Packing For Camp


With the week of Camp just a few days away, we’re getting excited as we check off all of the

items on our To-Do list. Campers and counselors are putting together lists of their own, thinking 

about what they’re going to want to bring to camp. Here are a few things to keep in mind as 

you’re trying to squeeze that suitcase shut:

  • A sleeping bag, or blankets and sheets – While the cabins are clean and the bunks 

are comfy, we all need something to tuck ourselves into at night. We provide each 

first-time camper with a new sleeping bag that they can keep; everyone else should 

bring one from home. Perfect for sleeping outside under the stars! 

  • Swim suit and towel – Everybody loves the pool! So it’s a good thing that we have 

pool-time on the schedule every day of camp. Be sure to pack your favorite beach 

towel to dry off and stay warm on the walk back to the cabin.

  • Memento from home – Sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder from home 

while at camp. A small stuffed animal or a favorite blanket can make drifting off to 

sleep a little more comforting.

  • Enough socks and underwear for a full week – Heck, let’s throw in an extra pair of 

both, just in case. 

  • Toothbrush – Keep those choppers in tip-top shape while away from home.

What happens if you get to Camp and you forgot something? We always make sure that 

campers have what they need. Kiddos can “shop” for free at Kit’s Kaboodle, our “store” of new 

or gently used clothes, shoes, toiletries, books, and lots of other good stuff. Happy packing!


A lot of parents have questions about sending their children to camp. Our FAQ article from the most recent edition of our newsletter aims to answer these questions and address the most common concerns.


1. What qualifications are required to be a Camp Starlight counselor?

Camp Starlight counselors must be at least 19 years old, have experience working with children and interested in working with children from diverse backgrounds. Counselors must demonstrate motivation to learn about the challenges children who are affected by HIV face and a willingness to live in community, working cooperatively with all staff and volunteers to make a magical camp week. All volunteers must be emotionally healthy and physically capable of engaging in camp activities. We complete background checks on all volunteers and call references to ensure that we are hiring safe, skilled, knowledgeable and inspired volunteers.

2. What are the overall health and safety measures Camp Starlight has in place?

Camp Starlight has a complete medical team, including a pediatrician and two nurses. We often also have medical students, residents and fellows who receive training in Club Med (Camp Starlight’s infirmary). All medical providers are specifically trained in both HIV and in pediatrics. Camp Starlight has a comprehensive behavioral health team called the Twinkle Team that includes mental health professionals, case managers and behavioral specialists. We also often have students, interns and residents who receive training from this team while at Camp Starlight. As a foundation to safety and a matter of course, we have risk management policies and procedures, provide training to all staff and volunteers on risk management and work cooperatively with the camp facility to align all safety measures. At Camp Starlight, we have a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio so that we can ensure both the safety of your child while at Camp and their enjoyment.

3. Is there a way to contact my child when they are at camp?

Parents and guardians are always welcome to call us here at Camp Starlight in order to reach their child(ren). Our Twinkle Team Director and Twinkle Team Case Manager will coordinate calls with your child, while at Camp. We encourage families to support their camper(s) in focusing on their time at Camp with their Camp friends, and we work to minimize phone time so as to minimize home missing and promote the Camp experience. Every child is different and every family is different in terms of their communication needs. We work with each family to ensure a happy and healthy stay at Camp. 

4. How does your staff handle homesickness?

All staff and volunteers are trained in working with campers who are missing home. Techniques such as reserving time in the day to talk about things a camper is missing often helps camper focus on Camp the rest of the day. Campers are often encouraged to make arts and crafts projects for people they are missing. With a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, every child can receive the individual adult attention they need. At the same time, they are surrounded by other children with whom they may share experiences. Campers are encouraged to support one another through any home missing episodes. Campers may be given permission to talk with a parent or guardian by phone if the child, counselors and Twinkle Team feel this would be helpful. 

5. Will they get their medicine on time?

Club Med is the name of our Camp infirmary. Club Med is staffed by a doctor and 2 nurses, and has a clear procedure for dispensing medications to all campers on time. Some campers have special needs around taking medication, which are informed by the family and implemented by the Club Med team. Personalized care for each child is the model we apply, where every camper gets the care and support they need to ensure medication compliance and adherence while at Camp Starlight.

6. Can parents attend Camp Starlight? 

Parents are not permitted to attend Camp Starlight. Providing children with a space that is theirs and all about them is the goal of Camp, as well as providing respite to parents and guardians. We encourage families to take a break and enjoy the time that we are not only caring for their children, but teaching them, inspiring them and celebrating them. 

Aubrey's Story

We are so lucky to have Aubrey, a long-time camper and now Counselor In Training, write an article for our most recent newsletter. Thank you Aubrey for sharing your story!


I was seven when I learned what HIV was. At that age I didn't know much, but I knew that the society around me didn't accept HIV, so I understood that it was not something to speak of.

My own mother shunned my dad for something he simply couldn't control. He didn't know. He wasn't told. My mother told me that he was bad, gross, and a disappointment. I never listened to a word of the web of lies she told me.

I never spoke of it to others but when 6th grade came around and health class was required, we talked about HIV and other STD's. Every time someone made a comment regarding HIV/AIDS in a bad or joking manner I was upset, offended even.

I never knew how to express my feelings about this sensitive subject until I went to Camp Starlight for the first time. It was there that my brother and I found refuge in the loving arms of everyone there. We learned ways to cope. Ways to understand. For a week we had a safe haven full of people who understood just what we were going through.

Nelson and I have been to Camp Starlight for 5 years now. Each year we have the same magical experience. We've made lifelong friends, and memories that will last an eternity. Camp Starlight can't take away the ugliness of the world but they brighten my world and for one week every year, I get to live in a world of beauty. A world of warm hugs, fun songs, caring friends with shoulders to cry on, and a family to lean on. A family where every single person knows what it’s like to experience the ugly of the world, but we all come together for a week to make our worlds beautiful again.

Camp Starlight changed my life for the better. Without my camp family, I don’t know where I would be.

Thank you Camp Starlight for letting me live in a world free of worry for a week every year.

- Aubrey