Camp!

0216jcccampkidFor nearly my entire life, I’ve been involved with Jewish camps. I attended them, was a counselor and now direct the JCC’s summer camp program. You could definitely say “I drank the Kool-Aid.” So, you’d think this article would be about my favorite topic, camp. It is not.

I am going to write about a topic we are all familiar with: technology.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens (8-12 years old) log six hours of media time a day, 4 ½ hours for entertainment… seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Teens log in nine hours… every single day.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends a maximum of two hours per day of high-quality media material for children, and no screen time at all for children under two years old.

My intent is not to demonize media, as that certainly would make me a hypocrite. I use various media extensively for many reasons, but specifically to work and connect with family and friends. Remember the days “way back when,” when we had to count the long-distance minutes of phone calls? Today, technology builds bridges and creates efficiencies. Clearly, it is an important part of our lives.

Several decades ago, television was “the” only technology option. It was a distraction. Nowadays our kids have smart phones, tablets, laptops and more. As media multiplies, it is increasingly more important that we construct and provide non-media based learning and social opportunities. As a result, we need to set boundaries.

In one word: we need CAMP.

At camp, children make new friends, test limits and learn that “I can” is more powerful than “I can’t.” They develop self-esteem and gain a sense of independence and community. They play, explore, run, jump and swim. They scream, laugh and sing. They unplug.

They simply unplug. Camp is essentially a technology detox for our kids.

Audra Martin has worked with children in the JCC field for over 18 years, she is the Director of Children and Camp at the Merage JCC. Contact Audra at audram@jccoc.org.

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