We are the first to admit it; we love technology. We embrace it and we feel it can, when used properly, be a wonderful way for people to connect and/or reconnect. But like many tools in today’s world, they can become abused and instead of us using these things to lead our lives positively, we succumb to letting technology pave the way. The convenience of staying connected has become a stress-induced burden on our youth. We keep saying yes, answering every tweet, email, ringtone and text. We’re checking out what our friends posted on Instagram, but what is the danger here? It’s obvious to us adults but unfortunately not to our children. It’s the inability to focus on what is important and absolutely fundamental to the life you would like to live.
When a smartphone interrupts a family dinner, what real connection is lost? Ironically, we are being seduced by distraction. We are being pulled away from what truly matters. Our attention spans are spent by days end, while there is no time for quiet contemplation. No time to daydream or to acknowledge that silence at the dinner table is OK.
Let’s face it; we get an emotional rush from checking our Facebook and Instagram. But, like anything, when is too much not a good thing? An obsession to be ‘online’ can lead to depression and eating disorders, and can also contribute to increased inactivity and mindlessness. Our job as parents is to educate our children that they can exist without technology and that email or screen apnea is actually a disease. Even us, as directors, need to be reminded of these facts.
Being always “on” may look good for business but it’s a killer, ruining relationships and causing long-term stress. Maybe it’s an ego thing that we think we need to check our email before bed or maybe it’s simply an addiction. Mindfulness training, a very hot topic in 2015, is the antithesis of our technology laden society where we function almost unconsciously by habit with an inability to appreciate the people we are with and the moment in time. It is encouraging seeing that this mindfulness training is beginning to take hold and becoming increasingly more mainstream.
Our goal at camp is to teach children to be mindful; to connect, agree or disagree and to communicate in person. Children count down the days to the start of camp because they truly value this personal connection that we offer, whether it be consciously or unconsciously. Learning to strike a balance, be patient, cooperate, give in, lead, and be kind through verbal or nonverbal live communication is one of the greatest gifts of a camp experience.
So while we teach your children how to properly build relationships, we think this is a great time to think about how we connect with our children and pave the path to role model the healthiest way for them to build relationships. How many times as a parent have we gone on a walk with our children, taken them to watch a hockey game, purchased their favorite toy or first bike, but continued to check our phone.
We have the opportunity to message something very different and quite powerful; I am not going to look at my phone while I am with you because you are what is most important to me.
So while your kids are at camp, remember that your children will be embraced in a counterculture of the best kind. Instead of materialism, teasing, competition, technology and the need for instant gratification, your child will be able to connect with their inner sprit, spontaneity, and humor. No selfie’s or “get together, let’s take a picture.” Your children will talk about a newfound freedom of breaking away from checking Instagram and replace that with a newfound friendship as a result.
Why don’t we all try to remember that when our entire digital world is saying check in, check me out; How relaxing and liberating would it be to actually be fully present with our friends and family and live in the moment. We can assure you this will happen for your child all summer long with both their peers and their mentors because that is the essence of Manitou
We would once again like to thank you for the privilege of being able to take care of your child this summer.
Mark Diamond & Jeff Wilson, Camp Directors/Owners