The Importance of Being Disconnected at Camp!

Camp Specialists asked Mark Newfield, Owner and Director of Iroquois Springs Camp, why being disconnected at Camp is so important…. This is what he had to say…….

We all know having the world at your fingertips has its incredible advantages.  The internet has provided us access to so much information we were in years past unable to get so quickly.  Unfortunately, it has some drawbacks like scrolling through news feeds flooded with images and updates of everyone’s lives on social media.  Kids today know one another’s every move and they are comparing themselves to those who appear to have it all, often resulting in increased anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.  FOMO (fear of missing out) is more prevalent than it’s ever been.  Research shows that FOMO is associated with loneliness, lower mood and life satisfaction. Gone are the days of not knowing you weren’t invited to a party. What we didn’t know didn’t hurt us.  Today, kids know what’s going on with every Instagram post and Snapchat, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to protect them from feeling excluded or like they don’t measure up to their peers.  It can be devastating, even for the most well-adjusted kid, to see a picture of a gathering they were not invited to.

Now that young people are spending a majority of their waking hours connected to some device, it’s important for parents, educators, coaches and mentors to protect kids from feeling the negative impact of social media.  We need to teach them life skills and the inner strength to cope with the upsets of social media.  Yes, it feels terrible to be left out, but pictures only show a moment in time and are not always what they appear to be.  We can let kids know that they can’t be invited to everything, and we can encourage them to be mindful when they are posting pictures of their events.  Most kids are not posting with the intention of being hurtful, they just want to share the fun they are having.  Most importantly, we can encourage them to put down the phone, and be a part of experiencing life in real time.  

Kids who attend overnight camp are given the amazing gift of a much-needed breather from social media and being connected all the time. Being unplugged at sleepaway camp gives kids the opportunity to experience life offline.  And thanks to the screen-free policy at most overnight camps, campers don’t feel they are missing out on posting and viewing how their friends are spending their summer…they instead are building their own experiences and memories with their camp friends, in real time.  There is no FOMO at camp because everyone is part of the picture.  Campers learn to socialize and communicate without using a screen.  They get a much needed break from social media and gain life skills of independence, problem solving and teamwork, and create real friendships that don’t require “likes.” No tapping away, no pings, and no distractions… it’s all very liberating. Campers build the confidence and resilience they need for when they return to the world of social media and are faced once again with the constant sharing of our times.

We at Camp Specialists have one word to say… AMEN!!!!!!!!