At Camp, Disconnect and Reconnect

Mar 19, 2018, 11:55 AM by Andra Coberly

We all know that technology is as addictive, as craveable and as ubiquitous as sugar. It’s everywhere, and it’s nearly impossible to quit. 

For you, technology is somewhat requisite. Work, home and play all require that your phone, tablet or computer must be at arm’s length at any given moment. But you also remember the good ol’ days of fax machines and phone booths, and you may even participate in the occasional social media cleanse. The point is, you are aware of the role of technology in your life — for good or bad. You can appreciate its benefits, but you know its traps and tribulations. 

For your kids, technology is a different beast. It has weaved itself into the fabric of their existence. FOMO aboundsStress, pressure and anxiety flourish. And let’s be honest, our kids lack the perspective, experience and awareness to realize how social media influences their perspective and emotions.

So what’s a parent to do?

Give your kid a vacation from Snapchat. Help them disconnect from technology and reconnect with peers, mentors, nature, their own abilities and their self-perception. 

That’s where summer camp is a hero.

Summer camp is the BEST way to give your kiddo a classic childhood experience. And when I say classic, I mean an eating-s’mores-by-the-campfire, splashing-in-a-lake, sleeping-on-a-bunk-bed, making-friendship-bracelets-and-climbing-mountains type of summer. I mean waving good-bye to mom, dad, friends, Amazon and Netflix for days, possibly weeks, of pure, simple fun.

Let your child wander where the wifi is weak and the stars are bright.

It’s not just absence of technology that helps kids grow and thrive at camp. With the help of counselors, campers challenge themselves in safe ways. They try new things. They fail. And then they try again — because falling off a paddleboard is actually kind of fun. And then eventually they succeed, and they feel the joy and pride of achievement and resilience.

So they try more new things. And they have more success.

They also develop a different kind of friend. Camp friends form strong bonds that last years, because they are connected around this unique experience and the activities they are enjoying together. Together, they learn to directly communicate and solve problems, they learn to be respectful and to appreciate the respect of others. 

And then there’s nature. As one camper once told me, “When you’re at camp, it’s just peaceful. It’s the trees.” With awe, he looked up at the looming alpines that created a halo around the picturesque campgrounds. This connection kids form with nature creates a lifelong love of the environment. It means years of hiking, biking, camping and exploring. It means you are raising an adventurer, an outdoorsperson. 

When you send your kid to an unplugged camp, you will also give your kids a little perspective. They will experience life without a phone or TV or Instagram, and they will learn that it is pretty awesome. With hope, they will learn that it’s people and experiences that bring happiness, not apps or IMs. That’s a priceless lesson to learn.