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Smithsonian Stars

Smithsonian Summer Camp is all about having fun, learning, and being safe. After reflecting on camper experiences in previous summers, we have noticed ways in which we can grow and improve to best serve our campers, especially for those that are at camp for more than one week.

Smithsonian Stars


We use a positive reinforcement program called Smithsonian Stars in our Kindergarten through third grade camps as well as for all campers in Before-Camp and After-Camp.

The goal of this program is to ensure your child will be able to have a safe and fun time without having to learn new expectations each new week. In turn, we hope the campers will thrive rather than get frustrated, be role models, help new campers with the program, and have a better experience overall.

Smithsonian Stars Chart

Each camp will be given a chart to use to mark the positive progression of the camp and campers. As the camp/camper makes good choices and/or displays positive and safe behavior, the camp icon will move up the chart and the instructor will write on the chart what they did to receive the reward. At the end of the week you will get to see all the progress your campers have made.

The system will be reviewed with the campers on the first day of each camp. By bringing this to the attention of the campers on the first day, we hope they will work as a community to succeed through the week(s). We also ask that you review the Positive Behavior examples with your child(ren) so they know our expectations and can be a role model for their camp community.

The chart is meant to reflect positive behavior. At no point will the marker on the chart be lowered.


Each time a star is reached on the chart a reward will be given to the class, culminating in a larger prize when they reach the top. The smaller rewards may include such things as book marks or extra time outside at lunch. The larger rewards may be selected by the campers themselves and could include things such as "pajama day", "revisit your favorite exhibit", or "20 minutes of open art time". If the reward requires any action on your behalf, such as getting your child into pajamas for the next day of camp, you will be notified through an email and at Pick-up.

Positive Behavior

Examples of positive behaviors that should be shared with your child(ren) include, but is not limited to:

  • Follow Museum Manners
  • Employ whole-body listening (partially or entirely)
  • Above and Beyond behavior—The instructor may issue a star when the campers demonstrate teamwork and sharing, exhibit excellent museum behavior as an entire camp while in a museum, being an above and beyond buddy on a field trip, providing a helping hand to someone else in camp, traveling safely and calmly to and from field trips. This includes all campers walking and staying with their buddies the entire time.

Ensuring Camper Engagement and Safety

While we are hoping that the positive reward system will create wonderful learning environment, we know sometimes we just have a bad day. That’s why we’ve created a system to respond to negative behavior in a way that is constructive and encouraging to the children.

Peace Square

There may be instances throughout a camper’s time at camp when they need to be redirected or given an opportunity to improve upon their behavior. To facilitate this, each camp room will have a Peace Square. The Peace Square is denoted merely by a peace sign on the wall or floor. The camper can self-select to spend one minute in the Peace Square or may be asked to take a quick brain break in the Peace Square by an instructor. The camper sits quietly in the Peace Square for one minute, not participating in camp activities.

Steps to Respond to Misbehavior

If a child is continually misbehaving, such as by continually disrupting camp, touching other campers, or being unsafe, we will employ the following actions. Depending on the severity of the misbehavior, steps may be skipped.

  1. Verbal warning
  2. Peace Square Break
  3. One on one with an instructor
  4. Trip to camp staff’s office for some quiet time away from the camp
  5. Trip to camp director’s office and parents will be notified

We are looking for a fun summer of camp this year, and hope that this new program will help in making everyone’s time a positive one.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at