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.
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:
- 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
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.
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...)
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
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.