According to the CDC, children ages 8-10 spend an average of six hours each day in front of a screen while that number increases to nine hours for kids ages 11-14. That seems like a lot, even too high to be true. But there’s no denying that many kids spend way too much time in front of their devices, even when some of that time is for educational or other valid purposes.
Whether it’s for two weeks or seven, what are kids missing out on by being screen-less at camp? There is no urgent phone call coming, no bills that need to be paid, no show that won’t be on Netflix for eternity, and no insta-story that must be seen. There is no birthday wish that can’t be sent the old fashioned way, no breaking news story to follow, no dinner reservations to make, and no need to count how many steps are walked.
Instead, this tech-free time affords kids the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate that which they probably do not get enough of the rest of the year. Time to be outside, to take healthy risks and try something new, to engage in meaningful conversations, to mentor someone younger, to look up to someone older, to learn resilience through challenging situations, to become more independent without Mom and Dad, to support other people, to advocate for themselves…the list goes on and on.
Sometimes I look at camp as this last frontier of developed space and one that needs protecting. Of course, our facilities, programs, and activities will continue to modernize to keep up with the demands and interests of our families and campers in today’s ever-changing world. But surely we can and must guard the sanctity of camp, free from the rings and dings, and lights and sounds, that clutter our minds and distract us from the ever-important moments right in front of us, the ones that add true value and meaning to life, and can’t be found on a screen.