Interpersonal Relationships & Communications
There is simply no place in the world like summer camp. A typical day at camp involves endless moments of fun, activities, events, spirit, and most importantly face-to-face interaction and communication. Campers sit together during meal times, swim and splash around with friends in the pool and lake, learn teamwork on the sports fields, develop life skills living with bunkmates, problem solve and build confidence at Outdoor Adventure, and create a sense of belonging with friends around the camp fire. Camp is filled with these moments, bringing campers together to experience great fun, exciting challenges, and the true meaning of friendship. Camp gives kids the opportunity to develop these healthy friendships in an unplugged environment! A place where kids can experience the true meaning of community, at a time when face-to-face communication is needed more than ever.
Technology has revolutionized how we communicate. Researchers are finding that while the frequency of communication with friends and family is going up, the quality of that communication is getting worse. We are living in a time where we prefer catching up through emails, texts and social media, instead of making a phone call or getting together in person. Though easy and convenient, we are missing out on so much when we communicate digitally. The feelings behind the words or emojis can often be misinterpreted. Researchers have also found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles someone’s risk of having depression. Social media may give us a feeling of connection to others, but misses out on developing genuine interpersonal relationships.
That is why a sleepaway summer camp experience has never been more important. Summer camp gives kids the opportunity to practice and improve social skills in a natural unplugged environment. Campers build relationships based on communication and connection. Face-to-face communication allows campers to learn non-verbal cues like body language, facial expressions, tone, feelings, and reactions, that are missing in today’s digital world. Body language and facial expressions are an important part of conversation and often communicate more than words can ever say.
When we remove digital technology, we open up a camper’s world to improved communication and social interaction. Face-to-face interactions at camp set the foundation for trust and belonging. Campers develop a greater sense of empathy and learn to rely on one another as they step outside of their comfort zone. Campers are not posting their experiences, but are living them in the moment, surrounded by friends and the camp community. Unplugging may seem impossible for young people of this generation, but for most campers it’s an easy transition. Taking a break from the constant distractions of group chats, snapchats, posts, and video games, is both appreciated and welcome. A break from screen time helps reduce stress and anxiety and increases feelings of belonging. With eyes off the screens, campers can take in the beauty of their surroundings, slow down, and enjoy living in the moment, interacting with friends in real time.
And they do! Campers make the most of their camp experience having fun, gaining confidence and independence, and building strong connections that could never be replaced by online communication. They make the most of their unplugged summer at camp, and once camp is over, they hopefully find the right balance between online communications and personal interactions to help them create stronger relationships and an overall feeling of well-being all year long.