Escaping from the world today is difficult. The internet and mobile devices ensure we stay updated on the latest trends, news, memes, fun animal videos, and which friend just had a baby. In this era of screens, likes, shares, downloads and clicks, camp endures as an opportunity to make genuine, human connections. Campers and staff rediscover face-to-face interactions, the beauty of playing outdoors, and organically grow problem-solving and interpersonal skills. For over 150 years, camp hasn’t needed a screen to do this.
Last fall, CBS’s “60 Minutes” produced a story about the National Institute of Health launching a 10-year study following over 11,000 nine and 10-year-olds. Between interviews, observations and brain scans, this study aims to research the effects of screen time on child development. On top of that, smart phones now can track your screen time and suggest breaks. Everywhere, people search for the Goldilocks of tech use. They don’t want too much to fry the brain, not too little to miss out on the benefits, but just the right balance for healthy development.
Unplugging encourages young people to develop 21st Century Skills that aren’t always the focus in school. Camp generously provides opportunities to develop interpersonal, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. It emphasizes in-person communication and helps foster creativity and innovation through both structured and unstructured activities. Whether learning a new craft in arts or conquering a challenge course with teammates, camp’s old-school ways prepare young people for the new 21st century.
Tracking the National Institute of Health study for the next decade will be interesting. These findings may set the benchmark for what’s considered healthy screen time. Until then, we know the benefits of camp and the screen-free culture most camps embrace. In this environment, camp allows both children and staff a chance to unplug, connect, and explore. For a week, a month, or the whole camp season, consider sending your child to camp for a screen-free alternative this summer.
Provided by the American Camp Association, New England.