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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

Former staff

Rating: 5

Words cannot explain the love, hope and joy of the camp starfish experience.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son went to the 19 day session as well and the respite week last summer 2015. He has never been able to attend even a day camp but Camp Starfish has the tools, staff and support to not only handle my son and his struggles but make it a FUN and a VERY POSITIVE experience! The staff are A++++. Can't say enough good about the program. He has since attended two respite weekends and comes home happy and with great stories each time. This would not be possible at any other place. He's having his best school year yet (7th grade) and when I asked him what made such a difference he said 'honestly mom, it was camp'. Need I say more?

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

I came over from the U.K to work at Camp Starfish for two summers (2010 and 2011). I feel so privileged that I have received the opportunity to spend two summers working with such an inspiring group of young people. I arrived at camp short on confidence and not really knowing what I wanted from life. However, by the end of my second summer I knew I wanted a career just like what I had at camp. Somewhere I could have fun every day, working with such amazing young people . Coming home from Camp Starfish, I applied to work at a community based residential setting for young people with autism. Within a year, due to the skills and knowledge gained at camp, I was promoted to a managerial role. I am currently training to become a Learning Disability Nurse, using the Starfish ethos and values every day ensuring the highest standard of care. Before attending camp, I would never of envisaged a role like my current one. While at camp, a lot of the staff told me that they were in this line of work because they "wanted to make a difference in people lives". I would just like to say thank you to Camp Starfish and the inspiring campers I worked with for making such a difference in my life.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish was the best choice I have ever made for my son and I. For me it was everyone was so helpful. This was my first year and they answered everything I asked and more. They gave me notices on how he was doing and they were so kind even though I bothered them constantly. Damian my son age 16 at the time absolutely LOVED the camp and the staff. He was worried about being unplugged but he wanted to stay longer and now wants to be one of the staff as he gets older. Damian says it was the best thing he has done yet and want's to go back every year he can :-)

Donor

Rating: 5

I met the gals from Starfish at a conference many years ago when it was a concept evolving into a reality. Never have I seen more passion and positive by the management to create a healthy and fun environment for all. We are proud to have worked with Starfish to make it a reality and are honored that they have used our products as a regular activity in their camps.
Mary Anne Penton
My mini Golf (Starting Time)

1 Mikey C.

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is such an incredible place! I have worked there for two years with the amazing staff and all of the amazing children that participate in their various programs. I cannot wait until May rolls around to begin my third summer working for Camp Starfish!!

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is a wonderful summer camp that is a life-changing experience for both campers and staff alike. It changed my perspectives and life goals, and I now gladly continue to work with similar students in schools. I have seen the difference that Camp Starfish makes for students both at camp, and as a school professional who sends them there at the end of the school year. Students learn as they have fun at Camp Starfish, and their every need is met through working 1:1 with staff who are trained and supported unlike any other setting I have experienced. The staff truly prioritize the campers needs and wants above all else, and provide structure, safety, and fun to every aspect of the day. I have seen students come back to the school year with endless tales of swimming, songs, new friendships, and favorite staff members who were positive role models. They are always excited to go back for another year!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This camp was amazing for my 7 yr old son with ADHD! He is looking forward to going back next summer!

1 Linda388

Donor

Rating: 5

I am the grandparent of a two year Starfish day kid. At Starfish she has learned to take responsibility for her behaviors. To "fix" her mistakes,to go with the flow and to begin to realize that sometimes you do have to do what someone else wants to do. She has been successful even doing overnights She has seen her self in a whole new successful light. I will always be grateful to Starfish.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I bring my son from half way across the country to attend this terrific camp. I called all over the country looking for a camp that would be able to handle him, and many of the camps I spoke to mentioned Camp Starfish as a possibility as they politely declined. The environment, the systems, and the people have made this among the best decisions I have made for him.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has benefited greatly from two summers at overnight camp with Camp Starfish. His behavior gets better and we have a common language we can use to talk about his challenges. Great place!

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is one of the most happiest places in the world to be and to work, it changes the lives of amazing kids in such an awesome way but it also changes the lives of the staff.

2 John359

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our granddaughter has gone there for several years. We see big changes each year. Great program. Caring staff.

We think it is an amazing place and they get results. Excellent communications with families too.

1 Janet121

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our Camp Starfish family provided us with expert support and much-needed respite when we had nowhere else to turn. I honestly don't know what we would have done without them when our son's dangerous and disruptive behaviors left us feeling exhausted and hopeless. Emily, Michelle, and Adam -- and the wonderful staff they recruited -- were there for us, year after year. Every time our son came home from a Starfish weekend or summer, he had a little more insight, resilience, and self-confidence. We can't thank them enough!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Summer 2014 at another camp - our son was waiting for us at the top of the driveway, ready to go. Time to go! Let's GO! Wasn't sure he was ever going to camp again.

Summer 2015 at Camp Starfish - our son introduced us to staff and friends (that's right - INTRODUCED US!); he had mementos of his achievements to share and explain; he talked a mile-a-minute about his adventures; he walked us around the whole camp showing us where his adventures took place (and, as we walked, we passed staff members who all greeted our son by name and whom our son greeted back BY NAME!).

Can't wait to get back to camp!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son went to Camp Starfish for two weeks this past summer. He was reluctant at first since he would be away from family and friends for this time, but at the end of the summer, it was clear that this was a great place for him and that he thrived here. He was able to be at Camp Starfish with great support and also enjoyed himself.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp starfish is a wonderful place for our son with Aspergers. When he leaves after his few weeks of daycamp he has tears in his eyes, saying this is one of the few places he feels like a part of something.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

I've spent just one summer at Camp Starfish and already it has changed my life in unbelievable ways. I went into last summer hoping to do something meaningful with my time and meet some incredible kids but I can honestly say that the kids impacted me just as much as I did them. The staff and administrators at Camp Starfish work tireless to ensure that every child receives one-to-one attention at all times and to create an environment that is both safe and loving. It's amazing to think that just a few weeks can make such an impact on the life of a child (and a staff member) but I have experienced this first-hand and I already cannot wait to return to camp.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish is a life-changing place, that simultaneously maintains a fun-camp atmosphere. Every camper that goes there receives personalized attention, due to the 1:1 ratio, which is one of the keys to campers' successes. The staff are extremely knowledgable, including an extensive training, and dedicated. Staff constantly work together to surround all the campers with staff that know each individual's needs, so that every part of camp is both fun for the camper and helpful for them to meet their goals. Camp Starfish makes such a huge impact on its campers, that one guardian noted that their camper makes more social and behavioral progress in the two weeks every summer than they do all year long at their specialized school. Camp Starfish uses a fun camp setting to work with children towards achieving their goals of success, whether it be socially, behaviorally, or another capacity.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

With Camp Starfish, I was able to make a difference in some kids lives! I never thought it would be possible for a camp in wooded New Hampshire to change my life, but not a day goes by that I don't think about the amazing children and the incredible experience I gained there. It's truly an amazing place for these kids.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has attended for two years and each time has come home relaxed, talkative, regulated and more confident. Camp is a place where he grows and develops skills in a supportive and structured space. Expectations are clear, staff are consistent and working with the campers toward their goals for personal success. I am impressed by the level of specialized training and knowledge by staff , the many activities, the great food, and the commitment to safety of all, and a very high staff to camper ratio.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

For 2 summers Camp Starfish was a tremendous experience for our daughter. The staff is fantastic and knowing that our daughter was in such a fun, supportive, safe and therapeutic environment enabled the rest of the family to enjoy some respite.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter feels like she has found her second home in this supportive and fun environment. The best parts of her spirited self are celebrated and she can feel it!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son was able to practice remarkable personal control after sp Naing time with the caring and knowledgable staff at camp starfish

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

Starfish inspired me to get my masters in special education after a summer as a camp counselor and one as an administrator. I am beyond blessed to have been a part of the team!

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

The staff at Camp Starfish was obviously very well acquainted with the kind of behavioral challenges my 7 year-old daughter can exhibit (RAD, anxiety, ADHD diagnoses). The system for drop-off and pick-up for day camp was extremely smooth and designed perfectly for a situation where the child often refuses to leave the parent. The counselors worked hard to forge a connection with my daughter. It was especially impressive to see both their patience and leadership on display when my daughter refused to get out of the car for the one overnight she had. They succeeded in getting her out by her own choice so that she was able to experience a successful overnight.

1 Ellen74

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son did so well at this camp. We could tell right away that he had really grown up during his time there. Although this was his first time at a sleep-away camp, leaving him there was not as hard as bringing him home. He didn't want to leave!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son has been goon to this camp for 2 years now. He is on the spectrum, high functioning. He may forget a campers name but never the counselors. He can never say enough about the staff that works directly with him. He is so excited to see them every morning for the week, and the next year!! I feel safe and comfortable with him there. I feel all his needs are being met. Also David says you guys make the best Mac and cheese!! Thank you for all you do!!

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

I have worked at Camp Starfish for several summers and each one I have been a part of inspiring teams that work tirelessly to help its campers succeed. Every detail of the program is set up to meet children where they are while motivating them to reach their goals.

Starfish has added a number of exciting program areas and activities to cater to its older population and has also enhanced staff training to support its youngest campers. I cannot say enough about how Starfish empowers its staff and its campers. I will miss seeing the community wide dedication to a common mission of helping children succeed and enjoy a camp experience.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

Camp Starfish was a summer experience I never even imagined having in my wildest dreams. But boy am I glad that I went. This past summer I got the great pleasure of working at Camp Starfish as a waterfront counselor. I gave swim lessons, lifeguarded, and participated in the other every day camp rituals. This summer I found who I want to be, who I can be, and all the potential I can give to the kids I hope to one day serve. I wouldn't have gained this knowledge anywhere else, but Starfish. Not only is the camp amazing, but the kids that they hand pick to come experience the joy of camp are even better. This camp deserves it all. Yes it is great to be recognized for having an amazing camp, but Starfish takes these kids and gives them their all. They dedicate the whole experience to the kids, who were all my personal super heroes. Camp Starfish helps foster the growth for the kids to grow and learn in a safe environment, but what they don't know is they help foster the growth of each and every person that steps foot onto Camp Starfish. This summer gave me the confidence to throw all my love out there in whatever job I have, work hard, and love what you do. I love Camp Starfish. I will always love Camp Starfish.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My daughter was recently hired by Camp Starfish, and I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of training she received prior to the start of camp. The staff was incredibly supportive to her as well.

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

Starfish helped me to not only work with wonderful campers, who seemed to truly benefit from the attention and recognition that they were given and had deserved, but also helped me to grow as a person. I have never felt more comfortable or welcomed in a place, such a fantastic environment created by people who truly care.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have twins, one boy and one girl. While my son is special needs, my daughter is average. I had searched for years for a camp which would accommodate both of my children with little success.

Until I found Camp Starfish. It was wonderful! My children loved their 2 weeks at Camp Starfish!!! They were organized and transparent. They were staffed by professionals but more importantly than just professionals they were staffed with warm and caring individuals who are keenly trained in a number of areas.

My son matured so much over the short 2 week camp period it was truly amazing. He learned so many new skills and made wonderful friends.

My children were safe and they had a blast! I couldn't have asked for any more information than what i was given and the communication between the staff and the parents was excellent.

I had visited many camps prior to this camp and my children had attended 2 other camps - Camp Starfish was the best of what i had seen and the best the children had attended by far.

I did think the cost was a bit high compared to other special needs camps. But the program was extremely well run and very individually tailored to each camper.

My children have already begun to plan their next year camp adventure!

I can't say enough good things about this Camp! Camp Starfish is a STAR!!!!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son struggled for years with socializing and participating in just everyday activities, both fun and responsibilities. Camp Starfish was a godsend. He attended summer sessions for several years and always had a great, safe time!

1 Adrienne B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son has only been lucky enough to attend Camp Starfish once, but it made an impact to last a lifetime. It was the first time he felt like he belonged somewhere, and the first time our family felt like we were bringing him to people who really "got" him and wanted him to succeed and have a fun summer camp experience.
They do great work at this camp! We hope to be able to send him again.

1

Former staff

Rating: 5

I worked at Camp Starfish in the summers of 2007 and 2008, and it's still possibly the funnest job I've ever had. Personally, it was a huge influence on my career. I'm a mental health therapist now, but I got my start in psychology at Starfish and I think it really instilled the value of treating people as people and being positive-first. Additionally, I've stayed in close touch with some other former staff and I count them among the very best people I know.

I know the kids get a lot out of it as well, and the parents of returning campers always had good things to say about how it helped their kids throughout the year. I've personally used the "Starfish tools" in all kinds of settings since camp, from therapy groups to mindfulness & meditation classes in prisons. The way that starfish teaches people to interact with each other really wouldn't be a bad starting block for a society.