A recent article, “Can You Hear Me Now? Not if You’re at Summer Camp,” quotes a mom saying that she would pay extra for a tech-restricted camp experience! She explains that the first time she took her son to camp, he was on his iPod Touch the entire car ride, but the second time they made the drive, he didn’t even bring it in the car.
In that article, American Camp Association CEO Peg Smith explains, “Basically, summer camp is still considered an unplugged environment.” And that’s a really good thing, especially when you realize that, except for the precious weeks at camp, kids are plugged into some sort of solitary media environment for hours and hours each day.
In this era of immediate feedback and high communication, I acknowledge that it’s very difficult for a parent to change gears and feel comfortable not having that tether. Children today are accustomed to our running interference for them – because we can!
Here’s the good news, though: Not only do you not need to rescue your camper, you shouldn’t! And you definitely should not tell your camper to bring a cell phone “just in case.…” (assuming that is the camp’s policy, which it is for 70 percent of them). The unspoken message there is that she can’t be safe unless a parent is there to solve the problem. (Are you planning to be her roommate in college?! Or move in when he gets married?!)
One of the greatest things camp does for kids, besides giving them the time of their lives, is the opportunity to learn to navigate on their own – recognizing that they can depend on themselves to fix a problem they are encountering at the moment; to use their own voice.
What better place to practice growing up than at camp – where it’s virtually impossible to make a bad choice, where counselors are trained to coach and support their campers, where an emotionally and physically safe community has been created?
I urge you: don’t miss this window of opportunity. Where else can a child truly get away from it all and learn to stand on his own feet – and build a stronger brain of her own?
It’s really interesting, but just the other day I realized how nice that feeling is. Throughout the summer while camp is in session, I tell my friends not to call me on my cell phone because I never use it, even when I am in the office; and I never gave that comment much thought until now. It has dawned on me that I, too, unplug during camp – and it is freeing!
Hey, I read that even Malia Obama is allowed only one phone call from camp!