As I sit here having packed so much underwear and clothes to ship off to sleep away camp in advance (as required) that my kids have nothing left to wear, I’m reminded of this piece I wrote…for was speaking to a woman I adore and admire, Jess Weiner, a self-esteem and self-empowerment expert who recently gave a talk to Youth Camp Associations.
She was telling me that one of the big issues at camps today is whether kids should be allowed to bring their technology to camp, and how cell phones, and email are fundamentally changing the camp experience.
Camp is no longer a remote experience where children separate from their parents and school friends. Instead, they stay connected to their old world, often not creating new friendships and bonds, sitting in their cabins, email and texting about how much “this place sucks.”
One child sent an email to his parents about what a miserable, horrible day he had. His parents drove up the next day and tried to pull him out. The child was shocked. He was fine by the time they arrived. Another group of girls at a camp where cellphones were banned smuggled them in. In their Pillow Pets. They were busted when the Lady Bug started ringing.
As the mother of a camper, frankly I don’t want to hear it if my kids are miserable. I suppose in my heart I know they will be at times. They’ll get over it. Part of going to camp is learning to be happy on your own. And dealing with the sadness when you’re not. So if we always give our kids these lifelines are we going to make them better knowing they can send a missive hoping to be rescued? Who are we helping? Them or us? And for the parents who think their kids need a cellphone for emergencies why are you sending them to a camp not prepared for emergencies anyway?
Believe me, I probably couldn’t survive for a month without my gadgets. I can’t survive a day without my Iphone. Or my Ipad. And I believe that kids can and should become well versed in technology. I also believe that there are times for them to connect with each other…I know we live in a connected world, and I pity my son the 5 hour bus ride there and back — but for one month, I really think they can live in a gadget-free universe.