Oh, To Be Tech-Free!

There has been considerable press around the use of personal technology recently. Earlier in the summer, we linked to this article from the New York Times: Link

We know the struggle of responsible use of technology. As adults we are continually challenged with social media demands, constant connectivity and expectations of immediate contact. Even at camp, those of us in administration are juggling cell phones and radios. The cell phones allow for group texts around Infirmary updates, schedule changes and other essential information that doesn’t need to go out on the radio. When we do get back into the office, the email inbox always calls. Many of us are examining when and why we are on our devices. Is our use of technology impacting our relationships and our wise use of our time?

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The good news in all of this is watching our campers be “tech-free.” We know the relationships built at camp are stronger because they are not paused for technology. We also know that the level of engagement of our girls in their activities and with their cabinmates is 100% thanks to the lack of technological distractions. The best way to assess this success is to watch our leadership girls when they have a night off from camp. Their cell phones that are collected on the first day are returned to them for their night out. The group that has gathered in the office excitedly chatting about their plans for the evening immediately goes silent as the phones go on. We know we will get the girls back to being fully engaged upon their return. However, I do worry about the success of the evening. Is it just spent on their phones, or do they continue to talk to one another and share the time together?

Last night was a particularly heart-warming reminder of all that childhood can be. The evening program was Cabin Adventure. Each cabin plans a fun evening together, and the activities range from baking cookies to tie-dying. This is the time that creativity can take off at light speed. In addition to the expected adventures, I saw a group making ice cream in a bag and another cabin decorating t-shirts. My favorite of the evening was the pillow pet formal wedding complete with the “Wedding March” and light refreshments at the reception. The girls used hair ties as the rings for the betrothed pillow pets. The girls thought of everything!

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The August session at Keystone is pure joy. The campers have waited all summer to get here, and they find pleasure in the simplest things. I appreciate our girls for reminding me how important simplicity is. Do I really have to find my phone?