Opening day at camp. Kids flow in, excited, nervous and happy to reunite with old friends. Already on full sensory alert, they feel for their pocket in comfort patting their ever-present companion, their phone. But wait, it is not there. What is wrong with this picture?
For approximately the first 36 hours there is a noticeable shift in the ways children interact as they are weaned from their electronic companions. Slowly, they focus longer, attentions elongate and conversations tend to linger. At about 48-72 hours after they arrive, there is a noticeable collective sigh as campers relax into a phoneless routine and the new reality is about face to face connection and communication, learning and doing.
Camp is a tech free haven. Campers and counselors re-learn the importance of being present, acting in the moment and taking time to communicate face to face. It is about relationships and figuring out how to live in a community accompanied by elders who care for them.
There is no substitute for time or, for the invaluable experience of being among others where connections are made on unique and profound levels. Much of that connection and growth is facilitated in a people centered environment where campers are heard, and listened to, and know they are valued not by any on-line persona, but by who they are as individuals.