The Camp Community

We live in a time of constant exposure to news coverage. We receive news headlines through the television, smartphones, computers, and a variety of social media sites. Thankfully some of it is positive and uplifting, but sadly the majority we are exposed to is rolling media coverage of unfolding violence and devastation. We can try to limit the constant exposure to negative news by shutting off the TV, but with news alerts going directly to our smartphones and social media sites, it’s challenging to tune out. It can be especially difficult for kids and teenagers to take a breather from breaking news stories, since their worlds tend to revolve around being plugged in and online.

Studies show that threatening or upsetting news can affect people emotionally. Negative news can change a person’s mood and increase worry. According to some psychologists, exposure to negative and violent media may have long lasting psychological effects like stress, anxiety and depression. But as much as we may want too, it’s not realistic to think we can shield our children from world events and news. We may not be able to get them to put down the phone or turn off the computer but we can be there to help them make sense of it, ask questions, provide support and comfort, and have an open discussion about their concerns. Events that happen in their world can also be used as teaching moments, leading to productive discussions that motivate them to act and lend a helping hand.

Taking a breather from media coverage can be difficult, but it is possible for kids who attend overnight summer camp. The camp setting removes the barrage of constant breaking news coverage and allows kids to enjoy the summer in a safe and dependable environment. When kids board the bus for summer camp, they leave their smartphones, the internet and social media behind. They are given the opportunity to disconnect from reported news and create their own camp stories and memories. Camp allows kids to focus on having fun, developing friendships, building self-confidence, finding independence, learning new skills and discovering new interests. It’s not about shielding them from what is happening in the world around them, but rather giving them a breather from it all.

Extraordinary events, camp trivia, fun facts, and the wonderful people in the camp community become the topics of news that is reported in the Iroquois Springs Summer Times. The camp paper, along with announcements made at morning and evening line up are the stories we tune in to at camp. Camp may be a “bubble” that protects us for 6 weeks during the summer, but it’s a welcoming time, especially in the current world environment. The skills developed at camp also help campers better cope with any troubling times that may occur in their everyday life. A camp experience teaches campers to live in a community of kindness, empathy and friendship. All valuable skills to help make the challenging times a little easier to cope with.

We can’t shelter our children from adversity, and the news will continue to be covered, but we can listen, be honest, and provide reassurance. As tough as it can be to accept, harsh news can prompt discussions, help kids manage their feelings, and develop valuable coping skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers).