Kids get wild at Suttle Lake during new camp

 

Last updated 3/12/2024 at 10:14am

Photo by Jerry Baldock

Starshine camps plunge kids into nature-and sometimes into inventive performances. Their new camp fills the gap on a Sisters School District no-school day.

It's a Friday. Or a Monday. The school district declares a day off. Parents with jobs, caregiving duties, or medical appointments scramble to find a healthy, fun way for their kids to spend the day. Now there's a new option: Starshine's first No School Day Camp, taking place on the grounds of The Suttle Lodge.

The camp will provide a mix of nature immersion and imaginative activities for kids ages 5–11 on Monday, April 22. Guided by an experienced outdoor educator, kids will "play, imagine, explore, and get silly together," according to Starshine.

Local parent Amanda Van Buren told The Nugget she's excited for her daughter to participate. Olive is a first grader at Sisters Elementary. Her mom remembered taking Olive to her first Starshine camp-a week-long, summer day camp a couple years ago.

"We got to Suttle Lake," Van Buren explained. "Immediately the surroundings were beautiful, a magical environment to spend the entire day outdoors." Her daughter was usually shy around new people; at this camp, Olive made new friends, explored nature, and performed onstage with confidence.

Van Buren appreciated that Starshine's approach "allowed the kids to be creative and imaginative, to express themselves, building fairy houses and pretending to be animals." She particularly admired teacher and Starshine founder Jennie Sharp, who is also known for creating elaborate performances with students at Black Butte School in Camp Sherman.

At Starshine, "Jennie gives them the space and environment to explore their full selves," explained Van Buren.

No School Day Camp will offer students the chance to build forts, go on scavenger hunts, and let their imaginations loose. They may find themselves transformed into "fantastic forest dwellers" such as animals, fairies, wood nymphs, gnomes, and insects.

The camp is not weather-dependent; it will take place in sun, rain, or snow.

Van Buren said her family's activities on no-school days usually depend on her work schedule. Sometimes she isn't working and can have "a day of fun" with Olive. Other times, they trade with other parents, trying to set up play dates, "which can be stressful when you're juggling work obligations."

On April 22, "Olive will have the full day to get creative and imaginative with other kids, put on costumes, act like other creatures and animals. It's a great way to spend a day out of school! Much more fun than spending a day with mom when mom's working and half her attention isn't with Olive," she said.

Carpooling with other parents is how Van Buren expects to arrange rides to and from the lake.

Starshine's mission is to bring the magic of nature alive through outdoor adventures for kids and adults, and to "empower kids to shine their inner selves." What began as a theater-focused camp has evolved and expanded, supported by Sharp's extensive outdoor education experience.

She studied art history and forestry at the University of California, Berkeley, then earned her teaching license through the University of San Diego.

Sharp received her Masters of Science in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University in 2012.

Sharp has taught outdoor field science, performance, and core subjects to young students; she has guided adults in places like Yosemite National Park. She is supported by several guides who bring a wealth of experience and education to Starshine, from animal rescue and rehabilitation to fly fishing, nature writing, and natural science education.

Starshine partners with Central Oregon resorts to offer outdoor adventures for kids and adults in season, such as group stargazing and guided hikes. Starshine also provides childcare and activities during resort weddings, and for birthday parties at The Suttle Lodge.

Starshine's core camps delve deep into nature and imagination. A new program for summer 2024 encourages kids to become "masters of their habitat," training to become Wild Warriors. "With inspiration from animal adaptations, they will tap into positive Wild Warrior character traits, like courage, teamwork, mindfulness, stealth, and strength," according to Starshine materials.

No School Day Camp is Starshine's newest offering. Registration is now open; the camp costs $60 and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Learn more at http://www.starshine-theater.com/noschoolcamp.

 

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