YMCA Camp Kitaki

Technology: Time and Energy

Technology: Time and Energy

This time of year we are in planning mode.  We hire staff, order supplies, and plan for our summer camp program.  In doing so, we always spend time reviewing our policies and procedures just to make sure that what we have been doing is the right thing for us moving forward.  One of those policies regards the use of phones and technology at camp.  Now it may come as no surprise, but this topic is always a hot one on the camp director message boards (Yes there are camp director message boards. Yes I am a part of them.).  It seems like every week there are posts from camps that are struggling with their policy, on communicating that with parents, with kids that sneak the technology in (sometimes with permission from parents) and on and on and on.  There are even some camps who *gasp* ALLOW kids to have phones (and folks who will say HOW DARE YOU!).

Much like every adult you have ever met, all of us Camp Directors have an opinion about technology, what it’s doing to our kids and our society, and what we should do about it.  Recently, I was discussing with a diverse group of camp directors from all over the country and Canada, an article about the needs of our new generation of staff members.  The article of course mentioned technology.  In response to the article my friend Luke LaRocque who runs Beacon Bible Camp in the Muskoka area of Ontario, Canada said this:

"I don’t care that much about technology. I *do* care about who is controlling my time, energy and money with that technology. That’s why I don’t love tech at my camp: it keeps my campers (and staff) out of a world largely controlled by marketers and influencers who tell them to be something that they’re not." - Luke LaRocque, Executive Director, Beacon Bible Camp

I love that view of things.  The world is full of influences that try to control your time, energy and money.  It’s been a while since I have heard something that made me think differently about Camp Kitaki’s stance on screens.  Not really the outcome of our stance (they still won’t be allowed), but the “why” behind it.  At Camp Kitaki we spend so much time and energy (and yes, money) on creating an environment that helps support kids in their journey of learning who they are, and being confident in expressing that to the world.  The power of camp has, in many ways, always been in the act of stepping away from your every day.  Getting away from the school you go to, the family you live with, the friends you see, the urban environment, camp is about experiencing something different, independently. Technology is now part of our everyday, and it is uniquely capable of bringing along the time and energy controlling things from home (and elsewhere), potentially to the detriment of that camper’s ability to grow independently at camp.  To me, that’s not a compromise I am willing to make.  

Technology is amazing, and it will continue to grow and expand in the ways we use it throughout our lives.  I can’t ever say what the future will be for Kitaki with 100% certainty.  There may be a time when technology is a part of the camp experience in ways that it isn’t now.  However, I CAN say that our priority in decision making is always going to be based on helping kids live confidently in who they are.  Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that means no screens.  

Jason Smith

Executive Director

You and Me Parent Child Weekend:  New!  Spend quality time with your child!  Child age 6-12.

Women's Wellness Weekend

Campout Programs:  Cabin Fever, Masterpiece Arts Weekend, and March Madness are all coming up!