The Power of Unplugging at Sleepaway Camp
Written by Lauren Kasnett, Co-Founder + Summer 365 Counselor
Give me a U
Give me a N
Give me a P
Give me a L
Give me a U
Give me a G
WHAT'S THAT SPELL?
Yea, you know what we're talking about. UNPLUG! It's a simple and beautiful (and perhaps elusive) concept that is becoming a big fixture of conversation for us lately. One of the most commonly asked questions and discussions we engage parents in about sleepaway camp is - what is the electronics policy? And of course it is. In a world where we are totally and pretty much unavoidably immersed in technology, parents want to know what happens during summertime at camp.
In our everyday lives, for both parents and kids alike, there are a whole lotta screens and a whole lotta hours logged in front of them. Between cell phones, computers, TV, video games, and apps we are constantly connected and forever liking / commenting / scrolling / refreshing (and we bet sometimes you even think you feel your phone buzzing even when it's not... yes this has a name it's called Phantom Vibration Syndrome). And this is a not an anti-technology PSA. In fact, we love technology (wait for it... here is our plug) and hope you enjoy our website, blog, and social media accounts! However, as wonderful as technology is we know our kids are spending too much time connected to their screens and not enough time connecting to real people in real life. There is an increasing amount of research showing that technology is affecting our biological capacity to connect with other people (Barbara L. Frederickson, a professor of psychology at UNC, wrote a great op/ed piece in the NYT "Your Phone vs Your Heart").
So this takes us back to that question what is the electronics policy at camp? And we are over-the-moon, elated, jubilant, and ear-to-ear when we tell our clients that by and large the majority of sleepaway camps are electronic free zones. We can almost always hear a smile over the phone in the event that a parent doesn't give a small cheer or a "that's awesome!" While every camp has their own specific policy (some do not allow campers to bring anything with screens, others just prohibit wifi enabled devices, some only allow music on an mp3 player, and so on) there is a common ethos and philosophy shared by camp directors and leaders - camp is a time to unplug which provides the opportunity for SO MUCH MORE. It is a time to connect, communicate, collaborate, engage, and be outdoors and have fun! Children will write letters home (yes ones actually sent via snail mail) and sit for a meal without a phone or iPad in hand and have conversations. Isn't that a beautiful thing?!
So there will be none of this...
and lots of this...
We wanted to share this absolutely fantastic, insightful, and powerful TED Talk from camp industry leader, Steve Baskin. He so poignantly articulates the conundrum we face with modern technology when it comes to our kids, and he explores the most magical place where kids can unplug and create genuine connections and friendships and learn critical interpersonal skills. It's a place where both elementary aged kids and teenagers put down their phones, log off the computer, turn off the game system AND thank their parents for it. We bet you can guess where this place is, eh?!!? This is a must watch (especially for any parents who have friends that aren't so sure about sending their child away to camp or if you have spouse that needs some convincing). Share this video and spread the summer camp love!
Unplugging Our Kids: Steve Baskin at TEDxSanAntonio