Apps like Pokémon Go created a nightmare for camp directors a few summers ago. Staff, who hoped to create a tech-free summer camp experience ran headlong into a pop-culture trend that requires a smartphone. While most camps set the expectation in advance that the summer camp experience will be device-free, it’s difficult for some kids to detach from their games and social-media habits. Kids want to take pictures, access social media and they just want to feel connected. Phones have become everything; maps, cameras and mini-computers.
You can help your child adjust to a tech-free summer camp experience by using these tips to start preparing them at home.
• Talk to your kids in advance about ditching the devices, but with a positive approach to the change.
• Intentionally unplug for at least a few hours each day leading up to camp. This works best if the whole family, not just the camper, participates.
• You’ll ultimately enjoy having more time to engage with your kids, but be prepared for a few complaints and maybe even a few
tantrums at home before they head off to camp.
Now that you’ve helped to wean them off their phones, how will they cope without technology at camp?
Some camps treat device withdrawal like homesickness and try to keep campers busy to take their minds off of technology. Another important strategy is to find alternate ways for kids to communicate with their families. Camps usually prefer that parents call the camp office to check in on kids, rather than text kids directly.
Also, parents can write old-fashioned letters and send them in the mail, it will also show that you are unplugging, too.
Camp directors agree, a camp experience without electronic devices gives kids a better chance to form solid friendships.