In a world of selfies, Instagram likes and Facebook’s new “love” feature, people are putting more emphasis on taking a picture of an experience than really enjoying and living in the experience itself. We participate in an event (concert, party, sporting event, social gathering) but spend most of the time trying to get the most artistic angle, the coolest filter and the best overall image quality to generate enough likes (and now loves) to make us feel valued, heard and appreciated online. As we view life through the camera function on our phones, we are missing the big picture, by trying to get a good one.
Since campers don’t have access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of those picture collage apps while at camp, the pictures that are taken of them are real, honest snapshots of what they’re doing at camp. They can’t sit and stare at a screen and crop and rotate and edit a picture before they post it. They can’t over analyze how they look or worry about if the camera got them at their best angle. The picture will show them sweaty, messy, busy, and real. It will show the macaroni and cheese stain on their shirt, the crazy faces they make as they fly down the zip line, and the real, genuine look of accomplishment when they face a fear for the first time.
Posing for pictures at camp is beneficial for the campers’ self image. It helps them see what parents and counselors and family member see when they look at the pictures; real kids having real fun. It helps campers become more confident about who they are without the need to fix, edit, change, crop or filter anything out. Kids get so wrapped up in social media and how they are portrayed to the world, always comparing themselves to others and forgetting to appreciate who they really are. Self confidence issues happen when teens begin to think that the perfect images displayed on their friends’ Facebook profiles are real life, and they begin to compare their life with others. They forget that for the one perfect picture that was posted, there were probably 50 others that were taken that didn’t make the cut. Letting campers see what they really look like when they are really having fun will help them realize that a picture of a t-shirt stained, muddy shoe kid having the time of their lives is so much more valuable than a perfectly timed selfie in the bathroom.
Campers will also realize that they just don’t have the time to be playing photo editor while they’re at camp. From the time they wake up until lights out at bedtime, they’re constantly going and doing and playing and exploring. The pictures captured of them doing these things don’t need a filter or any edits at all. There’s no time for that at camp.
Promoting high self esteem for campers is something counselors take very seriously, but a lot of it happens naturally. Kids learn that it is okay to just be a kid, and that every moment doesn’t have to have the wittiest, funniest hashtag. When family and friends back home see pictures of kids at camp, they get a real snap shot into a summer full of real friends, real adventures, real laughs and real, life changing experiences. #nofilter.