Star Island Staff Clean Up Rye, NH Beach

March 27th, 2015

Star Island staff spend a lot of time focusing on Star Island, and the summer programs that come back year after year. But we also think it’s important to focus on the mainland. For example, on Wednesday, March 25, as part of our bi-annual retreat series, we volunteered our time for a beach clean up. Organzied by our friends at the Blue Ocean Society, the beach clean up was a great way to practice our values with the mainland community, and broadens the scope of our sustainabiliy efforts through the Green Gosport Initiative. Our work to make Star Island a greener, more sustainable place can only get better if we practice what we talk about with others.

Our clean up focused on the “Drowned Forrest” beach near Odiorne’s Point in Rye, NH with the Isles of Shoals just off on the horizon. During this clean up our staff collected a little over 37 lbs of debris which included washed up nets, fishing gear, rope, plastic bags, styrofoam, and cigarette butts. As we picked up trash, we also recorded what we were picking up. The data will then go to state and federal agencies for informational purposes. We appreciated the time to be outdoors, and helping a cause we feel strongly about. Here are some snapshots from our afternoon:

Beach Clean Up 1-1

Our IT Manager, Warren Simard, records what debris he has picked up.

Beach Clean Up 2-2

CEJoe (left) goes to dispose of some debris while Food Service Manager John Bynum (center), and Director of Development Pam Smith (right) record data.

Beach Clean Up 3-3

Facilities Director & Island Manager Jack Farrell searches for debris.

Beach Clean Up 4-4

The team searches the beach for washed up debris.

Beach Clean Up 6-6

After collecting debris from the beach, we consolidate all of it into garbage bags.

Beach Clean Up 5-5

What’s CEO Joe Watts doing in this last picture? After weighing himself, Joe weighs himself plus a bag of collected debris to measure how much we gathered from the beach.

Star Island Teams up with Shoals Marine Lab and UNH Cooperative Extension

March 19th, 2015

Star Island is proud to announce two new internships this summer: Shoals Environmental Education Internships. Star Island is proud to partner with the Shoals Marine Lab and UNH Cooperative Extension to enhance environmental education across the entire Isles of Shoals this summer! The interns will work and live on both Appledore Island and Star Island. They will assist in developing and delivering education programs on Star Island, UNH Marine Docent Tours on Appledore, and with school group visits to SML. In addition, the interns will design an education program for all Isles of Shoals visitors focused on the “Gulls of the Shoals”. This portion of the program will be carried out in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Julie Ellis of Tufts University to help improve visitor interactions with resident seabirds. These interns will be mentored by Mark Wiley, NH Sea Grant/Youth and Family Extension Specialist and Arthur Eves, Island Naturalist at Star Island. We are grateful to Shoals Marine Lab and UNH Cooperative Extension for organizing and funding this program.

The Family Experience

March 17th, 2015

All Star 1 Family Conference Profile

However your family is made up, Star Island is your summer getaway. Both July and August are full with weeklong programs that you and your family can take advantage of, and are completely open to anyone.

Spending a week on Star attending one of these programs can best be compared to your entire family going to summer camp. There are unique and quirky traditions that any camper admires, and songs to sing while roasting marshmallows. Water sports start on our dock, and other outdoor fun can be found around the island.

Bringing your family to Star is about realizing you want a vacation that means something. You won’t be surrounded by tourist traps and backed up traffic. You will be surrounded by mesmerizing ocean views, and amazing people from all over the world.

The community aspect is huge, and Star’s welcoming atmosphere is fit for people who enjoy activities in large groups, or who relax best in solitude. There’s an option available at every turn.

Your Choices

The first choice is which summer program to attend. Our weeklong family-focused gatherings generally fall in the July and August months. Click here to see a full list of these programs. Once you get to Star, you and your family will be greeted with a number of choices.

Your Morning: Wake up to the sun rising and shining through your window, or stay in bed until the morning singers stroll pass exclaiming the breakfast menu and today’s weather. Others in your family might sleep longer, maybe even through breakfast, but you can find coffee on the front porch and a rocking chair waiting for you. Watch the morning Polar Bear swimmers jump off the dock for a rush before the breakfast bell rings. When it does, people will gather up their eggs and bacon, or oatmeal and fruit and head to one of the long tables. More coffee or tea is available. Kids might be running in late. Don’t forget to brush your teeth.

Children Putting on life vests

After Breakfast: Theme talks and workshops start shortly after breakfast. And youth groups meet in various places around the island to start their day. You can choose to attend a talk and listen to a leader in his or her field share important information on that week’s topic. Or, grab a newspaper from the Oceanic Hotel’s front desk and scan the news. A copy of the crossword puzzle is also available to try, and you might spend the morning hours focused on this. The front porch will come alive again as workshops break for coffee and conversation, and will quiet down again as people head back to work on art projects, practice for a talent show, or learn more from a speaker.

As you continue reading the newspaper, you see a youth group donning life jackets and heading down the ramp to the row boats. They’ll soon head over to Smuttynose Island for a day of exploration.

Lunch: The front porch buzzes with activity again as the crowd gathers by the dining hall doors waiting for the hostess or an appointed child to ring the lunch bell. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, salad and bread, cold water and juice wait at every table for eager guests to devour. You might find yourself eating with your entire family, or new friends. Children are probably gathered at several tables with the friends they just made in a youth group or while testing out the swing set waiting for the lunch bell to ring.

After dessert comes out, made by hand in our island’s bakery, you can head off for a leisurely walk along the boardwalk or around the half mile dirt road. While the views are plenty to hold your attention, walks are great for talking with a fellow Shoaler — our name for people who spend time on Star or any of the Isles of Shoals. You might discuss that day’s theme talk, plot out your act in the talent show, or wonder about the line-up for the afternoon softball game.

After Lunch: Before heading to an afternoon workshop, the dock is a great place to jump off of to cool down. Time your visit right, and the entire dock could be yours, or go down with your family for a cannonball contest. Heading back to the hotel to change into dry clothes, you’ll find our staff setting up the scoreboard for a softball game.

Star Gathering 2 Family Conference Profile

The afternoon, like the morning, is up to you. Will you attend a workshop or play a tennis match? Continue with whatever you’d like, and you’ll find that you’re spending your time on Star Island exactly the way you want to. And your family will be enjoying their time, as well.

When you hear cheering from the front lawn, you’ll know the softball game is about to start and one of your family members is up to bat. The weekly game finds staff and guests playing against each other for a year’s worth of bragging rights. The friendly games provide young and old an opportunity to work together.

The Evening: After social hour, and with dinner concluded (another tasty dessert put away, too), escape to the front porch or Summer House to watch the sunset. Afterwards, meander back to the hotel and find your seat for the talent show, or bring out a board game to play in the snack bar alcove with friends and family. And if you’re going to be that close to the snack bar, might as well order a classic lime rickey to sip on.

As the island seems to quiet down, the chapel bell will ring to signal it’s time to process to an evening service. Grab a candle lantern and head up the stone path to the chapel built in 1800. Find your seat and place your lantern on one of the wall sconces as singing starts to fill the old meetinghouse. This contemplative time allows people to reflect on their day, and often provides perspective on mainland life. Whether the chapel is a spiritual or Spiritual experience, the beauty of the minimalist services go hand-in-hand with time on Star.


Late Night: If you’re not exhausted from a day full of activities, an impromptu musicale might be happening in Newton where the festive atmosphere of social hour is alive again. Dance with friends and family to live music, or join a trivia game going on in another room.

As you step outside, you’ll see stars – lots of stars. Clear night skies on the island provide star gazing unequaled for miles.

Then you’re off to bed. A day on Star Island complete, a day full of choices on how you want to spend time with your family.

Click here to explore the array of multi-generational weeks perfect for families of all sorts.

Winter Caretaker Shares Story on NHPR

March 17th, 2015


The voice of Star Island’s winter caretaker was broadcast over the air recently when a story about her unique job and the journey that led her here was shared on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Reported by Sean Hurley, the piece provides a look into Alex de Steiguer’s background and the inspiration she finds on Star Island each winter for her creative work, which mainly focuses on photography.

Caring for Star during the winter means daily chores, checking on buildings, and shoveling snow as needed. But it also provides time for photographs.

I think for me it’s the scene itself. And with the photograph that I make of it I only hope that I can do that justice.

And what does Alex think of the island vs. the mainland?

But out here’s it’s like I’m a glass of water and I’m just filled right up and on the mainland I spill it all out.

Click here to hear the NHPR broadcast.

Youth Programs on Star Island Focus on Personal Growth and Spirituality

February 27th, 2015

The youth programs on Star Island are not your typical summer camp experience, and that’s just fine with us. Three distinct programs provide youth an opportunity to engage with others of a similar age going through an important, and hopefully memorable stage of life. Star Island offers a safe place to learn about leadership, spirituality, social justice and the power of community. These youth programs provide outlets for creative endeavors, personal growth, and spiritual practice.

Any youth is welcome to these valuable programs which find their basis in one of two religions: the United Church of Christ or Unitarian Universalism. The Star Gathering 1 and 2 Youth Conferences are built upon UCC traditions. The Youth Empowerment and Spirituality Conference is formed around the principles of the UUA. Learn more about these opportunities below:

Youth Empowerment & Spirituality

YES Conference Icon

Saturday, June 27 to Saturday, July 4

for ages 15 – 22

Every summer, this entirely youth-led conference occurs on beautiful Star Island. Escape from everyday life and build an open, spiritual community. YES is a transformative week of adventure, thought-provoking workshops, and self-empowerment. Daily workshops bring youth closer to understanding social justice issues, learning the nuances of softball on Star, and the opportunity to create art. This open, collaborative conference allows any attendee to lead their own workshop.
click here to learn more
click here to check out the YES blog

Star Gathering 1 Youth

Star Gathering 2 Youth Icon

Saturday, August 1 to Saturday, August 8

for youth entering grades 9 to 13 (high school graduates)

What is Holy to you? What is the Sacred? Is it your family? The Earth? God or Spirit of Life? Do you wonder what role you play in our universe? Or with the universe within yourself? These are important and exciting questions, ones that courageous and adventurous people have asked since our minds understood the wonders of our existence. Join SG 1 Youth for a week of enriching community experiences providing a chance to learn and grow.

click here to learn more

Star Gathering 2 Youth

Star Gathering 2 Youth Conference Icon1

Saturday, August 8 to Saturday, August 15

for youth entering grades 9 to 13 (high school graduates)

Spend this week exploring and learning about the major steps Star Island is taking to become a sustainable environment, and you will also see how those steps can apply to your own life as you move from teenagers to adults. Spend the week hiking, swimming, talking, taking once-in-a-lifetime excursions and building new things on the earth to learn more about how to not just survive adult life in our 21st Century world, but how to thrive in it.

click here to learn more

Looking for something else? We have programs focused on a myriad of topics like history, religion, and the arts. Click here to explore our complete 2015 program list.

On Volunteering: Good Work, Good People

February 27th, 2015

VolunteerSeanDElliotBelow is a note from one of our volunteers last year

Greetings Linda and Tim,

I hope this message will get to each of you so that you can have my thanks and my praise. I was part of the team of volunteer “worker bees” at Star Island last weekend. Every part of the experience was positive. It was well organized, from the first call for volunteers, to your prompt responses once I came on board, to clear statement of work expectations, to the work parties, themselves, and all the way to our Sunday departure.

My only earlier part in volunteer experience occurred 10 years ago when Joe Watts was Volunteer Coordinator. That was a positive encounter, too, and I now wonder why it took me so long to volunteer again.

During the weekend I was part of various teams or sub-groups. For the most part, I believe Hannah was our captain. It would be a mistake for me to neglect to comment on her leadership, organization skills and her unflappability. Aside from getting the necessary work done, I am really pleased to note that a volunteer weekend provides a structure and experience for a young person (Hannah and others) to develop leadership skills. Somewhere in Star Island’s structure there are some smart, thoughtful people at work.

I fully expected to share a room once on island and was prepared to do so. I don’t know how it happened, but Plan B was that I lucked into a single room. Thank you; that was a welcome courtesy that I appreciated.

The weekend was good, hard (not too hard) work and I left Star with a feeling of accomplishment. It was a job well done in the company of persons who have great affection for the island, its programs and its traditions.

Thank you, Ed Rubacha

Interested in Volunteering?

If you’re interested in volunteering on Star Island, please click here to sign up.

Take a Photograph on Star Island, Have a Memory Forever

February 26th, 2015

The photographs you take on Star Island will stay with you forever. Star is a true photographer’s dream with abundant sunlight. The historic structures surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean offer unique perspectives to focus your camera on. With little to block the view on Star Island, you will be amazed at the mesmerizing colors that sunrises and sunsets create. The wide open ocean and expansive skies are easy to fit into a shot, just as quiet nooks and table settings will delight your eye. It is no wonder that Star Island, known for its creative inspiration to writers and painters, has been hosting photographers for a number of years. Some come back year after year to our 44 acre island and find new subjects to photograph on each visit.

Taking part in a photography workshop on Star is simple and enjoyable. You’ll gain knowledge from other photographers and best practices for camera use. You’ll learn while doing, and you’ll find that on Star Island there is no shortage of natural beauty.

These programs on Star Island provide the best opportunities for practicing your photography skills whether a beginner or a pro:

Shooting Star Photography Retreat

Photo September Conference Icon

Thursday, September 10 to Sunday, September 13

This annual retreat for the NH Society of Photographic Artists is open to everyone interested in photography. Now in its 18th year, this retreat is great for both film and digital photographers. Participants will gather each day for a series of instruction with time set aside to take photos. This retreat provides an opportunity to learn from each other and to learn from guest photographers.

click here to learn more

Road Scholar Digital Photography Workshops

Road Scholar Conference Icon

Saturday, August 29 to Friday, September 4 or Saturday, September 5 to Friday, September 11

Explore, study and photograph the beautiful Isles of Shoals. Each day includes instruction, critique, historical studies, free time for exploring, composing and taking photographs and the mutual support of other photographers. Emphasis will be on composition, visual language and learning how to see. Beginning and experienced photographers are welcome.

click here to learn more

Star Arts

Arts Conference Icon

Saturday, June 20 to Saturday, June 27

This annual summer program provides a wealth of opportunity for the creative soul through a multitude of workshops. The photography workshop is special this year as it focuses on the spiritual photography. Instruction will be based on connecting your own spiritual aspect to taking pictures. Exercises will demonstrate ways to pick and set-up photo shoots. Photos will be discussed and critiqued throughout the week.

click here to learn more

Open Studio


Saturday, June 20 to Sunday, September 20

Throughout the summer you can come out to Star Island and use the island as the subject for your photography. Your photographs can juxtapose the textures of rocks against the clean lines of clapboard siding, or photograph migrating birds as they travel north or south. If you’re visiting for an overnight, make sure to be on the west end of the front porch come sunset to find one of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see.

click here to see some sunset photos

Looking for something else? We have programs focused on a myriad of topics like history, religion, and the arts. Click here to explore our complete 2015 program list.

Next Page »

Star Island is one of the rocky, wind-swept Isles of Shoals, located off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire. For over 100 years, summers here have provided individuals and families with a welcome respite from their busy mainland lives.

Star Island Corporation is a nonprofit organization which maintains the island and its facilities and provides hospitality services for visitors.

Contact Star Island

Phone: (603) 430-6272
Fax: (603) 430-6270
Island Phone: (603) 601-0832
Staff Email Address List

Star Island Corporation
Morton-Benedict House
30 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Get directions to the office

Content © 1999–2015 Star Island Corporation. Clouds photo © Axel Rouvin.
Other photos © their respective owners.