You’ve packed her sneakers, a sweatshirt for those cool evenings around the campfire, a swimsuit and her favorite stuffed animal. The camp checklist is all marked off, but you’re a little nervous…maybe you’ll feel better if you just pack one more thing. It’s not on the list, but you reason that it won’t take that much space in the bag: her phone.
Wait…before you slip a cell phone in your child’s camp bag, please consider these wise words from camp professionals.
“In today’s tech-intensive world, children rarely have a time to get out and just play,” says Heidi Truitt, outdoor experience manager for Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC). “By asking parents to leave the tech gadgets at home, we ensure that our campers get the full benefit of their camp experience.”
Truitt explains that the reason for Girl Scout camp’s no cell phone policy is two-fold. For starters, a child who is using her phone is not engaged in the activities at camp. Most of us would agree that it’s hard to learn archery when you’re glued to your phone.
Canoeing, hiking and adventure games are not the safest places for phones–either for the child or the device itself. We want our kids engaged in all the great things offered by the camp experience and technology definitely keeps them from focusing on nature, new camp friends or building skills in the great outdoors.
In the article “Phone Sick at Camp,” Jill Werman Harris shares a study by Dr. Yalda T. Uhls that tracked the benefits of five days without technology in a camp setting. This included interpersonal communication skills and growth as well as nonverbal emotional comprehension.
The second reason to leave cell phones at home? Trust.
“When children come to camp they—and you—are making a leap of faith, entrusting the camp team with your child. As children learn to trust other caring adults, they grow and learn, little by little, to solve some of their own challenges,” says Truitt, who holds a BS degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Environmental Education and Social Studies and has been working in the camp industry for more than twenty years.
She explains that building self-reliance and independence is one of the most impactful benefits of the summer camp experience. And this goes for parents as well as children. We know you’ve done your research about camp qualifications for your child. “GSHCC camp staff are all specially trained in the development of girls. From social development to nutrition and confidence-building, the team is prepared to nurture girls through camp–whether it’s her first or tenth summer with us.”
Camp staff training includes first aid certification, group management, child development, outdoor skills and of course thorough background checks. Many of our camp staff have been working with us for several years, and have an extensive “toolbox” of ways to help your child grow and feel secure at camp.
Accreditation by the American Camp Association (ACA) ensures that a camp has passed an extensive examination of safety practices, staff qualifications and training, emergency procedures and more–all designed to ensure that the the camp is a safe place for your child to learn and grow. By trusting our professionals to care for and support your child, you’re giving her the confidence to trust us as well.
How can you help?
Building resiliency is one of the greatest benefits of sending your daughter to camp.
You can help by talking with your child before she leaves for camp and telling that there is always someone she can reach out to, whether it is her counselor, a trusted activity leader, the camp director or camp health care manager. By demonstrating confidence in us, you’re showing her that you trust her as well. It’s a win-win-win all the way around.
Dr. Chris Thurber, a psychologist, author and advisor for camps and parents shares advice about equipping your child and yourself with ways to prepare for camp in “The Great News about Homesickness” as well as other articles on his website, Camp Spirit.
Of course, we want you to know what’s going on at camp, and having a window into your daughter’s camp experience is a lot of fun.
Sure, you’ll miss her, but when you see photos of her goofing around with her friends, trying new things and building new skills, you’ll know that bit of separation anxiety was well worth it.