Camp Is Time to Unplug: New Experiences Allow Kids to Leave Virtual World Behind

By Laurie Evans

While going to camp has always seemed like a good way for kids to spend their summers, a recent survey makes camp sound not just good but essential for our youngsters.

According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published in 2010, kids ages 8 to 18 years old spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media during a typical day.

That means an average kid spends more than 53 hours a week plugged into his TV, iPod, cell phone or video games.

That’s well over one-third of our kids’ waking hours!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an American child is six times more likely to play a video game on any given day than ride a bike.

When you add to the fact that more than 22 million children in the U.S. are obese, it becomes clear that we parents need to pull the plug on some of our children’s devices.

What better way to unplug than a week or two (or 10) at summer camp?
Wanda DeWaard, Section Executive for the American Camp Association, agrees.

“Being plugged in is so isolating for children,” DeWaard said. “And going to camp is a great way to make sure that they get a balanced life experience.”

In fact, one thing that most camp programs share is the rule that tech devices stay at home.

Whether it’s a theater camp, an art camp, a soccer camp or a traditional outdoor experience camp, most require that cell phones and video games stay at home or buried deep in the backpack, only to surface when it’s time for Mom and Dad to pick up campers.

DeWaard applauds this policy, saying, “Cell phones encourage homesickness.”
What summer camp encourages are all the things that entertainment media can’t provide.

DeWaard sums it up this way, “Camp is all about experiencing life directly rather than virtually.”

Benefits of Summer Camp

  • Getting physically active
  • Experiencing new activities in a safe
    environment like archery, rock climbing, canoeing,
    acting or painting
  • Unplanned, open-ended play time with peers
  • Experiencing nature first-hand
  • Making new friends