starfish. 

Summer Programs include: Day Camp, Pioneers & Navigators (resident camp), Older Camper Programs, Teen adventure camp (Beachcombers), leadership development programs (l.e.a.d.e.r.s. and STAR Corps), and young adult mentorship programs (DCA and Crew), as well as staff training and development. Weekenders Respite programs are available during the school year.

Community Stories

199 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

KD M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

we LOVE Camp Starfish. After 2 poor experiences at another overnight camp, I was concerned about sending my son to yet another overnight camp. I shouldn't have worried at all! My son had the greatest time and is looking forward to going back for the whole summer. He learned so much about himself without realizing it and his school experience is now exponentially better for having gone.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is a safe and fun environment for kids to learn and play. Our daughter starts talking about how excited she is to go back on pick up day!

We feel so lucky to have found an amazing place that lets her shine, and gives us respite knowing she doesn't even miss us!

Client Served

Rating: 4

My child attended Camp Starfish for the second time last summer and the experience is second to none. She suffers from an emotional illness that makes it very hard to enjoy a typical teenaged life. The counselors and staff are very professional and well trained. They know the kiddos inside and out before they even arrive! The one to one ratio is practically unheard of and allows every child to have a successful experience.

My daughter will soon age out of camp but hopes to attend one final year. She has grown from her experiences with Camp Starfish and comes home happy and confident. How I wish that feeling could last all year long !

The only thing that the camp needs to work on is streamlining the application process. The new online process was cumbersome and extremely difficult to navigate. The system was often down or unusable and it took months to complete an application. Otherwise , camp was a blessing and a positive experience for our child. We are grateful to the wonderful counselors who give their all to help each child grow and change for the better. :)

Steff N.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish continues to totally exceed my expectations as an employee. The mission behind this nonprofit shows the reason they exist--for the children. The directors, Emily and Doug go above and beyond for the children and families to give them an opportunity to succeed even with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Where other camps may kick these "bad children" out of camp, Camp Starfish provides a safe and fun environment for children to face their fears, step outside of their comfort zone, and be accepted for who they are not their diagnoses. I began my career with Camp Starfish and I could not be happier to continually support Camp Starfish (and of course volunteer my time when I can!).

Cara F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son has been attending Camp Starfish since he was 9 years old; he is almost 18 now! Camp Starfish has been many different things to us as a family. It is a true respite for us, a time to heal and refresh; we even had several good night’s of sleep when he was at camp! It has been the one and only place of consistency for our son. It is a place where he has friends, fun, growth, and a positive experience. Starfish has a 1:1 staff for each camper and the staff there understand the magnitude of our kid’s disabilities, where most other places do not. The Starfish staff do an incredible job summer after summer, and they do so with smiles and enthusiasm! We always saw a difference in our son each summer we picked him up. The shine in his eyes after camp and the progress he made each summer truly played a major role his success outside of camp. The memories of Starfish will last our son a lifetime. Starfish has been the one place where he can go each summer and do typical summer activities like boating, swimming, sports, arts, and camping just like typical kids, except Starfish provides him with the structure and supports he needs to succeed. Each summer our son was pushed to grow a little bit more than the summer before and he himself recently said, “Camp is where I feel the safest and have the most fun in my life. I never want to stop going there."

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is the best! My son has been going to Starfish for 7 years and his experiences there have helped to change our life in so many ways. I remember dropping him off the first summer thinking for sure I would get a call soon to come get him because of his challenging behaviors, but I never got the call. After 14 days of camp for him and respite for me, I picked up my son looking happier and brighter than I had ever seen him before. Just recently my son, now 16 years old, did a fundraiser for Starfish by selling his old toys at a yard sale. In his letter to the Administration letting them know what he raised, he wrote, "Camp has been the one place in my life I have always felt safe and had fun. I am learning to give back now, so I hope this helps!"

The administration has a strong knack for hiring and training the best staff to help assist campers with Autism and/or Mental Illness. We call Starfish our Miracle!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish was a life changing experience for my 9 year old son with ADHD and pragmatic semantic language disorder. After years of going to camps- and feeling like an outsider- he found a place where he was valued and accepted unconditionally. I'm not sure how they did it in his 2 weeks away- but since his return- his teachers have remarked about improvements in relationships with friends, confidence, impulse control and work- task completion. He has more confidence and functions more independently at home. He still has challenges of course- but Camp Starfish really seemed to help him. He can't wait to go back next year. Fantastic place- fantastic people. Would strongly recommend to any parent whose child his similar challenges.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter, who has gone to this camp two summers had a difficult time with being socially appropriate. This camp followed the positive reinforcements that I was using at home and that she was using in school to help her adapt in socially difficult situations.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter went to camp Star Fish for the first time this past summer.it was a very positive experience for her.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hands down the best summer of my life. I felt part of a family here not a staff team but a group of people that truly care about you and look out for you. I had one of the best experiences even though it was one of the hardest. I loved being with these kids they changed my life, taught me lessons that school could never teach me . I cannot express how great the work that camp starfish does , I saw children's behavior change in a matter of days and I saw children forget about the outside world and have fun and make friends. It's truly a heart warming place.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish was the best experience my child has ever had. She came back home from Camp Starfish more confident and positive. Unfortunately there were many other negative experiences prior to Camp Starfish. My only regret is that I did not find them sooner. The staff were great. They sent updates and pictures that allowed me to share her joy at camp. A year later my child still says things like "At Camp Starfish we try new things and we try and try and never give up". It was an amazing experience!

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

This was my son's first year attending. The staff are friendly, well trained and very accommodating.
He had a great time and I was comfortable in knowing that he would be well taken care of. We will be back in 2017!!!

Client Served

Rating: 4

My daughter loved her first summer at Camp Starfish. The staff was welcoming and she really looked forward to going every day. They were able to balance nurturing her needs and pushing her to reach her limits.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is a home away from home! The year-round staff (Emily, Doug, and Jamie) are outstanding with behavior management and training their staff to exceed expectations. Working here during the summer was an extremely positive experience, and seeing the ways in which this environment puts smiles on so many kids' faces is heartwarming. This camp more than deserves a top rating for non-profits, and should continue to be recognized for their place in campers' success stories and building of a community.

Haley15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked at camp starfish for my first year this past summer, (2016). The experience I had was one unlike any other! I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. All these wonderful kids I got to meet just needed a little bit of love and attention. Lots of these kids had emotions they couldn't explain and we were there to help them through that. Camp starfish was a place they could feel accepted and call home. Camp was the highlight of their summers for most. The schedule and curriculum is purposely structured to set them up for success! It is truly a place for them to learn, grow, and have fun. There were kids who had been coming back to camp for their 8th year! That says something right there. I would recommend camp starfish to anyone.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is amazing. The staff is so friendly and welcoming. My son (age 13) had a great experience there). We will definitely be coming back this summer.

Jen_72

Client Served

Rating: 5

To say that Camp Starfish is amazing is an understatement. Having a child like mine and being able to send her to do things and not worry used to be a dream. Once Camp Starfish came into our lives, that dream became a reality. I can send my daughter somewhere that she has SO MUCH FUN where she feels good about herself and what she can do and I get to rest easy because I know that staff has all the tools needed to help her overcome any challenge she may face. The staff, beautiful location and the confidence my daughter always comes home with is more than I could've ever hoped for in this life. To say I'm grateful could not be more understated. My family is blessed to have become part of the community at Camp Starfish.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It has been a few years since my daughter went to Camp Starfish but the experience she and I came away with still lasts. Growing up in a small town with few kids her age, she found it difficult to fit in socially ALWAYS. Though she was hesitant to go away to an overnight camp (her 1st) she agreed to go. 2 weeks for her was amazing. She was so happy to meet, get along and be socially accepted with a group of girls her age. The friendships she made showed her that she IS like everyone else and CAN be happy as herself amongst peers. For me, the safe structured environment along with the incredible, giving kind counselors was too good to be true. My daughters' happiness and ear to ear smile was all worth the initial anxiety. May other families benefit from from this camp for years to come.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Fish REALLY GETs it. For kids with ADHD/ADD or on the Autistic spectrum- this is place where they can really truly be themselves to actually, simply BE HAPPY. It is totally geared towards these children to shine - while within a safe engaging structure that is guaranteed to bring about individual success. My 13y/o ADDer 1st overnight socially engaging experience had put a smile on her face weeks after her time there. She now knows that she actually can be happy living with ADD and that she actually is a "normal" human being. I am forever indebted to this organization and will sing praises always because they simply brought about a path for my daughter's innate happiness to come through.

Hopper M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This place and the staff was a life-changer for our whole family, our daughter is going back for her 4th year next summer.

Dawn121

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our son has been attending summer camp at Starfish for 4 years now. Every year, he comes home with a greater sense of independence and a bigger set of tools. The Starfish Tools are great for everyday life - I know a lot of adults who could really benefit from them too!!

It's a real summer camp experience, with swimming, boating, crafts, games, songs, friends and lots of fun. It wouldn't have been possible for us in a different setting. Starfish is one of a kind!

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We became part of the Starfish family just over 3 years ago. We started with the 5-day 'lite' camp because our son was very apprehensive. He liked it, but was still nervous about going for 14 days the next year. He loved it! This year, he went for 19 days, and now he's planning how he can be a counselor (he's only 11, mind you) as soon as possible. We all love the experiences he's getting - being unplugged and really being present, swimming, canoeing, hiking, how to develop good social relationships, trying new foods, trying new activities. I could go on and on. The staff and directors are so great! The bottom line is that Starfish has been a life-changing experience for us and I would give them 10 stars if I could.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish exceeded my expectations and most importantly my son, Daniel's. Danny can not wait to come back as a return camper next year!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Camp Starfish has been really helpful to a number of families I know. The staff is kind and attentive and the Director really knows what's going on at camp. They are truly focused on the kids and the experiences they have while at camp.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our church (Unitarian Universalists of Wellesley) has for years had a strong relationship with Camp Starfish. As a member of the church, I have had the opportunity to visit the camp approximately ten times. Each time, I have been extremely impressed by how devoted and talented the staff is. They are truly dedicated to improving the lives of all the campers and have a strong one-to-one bond. Moreover, the current staff inherited a camp on a beautiful lakeside location but whose infrastructure had some major issues. Nevertheless, they have worked tirelessly to make major improvements while using the limited funds in an EXTREMELY effective way. If a donor is looking for an organization that will use her/his gift wisely and support an important cause, this is one group to consider seriously.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is possibly the greatest thing that has happened to our son. He has gone for 3 consecutive years. The staff is outstanding. They have diverse backgrounds, but their level of expertise and warmth is superior. The communication is great. Can't say enough.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Best camp ever! The counselors are wonderful. My son has attended the 5 and 14 day sessions and loved it. He was safe and happy.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Watching the good work that Camp Starfish does from afar allows me to appreciate this place even more. Children, young and old, truly grow. Staff, young and old, learn new skills that translate into the workforce. Parents of new campers get the opportunity relax for what is probably the first time in many, many years. Parents of returning campers relish their annual two weeks of respite. Regardless of how you're connected to Starfish, the one thing that is true for everyone is this: Camp Starfish makes life better. If you're reading this and wondering if Starfish is the place for your child, let me help you -- just visit this link: http://campstarfish.org/camps/appsforms.html

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family loves Camp Starfish! Both of our children have attended sessions for the past few summers, and they love it. They come home happy, full of stories and outdoor experiences that they would not typically have due to the city area we live in. The dedicated staff are so positive and really do have your children's best interest in mind. We have noticed that each time our children attend, they come home with more confidence, a bit more independence, and a smile on their faces! Camp starfish allows our children to feel safe and supported in a fun environment, while providing us the much needed break that we, as their their dedicated parents and caretakers, need. When they come home, we are more refreshed and this allows us to provide better care for their individual needs. We cannot say enough about the amount of "good" this camp provides primarily for the kids, but overall, for our family as a whole!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked for this camp for two summers (2013 and 2014). I have never had a job that I loved more than being a counselor for this camp. Camp Starfish truly embodies the ideas of unity and community. Their staff empower campers to feel personal strength, as well as to share their strength with others. It was and continues to be my favorite place in the world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked at Camp Starfish this summer (2016) and had the best summer of my life. The staff were so diverse and friendly, and the campers were just a delight to have. 10/10.
Good job everyone!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended camp starfish this summer. I had never been to an overnight camp, and it was fourteen days, and I thought, "would I get homesick?" But the minute me and my parents pulled in a counselor had a microphone and said "please welcome ------ from bunk one!" And everyone cheered for me. I never had the time to feel homesick because for fourteen days, I was focused in activities. Also, I am a picky eater, and I was worried about the food, but if there was something I didn't like, they had a cereal/salad bar and it was delicious! I met friends that I still keep in touch with. I am about to go to a weekend program next weekend and I am psyched! Camp Starfish is amazing, and of course, a shout out to all the staff!

Former staff

Rating: 5

Working at Camp Starfish was by far the best experience I have ever had. I think that everyone at camp, including both campers and staff, learn how to be their best self. I formed such great bonds with the campers and staff and this experience has left a lasting impact on me. Camp Starfish is accepting of everyone and encourages everyone to 'learn, grow, and have fun!' It leaves campers and counselors with memories that will last a lifetime. Some of these memories include gatherings, evening programs, peace games, boating, swimming in the lake, free play, and spending time with everyone in my bunk! I find myself even now, months later, singing camps songs, reciting the starfish keys and tools, and sharing memories with others about my experiences at camp. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH AND THE TOUGH GET GOING...FISH SWIM TOGETHER!

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish impacted my life tremendously! During my 4 summers as a counselor and administrator, I learned important life skills and created lifelong friendships. Being with such wonderful children and working with such a magnificent staff was the happiest, most challenging, and most fulfilling job I have ever had. Camp Starfish prepared me for my career in teaching, and I will forever be thankful for my time there. I will forever cherish and remember my time at Camp Starfish! Moosa, Moosa, Moosa!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I became aware of Camp Starfish more than a decade ago in the winter of 2005. I became involved with Starfish just two years ago as I have had the pleasure to work with the camp's executive director. The ED and I have partnered on projects related to a national industry association and serve together on the board of our state industry association.

I have tremendous respect for her as well as for the organization that she, her team, and the Starfish Board have built.

The program, camp structure, site development, and relationships with campers, their families, and their support teams are all first rate. I believe that Starfish is leading the way in the region in their approach to the overnight camp experience they deliver as well as the community around the camp they have developed.

I look forward to continuing to work with their staff both on a state and a direct level as well as recommend campers to their program who have needs beyond what we can offer in our overnight camp program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish has done so much for our daughter. This place has changed her life, giving her confidence and a community that's just hers.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am the Commodore of Lake Monomonac Lake Sailing Association ( MLSA). We have over 75 families in our non profit organization here on Lake Monomonac for over 50 years. Camp Starfish and it's staff have been active in the management and protection of Lake Monomonac through their participation on the board of the MLPOA. ( Monomonac Lake Properties Association.) They are great neighbors and an asset on the lake. ..........Chip Hastings

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is a place that celebrates all children for exactly who they are and fosters their growth through a 1:1 ratio and social, emotional, and behavioral supports. I could write a book about my experience at Camp Starfish, but here's just one story that truly captures the magic of this place:

Day 1 of Camp: A 15-year old male camper refuses to participate in gathering and sits out of all camp activities.
Day 13 of Camp: The same camper is the heart and soul of the Peace Games- he jumps around yelling and cheering, singing at the top of his lungs and asking for his cabin mates to join his excitement.

What a difference two weeks makes.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love Camp Starfish, they made a big difference in our lives!