I can’t imagine the founders of Camp Mishawaka – way back in 1910 – could have imagined that 110 years later one of the profound benefits of a Camp experience would be providing children a break from their handheld computers! Or maybe they could? The summer camping movement arose in response to a sense that children were losing their connection with the outdoors. Modern conveniences, like electricity, indoor plumbing and other turn-of-the-century advancements, were making kids “soft” – or so the pioneers of summer camps thought. Fast forward one century and the respite from technology is still a big part of the benefit of a summer camp session, even if the rationale has changed.
In her book, Untangled – Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, Dr. Lisa Damour
talks about the benefit of a digital vacation for children when she says, “With limited access to their phones they learn to summon their own resources and capitalize on in person support.” The camp experience has always been about connecting kids with each other, and nature. The benefits of this opportunity continue today.
Nature in Minnesota is inhospitable right now, as you have no doubt seen, but the summer brings opportunity to explore the lakes and forest that surround Camp Mishawaka without having to bundle up! Jumping in the lake for a morning dip, learning about the natural world, or just soaking up a sea of stars in the night sky grounds kids in a very important way. It allows them to slow down and appreciate, notice things they may not have noticed before and engage with other kids from across the US and the globe.
I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but the story is familiar. A student asks his or her teacher why they must study when all the answers are available on the internet. The teacher’s response: Because none of the questions are.
Pico Iyer, the travel writer sums it up nicely when he says:
All the data in the world cannot teach us how to sift through data; images don’t show us how to process images. The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen.
I don’t pretend to know all the places one can find such clarity, but I do know of one, and we are happy to share it with you and your child.