It’s Camp, It’s Real, It’s Fun and It’s Growth!

As I prepare for a promotion trip in the later part of this month, technology comes to mind. Years ago on one of my trips to do a home show in Washington, DC, I was stubbornly still using Google Maps that I had printed out and I took several copies of the areas I was traveling in to navigate my way to the shows and also where I was staying. I got royally lost trying to get from DC to Bethesda during rush hour traffic and in the waning light of the evening hopelessly trying to read those paper maps. After just barely making it to my show, I went on-line that night and ordered a Garmin GPS. Wow! What a revelation after its first use and I never looked back. This year as I travel I have recently put our camp video on my i-phone with the help of my tech-savvy friends and work colleagues. In between these events I have stumbled and bungled my way through and around many technological advances that have crept into my baby boomer lifestyle. My children have educated Anne and me in the many ways of “tech” and together we survive the onslaught of living in a screen based world.

I recently read an article that asked, how would you feel if you were asked to turn in your mobile phone while entering a national park? Would it help you connect more deeply with nature? That’s exactly what New Forest National Park in Great Britain has done, as they’ve jumped on the anti-technology bandwagon. The park has installed a “Tech Creche” locker system to gather and safely lock away the mobile phones of its visitors.

There’s a great ad on TV these days that shows a whole family engrossed in their screen of choice sitting at home on a beautiful day. They hear a knock at the door and it’s a bear along with many other animals of the forest who take the family hostage, throw them in a van and whisk them off to a wild place where they can connect with something way more magnificent that the multi-chip device that rules their existence. This and other ads can be found on www.discovertheforest.org.

My youngest son is working on his Eagle Scout project and he’s used technology to pin point GPS coordinates to place river mile markers on the French Broad River. In the old days this would have been a lot more challenging without Google Earth. I suppose that only time will tell as we get deeper into the how technology affects our daily lives. The positives are certainly positive and the negatives are many.

This is where camp comes in. For 8 days, 2 weeks or 3 weeks a camper attends Gwynn Valley and has no relationship with any kind of screen. It’s one-on-one or one-on-many communication with those around you. Adults and campers talk with you and you’re not drawn into the hypnotic world of a large or small screen. If you’re distracted it’s probably because you see someone at camp participating in something that you would like to try. Camp reconnects us with the real world of where food comes from, what is poison about poison ivy and how to avoid the allergic reaction, catching a giant tadpole almost at the stage of being a frog, learning to handle a real mountain bike not a virtual one, cooking over an open fire and more basic, learning how to build that fire. You can’t do all this in any other way. It’s camp, it’s real, it’s fun, and it’s growth and the kind of growth that makes for strong and resilient young folks. Camp is a stepping stone to greater things in life that can’t be provided by parents or school. As they get older children will have plenty of time to take in and learn all the positive things that can be accomplished with technology. Everyone needs to unplug, so come join us this summer and have your cup overflow with all the wonderful aspects of being outdoors. For a “positive virtual” look at camp check out this video: http://vimeo.com/114361671