It is no secret that with the advent of technology, more and more parents strive to find that perfect balance of screen time and family time.
With the interpersonal interactions of everyday life shifting further towards screen to screen rather than face to face, it is important to know when to unplug. There is a growing awareness of the double edged sword that is the wonder and the pervasiveness of technology in our modern lives. For some, it seems strange that when it comes time to pack for camp, you will seldom find a phone, tablet or laptop on the packing list.
Summer camp acts as a digital detox, or a technological palate cleanser for many campers. At home you may be met with an eye roll when talking to your child about powering down their phones and being fully present in the moment. At camp, we find, it is an entirely different story. Children interact, are entertained and are educated, all without the use of a screen.
One of my favorite anecdotes on the subject comes from a 16 year old camper, who came up to me on the last day of camp looking concerned and frustrated. Her mother had arrived to pick her up, and with her came the camper's cell phone.
"Rachel! I need your help," she said, shoving the phone at me. "I can't even remember my passcode!" Having been with us for 6 weeks, the camper had detached herself from her phone so much so that even the 4 digit code escaped her. It seemed to me a perfect demonstration to her that she can, in fact, fathom and flourish in life without technology.
For those who have never been to summer camp before, it seems crazy that you enter a bunk full of perfect strangers, and after two short weeks leave, teary eyed, feeling like family. The relationships fostered at camp are unlike those forged in any other environment. It is easy to see the correlation between these intense bonds and the fact that children are more or less cut off from the world of Instagram, Snapchat and Netflix, and instead are immersed in hands on learning.
At camp, children are taught the difference between watching a YouTube video of someone performing waterski tricks, and the thrill of them being on the lake first hand, standing up on their skis for the first time. The difference between searching online for the perfect Tie Dye shirt, and making one with your own two hands, and the difference between looking at a cool photo of a s'more on Instagram, and actually feeling the heat of the fire while roasting your own marshmallow.
Camp allows a child to tap into a learning model that you are hard pressed to find elsewhere. One that promotes self-discovery and development through hands on learning and face-to-face interpersonal relations. It seems to me that this must be the most fun detox in the world! :)