BT Unplugged

The last few days at camp have been absolutely gorgeous. Projects, trips, and evening programs are all in full swing and the campers are having a blast. It’s hard to believe that first session is already entering its last week, and that the summer is almost halfway through. After a lifetime in camping, I’m still amazed, year after year, how quickly time flies by here. At last week’s staff meeting, I reminded the staff that before they know it, the first session campers will be going home and that they should be mindful to make the most of their time with these wonderful kids.

But since we’ve got one more week left of first session, I know we’ll all make the most of our time together. I especially love seeing the campers take a break from all the cell phones, iPods, computers, and TVs that pervade life at home. I enjoy modern conveniences, gadgets, and toys just as much as the next guy, but there’s something special about getting to camp and unplugging from all the devices that seem to run our lives these days. Heck, we even discourage the use of watches around here! Camp is a place for kids to get away from the things like computers and TV, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and immerse themselves in nature, even if that just means taking the time to enjoy a pretty sunset.

Today, educators and social scientists are beginning to analyze the impact that multitasking between so many electronic devices can have on the brain. Though it seems obvious, I think we are all surprised to learn just how directly the act of “toggling” can impact the mind’s ability to develop. Of course there is no stopping the advancement of technology, but it is important for kids to take a break every now and then. With this in mind, we teach our campers to slow down and take a deep breath, to relax and enjoy the moment of simply being a kid.

The constant use of electronics can sometimes cause children to feel uncomfortable when they are not being stimulated. More and more, we see children who can’t find ways to fill spaces of down-time without television, telephones, or computers. Children are forgetting how to simply sit in the woods and enjoy the quiet.

Camp really is a sanctuary from the pressures of real life, and it warms my heart to see how easily kids relearn how to be kids here. Tonight I passed by two campers, quietly sitting on a bench down by the waterfront. To see two teenage girls—in this fast-moving world–enjoying the simple pleasure of sitting with a friend to watch a sunset makes me think that we must be doing something right here at Birch Trail.

The pleasures of dressing up in silly costumes, dancing and lip-synching to crazy songs, and going for long walks or bike rides seem to be amplified when things like technology, popularity, and fashion are not a factor. We like to work on getting back to basics and slowing down in order to realize what is really important. Looking through the pictures from today’s events and seeing so many smiles on the faces of our campers and staff, I can tell that so far, this method seems to be working pretty well.

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