Tween and Teenagers
It’s time to Unplug. Lessons I learned at Summer Camp
I just returned from a week of summer camp where I teach Bible lessons to campers. Campers are instructed to leave their electronic devices (including cell phones) at home. Camp is what I like to call “unplugged”. The staff and counselors do use electronics discreetly while on breaks but must be out of sight to the campers. To be honest, everyone is so busy they rarely have time to check emails or text messages; after all it’s camp.
I thought it would be interesting to mill around outside before registration and listen to conversations between campers and their parents about the whole “unplugged” idea. I compiled my findings in a letter of sort from a camper to his parents. I imagine the letter going like this:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am having a great time here at camp. We get up at 7:15 a.m. every morning and walk down to the morning circle. We sing some crazy songs about “bubble gum, a whale named Fudgy and wearing our pink pajamas”. Then we hear from the minister in residence who tells us what we will be learning in our lesson from her that day. We have a competition song to see who gets to leave for the long walk to the dining hall first.
Did you know that the sunrise in the morning is absolutely beautiful? Guess I never noticed it before because I am usually sleeping at that time of day.
After we eat breakfast we clean up after ourselves. Then we return to our hogans to make our beds and tidy up before we head out for a full morning of activities. We return to the dining hall at 12:30 for lunch and after that we rest. I didn’t realize that naps are really cool, but then again I am usually still asleep at that hour anyway.
At 2:15 we are back up and out the door for a full afternoon of more activities. Did I mention that we walk EVERYWHERE? But I am having a great time talking and singing with my counselors and friends along the way, and honestly I do not mind the walking.
After an afternoon of hiking, mountain boarding, swimming and zipping down the zip line into the lake, we have dinner. On Wednesday night we had a cookout where we cooked our own dinner over an open fire in this contraption called a Dutch oven. (We should really buy ourselves one of those things.) We made this stuff called “pizza in a pot” which was so yummy.
There's a nighttime activity which can be anything from a scavenger hunt or a night swim to performing skits. After that we hit the showers and head back to our bunks for some time of reflection; they call it vespers. We share our highs and lows of our day and we sit around and just talk…in person… which is really nice.
As I sit here and write this letter to you I realize that I have not missed my cell phone, iPod or video games. And come to think of it, I am actually writing with a pencil on paper and not tapping away at a keyboard to communicate with you. I might not have been eager to come, but I am so glad that you gave me the opportunity to go away to summer camp for a while so that I could just “unplug” and focus on having fun.
I cannot wait to tell all my friends about how awesome summer camp is and how it’s really not that bad getting away from the technology for a while.
Come to think of it Mom and Dad, I suggest that maybe you all try to “unplug” for a while; it’s very rejuvenating. I can show you how when I get home.
Gotta run, I’m wanted on the water trampoline.