Technology keeps changing, as camp keeps working to provide an experience to kids that’s timeless.
We spoke with Lenny Kass, the longtime director of the JCC Rainbow Day Camp of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. We asked, what are some of the ways camp deals with tech today?
–> 1. Staff comes up with the policy
Each year, administrators sit down with staff and ask them what they think their own rules should be on personal technology. “We’re dealing with college students who are so addicted to their phones,” Kass said, so he feels it’s important to get “buy in.”
–> 2. So what was the policy?
This past summer, the idea was to ban use of phones for staff from the initial bus stop until leaving the bus for home.
Counselors and other staff decided that a staff member’s first infraction would require an apology note to camp on why you used your cell phone. Then, it was to be spell checked and corrected and handed back to you!
–> 3. Only two people can use their phone
At Rainbow Day Camp, only two people can use their phone. They are the director and associate director.
–> 4. Communication alternatives
“We use walkie talkies to communicate amongst ourselves,” Kass said. “We function very nicely.”
If the outside world must get in touch with someone, a call to the office is always possible. And in extenuating circumstances, a camper or counselor can obtain permission to check a cell phone.
–> 5. Campers may not use phones
“Our campers are not allowed to have phones,” Kass said. A camper can have one in a backpack but may not take it out.
It’s often the parents who want their children to have a phone on them, for safety or arranging things.
–> 6. No Internet
There are computers at camp, but they don’t connect to the Internet. One activity involves microscopes and the other a GoPro camera, but administrators are careful to disconnect the cyber world for those activities.
–> 7. No computer games
When it comes to technology, Kass said, “We do not do anything with games.”
–> 8. But why no phones?
There are a lot of reasons why camp avoids phones. Here’s one: bullying. Getting rid of the bullying and competitiveness that can exist in the digital world is a good thing, Kass said.
“We used to have a computer lab and we no longer have a computer lab,” Kass said. “What we found is that the kids today are just in front of the screens enough as it is.”
He added: “At camp we have an activity where kids must make up games. They’re too tied to their screens. Let’s learn how to play again. Take two balls, three hoops, two sticks and make a game out of it.”