On average, kids spend 3.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents each week. (www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html)
Kids age 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media. (www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/problem.html)
Children play outside an average of four minutes a day. (www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/8010.pdf)
When was the last time you went for a day without your cell phone? Probably not recently.
Truth be told, most of us are addicted to our phones.
“Well, it’s my camera.”
“I don’t have a laptop, I just use my phone.”
“I’m not addicted, I just can’t go 2 minutes without touching it.”
Phones are a huge part of our culture, lifestyle and the way we “do business” in 21st century America.
Coming to camp, for most, means setting the phone down for the greater part of a week. No texts to answer, no tweets to read, no facebook newsfeed to keep up with. For most, it is surprisingly refreshing to realize that the pressure has been lifted for a few days. Kids are able to relax, unwind and breathe. Staff are able to connect with other staff members and build friendships, relationships and memories.
We all know that when the end of the camp week comes, the notifications, emails and messages will be there. But what we also realize, is that the world as NOT come to an end and that we actually enjoyed life outside of our phones.
I realize that phones these days, are much more than phones. They are our alarm clocks, our shopping list, our workout schedule, our camera, our email, the list goes on and on. In this world of fast paced technology, camp gives kids something they can’t get in the outside world. It’s an experience of real conversations, face to face discussions, and emotions that can be viewed in the eyes of another person and not in an emoticon.
Camp is a place where sitting and not speaking can be all the conversation that is needed. Campers are able to be outside, look up and around them and see God’s Art Gallery. Camp is a place where 30 minutes of Solo Quet Time actually happens and new sounds are able to be heard.
Psalm 19:1 – 3
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
We look and see the tall trees, the glistening river, the sparkling water of the pool, the eagle as it flies overhead and the chirping of the birds as they wake us up early in the morning.
Colossians 1:16 – For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth…
“Everthing is better at camp.”
At camp, we are in a constant conversation with those around us. Morning brings us the cheerful voices of others who are just as excited to be alive, living life at camp. We work together to accomplish the goal of even cleaning our cabin, when just a few days prior, picking up a few items off our bedroom floor seemed like it would be the end of us. But … we are at camp!
At camp, conversations are deeper, memories are more vivid, friendships are kindled quicker and relationships sealed with the timeless cement of summer camp.
Without a phone in our hands or back pocket, we are free to talk, laugh and play without the interruption of a text to answer. The tyranny of the urgent has vanished for a blissful moment.
But we are also able to listen.
We can listen to the voice of God through his Creation, through the camp counselor or speaker, through the reading of His Word & through the interaction with His people.
Even those staff members that must carry a phone at camp are encouraged to do it discreetly, so that the sacred environment of camp is kept intact.
Most of us can’t live at camp, and for those that do, camp life is much different when campers go home. How do we return to our “regular life” changed and impacted, but still able to interact and be effective where God has placed us?
We can begin by recognizing that we need to control this little black box called the cell phone, and not let it control us. We can put it down, turn it off and experience a little bit of “camp life” at home with our families, in our conversations at work or over a meal with a friend. You did it while at camp, and it can be done outside of camp.
Begin by putting the cell phone down … for a time each day and look up, around and outside at God’s Art Gallery that is shouting for us to praise Him! Turn the phone off and listen to the voices around you, the little people in your life, or maybe the voice of a parent that just wants to hear about your day. When a text comes during church or a coffee date with a friend, choose not to answer it and stay focused on the words that are being spoken.
It can be done. Because you did it at camp. That’s the power of camp.
Kimberly Mallory – Camp Gilead Program Director
Actual Camp Gilead Staff Members Speak Out
“Because I got used to not having my phone on me, to not being at others’ beck and call 24/7, I am now less inclined to treat my phone as an extension of my arm, or an extra appendage. Camp encouraged me to focus on the relationships I have right in front of be rather than on the other end of a handheld screen” – Katie P.
“Honestly, not having a phone didn’t affect me negatively. It was actually refreshing to get away from life, and when I did get my phone, I just didn’t care as much. It’s fun how much you think you need your phone, but then you don’t have it, and it’s really nice!” – Jessica H.