Welcome to Aloha Beach Camp!

Thank you for visiting Aloha Beach Camp's summer camp blog. Aloha Beach Camp is an aquatic-focused day camp program for kids and teens ages 4 to 14 in Los Angeles, California. 2017 Summer Camp activities include surfing lessons, boogie boarding, ocean swimming lessons, tubing, jet skiing and more at Zuma Beach and Paradise Cove in Malibu, and Castaic Lake in Valencia (just outside L.A.) plus other amazing aquatic venues. Join us for summer camp 2017!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Can I Bring My Cell Phone to Summer Camp? Sure, Why Not?

 Cell Phones at Summer Camp? By All Means, YES!!!

 
Kids are more than welcome to bring their cell phones and other mobile devices to Aloha Beach Camp. Seriously, feel free.

But first, let me explain. 

I want to make sure you understand we're HUGE proponents of the camp experience and all that goes with it: kids spending time outdoors doing worthwhile activities, making new friends, learning new skills -- all of it. By extension, we feel allowing campers to bring their cell phones to camp may actually ENHANCE kids' experiences with us as we help them discover a healthy balance of time spent using their mobile devices while participating in organized camp activities too.

Let's face it, cell phones are real life. Every kid has one, and trying to prevent them from bringing them to camp (at least in a day camp setting) is unrealistic. Kids have grown up with their cell phones and they're very personally attached to them. A child's cell phone has become part of him or her -- a security blanket of sorts -- and given how ubiquitous cell phones are these days, banning them would be forcing kids to "return to a time" they've never even seen before. That doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do or place to be.

The fact of the matter is Aloha Beach Camp is simply not in the business of taking things away from kids. We're in the business of helping them have the best time of their lives. And if a bringing their cell phone to camp helps a child feel more comfortable or enjoy camp even more while simultaneously teaching them how to balance the time they spend on their phones with meeting new friends and participating in camp activities, it's a huge win for all concerned. 

Few Other Camps Agree With Us

We recognize our policy of allowing kids to bring cell phones to camps is contrary to how many other camps and camp directors feel. The majority of camp folks I know are against allowing cell phones for various reasons. Two common ones are:

  1. Allowing kids to bring cell phones to camp will interfere with the camp experience by preventing campers from making new friends and/or participating in camp activities because they'll be too tempted to play games on their phones, text friends back home, or otherwise immerse themselves in their phones rather than "unplugging" and interacting socially with other kids at camp; and 
  2. Allowing kids to bring cell phones to camp undermines the trust parents have placed in the camp to care for their kids; the cell phone becomes a "security blanket" for the camper who knows he or she can contact his/her parents if they're homesick, aren't having fun, or for any other reason whenever they see fit.
Regarding the first point, we agree 100% with the notion one of the best things about camp is it provides an opportunity for kids to make new friends, try new things, become independent...all that. But make no mistake: By no means will allowing cell phones at Aloha Beach Camp prevent kids from interacting with other campers or limit their participation in camp activities. That's an unfounded concern because kids can do both.

There's no reason a camper shouldn't be able to pick up his cell phone for a few minutes at lunchtime or after an hour-long surfing session to let Mom know how much fun he's having at camp. Or how about texting Mom a picture of the tasty wave the camper just caught boogie boarding!!! :)

The fact is, if a given camp's activities are fun enough (we believe ours are), and its counselors skilled enough (we believe ours are) at engaging the kids, then the kids simply won't WANT to miss out on camp activities even if they have their cell phones with them.

Now regarding the second notion -- that camps should ban cell phones to prevent campers from calling or texting their parents if they're unhappy or not having fun at camp, well, that's also an empty concern if you ask us.  

We say Aloha Beach Camp is the most fun a child will ever have at camp and offer a 100% money back-guarantee to prove it. If your child is unhappy for any reason, just say the word and we'll refund all your money, no questions asked. A child expressing his or her displeasure on their cell phone has nothing to do with it  because if they're displeased, they'll tell you anyway... 

But please don't get us wrong. We've been running our camp a long time and certainly realize the first several hours (or even days) of camp can often be periods of adjustment. Homesickness may manifest itself the most during this time.  

And of course, kids respond in different ways. Some handle new environments just fine while others take longer to warm up. In any case, with their phones nearby, it could be pretty easy for a camper to call home to say they aren't having fun at camp. We'll do our best to prevent this from happening, but even if it does, we simply ask that you don't jump to conclusions. Instead, we hope your first response will be to give us a little time to fix any problems. We are confident we can help your camper get through whatever may be bothering them, and that they'll be having a blast at camp in no time flat. Our #1 job is to create "Happy Campers!" 

Hypocrisy?

Here's something to think about: Most camps (whether or not they allow cell phones) rely HEAVILY on technology (including cell phones) to them help run their camps better AND as marketing tools to attract more kids to their camps. I'm sure most camp directors would attest that it would not be easy (or even possible) for them to operate without the benefit of modern communications and technology, mobile devices included.

For instance, Aloha Beach Camp relies (as do many other camps) on text messaging to communicate with our camp counselors and customer families during the summertime (and all year round, for that matter). The use of text messaging allows us to be more efficient from marketing, operational, and customer service  standpoints and in other ways.

Here's and example of how we are currently using text message marketing with cell phones at Aloha Beach Camp (and how we might need to use it in the future):

  • If the camp bus is running late, we text everyone to let them know 
  • If there's a last-minute activity, scheduling, or program location change, we text everyone to let them know 
  • If we're offering a special discount on camp tuition, we'll text you to let you know. 
  • If god-forbid there was an emergency at camp, we'd text everyone to let them know. (Knocking on wood here...)
With reference to marketing, we've invested lots of time and money into optimizing our camp's website so it works properly on customers' mobile phones. Further, we actively share photos and videos of our camp on social media sites such as Instagram which, as you may know, is among the most popular social media site for camp-age kids because it's meant to be used exclusively on mobile devices. In fact we have acquired many new campers because they found out about our camp on Instagram in the first place. And you'd probably be surprised how many other camps use Instagram (and by extension, their cell phones) as marketing tools.

And so we think it'd be pretty hypocritical of us (or any camp) to continue using our cell phones and other mobile devices as tools to attract new campers, then ban such devices when the kids arrive at camp. I mean, let's face it: If a kid FOUND OUT about our program on his cell phone, then we suddenly took his phone away...is that not biting the hand that feeds us?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: While Aloha Beach Camp may not actively ENCOURAGE campers to bring cell phones and other electronic devices to camp, we won't discourage it. Campers can bring them if they choose. (It's just something else to squeeze in your backpack with your lunch, water bottle, bathing suit, towel, and whatever else you bring to camp each day. And we know you're carrying your phone with you 24/7 anyway, so finding a place to put it shouldn't be a problem!)

While the concept of having kids come to camp to completely "unplug" from their electronic devices may SOUND nice, it's become an unrealistic, outdated objective (or if it isn't already, it will be soon).

As we mentioned, there's no reason a camper can't enjoy a scheduled camp activity for a while, then at its conclusion check his or her phone for a few seconds, then return to his or her group for more camp fun. We believe this is the kind of balance a child needs in his or her life -- they don't need to be 100% forced into their camp experience at the expense of other things that matter to them, and they don't need to be preoccupied with their mobile devices 100% of the time either.

It really is possible to do both, and at Aloha Beach Camp, they can.

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