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  • Writer's pictureStephen Bean

Disconnect in Order To Connect (Cell Phone Policy Discussion)

A common question we hear time and time again by both campers and parents alike is what our cellphone/technology policy is at camp. Our policy is not as black and white as many other camps, we believe a happy balance is important. So what is our cellphone technology policy?

We pride ourselves on building and fostering a sense of community and belonging at Camp New Heights. So we see it as essential to build and strengthen bonds between campers, roommates, suitemates, and staff. Each camper begins camp by turning in their cell phone on Sunday. Fear not, this is not the last time a camper sees their cell phone. For the first week a camper will be without their cell phone. Following the first week, campers will get their phones every Sunday after SAT prep (approximately 4:30pm) and Wednesday following food journals (approximately 7:45 pm). Once receiving their cell phones, campers will have them in their possession from the above stated time until 7:00am the next morning. This allows for plenty of time to reach out to their parents, friends back home, and the world as a whole. We want campers to share their experience and how much fun their having with their family and friends.

So why do we limit at all? As previously mentioned, we're hyper-focused on building and fostering a strong community bond with our campers. The first week campers are at camp there is some fear involved especially for those campers that are away from home for the first time. Campers who have their phones are way more likely to feel homesick or feel like they are missing out on something at home. In order to build our community and have every camper be present in the moment, we need everybody present both mentally and physically. After that first week, campers have made friendships, connections, and bonds with those around them. It is at this point that we have little to no fear of homesickness because we see it when our campers get their phones back.

When campers first get their phones back it becomes a barrage of consuming as much content as they possibly can in that moment. What's astonishing is how quickly we see this fade. In about 15-20 minutes campers go from being enamored with their phones to hanging out with their camp peers as though it were any other night of the week. We take great pride in watching how the relationships we have fostered have blossomed into something so powerful that they overcome the overbearing nature of phones, social media, etc...

We arrived at our cell phone/technology policy after reading about a study performed at UCLA. The study can be found here: In our digital world, are young people losing the ability to read emotions? In this study it is shown that the kids who attended a camp with a restricted phone policy became better able to read and comprehend facial expressions.

So yes, we are trying to give you the skills and tools to live a healthy and active lifestyle, but our pursuits don't end there. We want to provide kids with an experience that helps them grow in all aspects. Our limited tech policy pushes campers to interact with one another and learn about social communication on a level that they may have never experienced. The ability to read their peers, understand non-verbal communication, and interact without the aid of tech is crucially important to the maturation process of any person.

We're not trying to torture anybody by taking away their cell phone. We're merely trying to build stronger bonds, teach social skills, and make the camp experience deeper and more impactful. Fear not though, you will certainly be able to reach out once you pass that first week of camp.

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