Today's youth are a part of a generation that is more connected than ever before. Everyone with a cell phone can digitally engage with anyone, anywhere and anytime they wish. There are children as young as eight years old that have cell phones!
It's that time of year when many kids are heading off to sleep away camp for a couple of weeks (some for a month), and the cell phone is not an item on many camp's "suggested packing" list. I'm certain many children and parents will be upset to find out that the sleep away camp has a no cell phone policy. In fact, some sleep away camps have a strict policy regarding "no electronics" which also includes other handheld devices such as Kindle, iPod Touch, and Nintendo 3DS.
I believe there is great value to be gleaned from a sleep away camp experience, and electronic devices should not be allowed. Here are my reasons why.
1. It is one of the first steps toward independence. In essence, if your child has a cell phone they basically have a GPS device attached to them. Camp may be one of the only chances for your child to have free reign (to a certain extent) within their immediate environment.
2. It is an opportunity to learn valuable life skills.
4. Enjoy the outdoors. Activities such as climbing trees, building dens, playing catch, tossing a frisbee, riding bikes (to name a few) have been replaced by hours spent in front of television, computer or a variety of handheld electronic devices. I recently read that kids today average of 8 hours per day of "screen time" (that includes any during school hours). For some children, these experiences beyond the "concrete jungle" are eye opening experiences,, and it helps them realize that one can have fun without electronics.
5. Cultivating relationships with adults other than your parents and teachers. Being able to connect with a counselor (or more than one) is an excellent opportunity for children to develop a friendship with an adult that has no agenda.
6. Composing handwritten letters. This is sadly becoming a dying art form. It is a skill they rarely, if ever, get to practice. Handwritten letters to their parents allows children time to collect their thoughts and express their feelings without the potential ridicule from others (be it malicious or sarcastic) via social media. Many of them experience handwritten letters for the first time and really enjoy it!
Some camps are loosening the reigns regarding technology at their camps, but most are staying true to their "no electronics" policy.
Would you be able to survive not communicating with your child for 2,3, 4 weeks while they are at sleep away camp? Would your child be able to endure the camp experience without technology they use on a regular basis?
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