We recently read an article on the American Camping Association website entitled Who Are Your Campers? The article included a rather interesting illustration of statistics about children today. One of the pieces of data that most caught our eye was the statistic about children and media. According to the illustration, children today spend, on average, 7.5 hours with media. One of the key points of summer camp has always been the greatly reduced exposure to technology. It’s recommended that children sleep 8-10 hours a night, which leaves 14-16 hours left in a day. That means that approximately half a normal day for a child involves the use of media or technology of some kind. Even schools are focusing on transitions to electronic based curriculums. In contrast to the considerably less media exposure of previous generations, it’s easy to assume that summer camp must be practically culture shock to modern children who.
Although many camps offer activities, such as video and photography programs, the noticeably fewer technology options at summer camp leave campers with a considerable hole to fill. This is where athletics come into play. There is no shortage of sports at Camp Starlight, and campers quickly become very involved in both their intra and inter camp teams. The lack of outside distraction allows them to focus on athletic performance. Although it’s not about winning, per say, for the majority of campers, an astounding number of them voice pride in the improvement of their skills since last year or vocally share their objectives for this year with coaches and counselors over the first few days of camp. They clearly come with goals, which suggests that, contrary to what one might assume, campers actually anticipate a break from media outlets and look forward to it enough to take the time to outline ways in which they hope to improve themselves during their summer camp experience.
Summer camp used to be thought of as an escape to fresh air and nature from urban jungles. Perhaps it still is for some. It seems, however, that it has just as much become a respite from technology and the emphasis on social media that has overtaken the lives of contemporary children. Campers spend time at camp focusing on qualities of life that have taken a backseat to technology in recent years: the value of face-to-face communication, spending time outdoors being active, working toward personal goals in improving skills in sports or hobbies. This is one way in which the motivation for coming to summer camp may have changed but the hoped for end result is still the same. This also is what keeps summer camp a timeless option for filling children’s summers.