Fridays with Franky: The Unplugged-at-Camp Conundrum
Happy Friday, WeHaKee Family! I am so glad I get the chance to join your newsfeed, your email inbox, and where ever else you have found my blog.
At WeHaKee we use social media and the internet for lots of things. We have a Facebook page, an Alumnae group, an Instagram, a Twitter, Pinterest, and email newsletter, and of course this amazing blog! It allows us to engage with each other as a community when we can’t be at camp together.
I think it’s so special to be able to show parents how much fun we are having at camp, to share memories captured, and allow a seek peek into the inner workings of camp. In saying all of this, I really want to capture how valuable I find it.
So why don’t we use phones, WiFi, or social media at camp outside the office? Why are all our camper areas technology-free?
We know that the short time at camp is so important for building both independence and relationships. We then recognize that our world has evolved to allow us to stay connected like never before, which we hope our campers do, to form life-long friendships.
“Being unplugged” can feel so good. Lots of our campers say that they enjoy the time without the pressure constant connection can come with. But I know that sometimes the transition can be hard, even for campers that don’t have TONS of “screen time” at home. At school and out and about in the world, we consume a variety and abundance of different media. Camp is so much less saturated, and routines change.
So WeHaKee wants to help you unplug, but we don’t do that with our eyes shut to how the world is. For goodness sake, I’m a camp dog with a blog!
I’ve been reading this article from Camping Magazine from September 2017, “Camp’s Role in Social Media Wellness,” by Ann Homayoun. Ann writes about the considerations camps need to take in making a social media policy, from the mission-driven aspects to the logistical and legal considerations. It’s helped me to reflect on some of the things WeHaKee has done in making our policy.
For context, WeHaKee’s policy means that personal electronics, with the exception of devices that solely perform the functions of music or picture-taking are not allowed on camp. In making this policy, we thought about the things we want our campers to be able to do while at camp:
- Experience and live our values of community, compassion, justice, truth, and peace while building meaningful relationships.
- Feel at home in nature and in their faith, without the distraction of social media.
- Take pictures (and have access to pictures that WeHaKee takes) of their time at WeHaKee to keep as memories.
- Share appropriate music and books with their camp friends.
- Be independent and learn new ways to problem-solve.
Can you see how much we think about this? And we don’t expect to always have all the answers. New tech brings us back to the drawing board, like wearable electronics (think Apple watch) and the prevalence of music on phones rather than on seperate devices. We strive to create fair, clear, values-driven policies.
So know that we do everything to make camp SO fun and SO beneficial. Even the most boring and obvious sounding policies have lots of love and intention behind them.
Don’t hesitate to ask us what any of our policies mean! We will keep our eyes on them, trying to keep up with the world so that camp can be connected with this century without being fully plugged in all the time.
And see you at camp!