One of the truly unique and wonderful elements of Maine Camp Experience camps is that they allow children to step into a different world for the summer. For up to two months, bedrooms become bunks and pavement surrenders to dirt or gravel pathways as the cities or suburbs melt away to be replaced by the stunning natural beauty Maine has to offer. However, perhaps the most vitally rustic part of the camp experience lies in the fact that, from the moment they step onto campus, children are forced to step away from their electronics, and cell towers ultimately give way to towering pines.
Today, more than ever, children are raised on a steady diet of screens and cellphones, and a child’s attention span can be measured by the battery life signaled in the upper right hand corner of whatever device happens to have grabbed their attention. However, while there is certainly a convenience to the fact that a child’s captivation is now so readily attainable, there is also a downside to the prevalence of electronics: distraction and partial attention have come to dominate the minds of those who are constantly exposed to the frenetic, sensory stimulations of the screen.
While this certainly has repercussions for older students and adults in the workforce, perhaps the most troubling implication is for those children growing up today who have never experienced life without electronics. Unfortunately, as is stated in this recently published article, there is a high correlation between exposure to electronics and distractibility, as well as an inability to prioritize or focus on a single task. What this means is that children who have never been divorced from electronics for any substantial period of time are limited in their ability to build the cognitive momentum needed to learn a new skill or accomplish a new task.
That is, until they attend camp. Most, if not all of the Maine Camp Experience camps have strict electronic policies. These policies vary – while some may allow a camper to bring an old-fashioned iPod to listen to music, others prohibit the use of all electronics, and some don’t have any electricity in the bunk. However, a common theme among these camps is the fact that a camper will not be spending time surfing the web and otherwise alienating themselves within the digital sphere.
And while this screen-time sabbatical has its own intrinsic value, and can even offer psychological and medical benefits, when taken in conjunction with the top-notch programming offered at Maine Camp Experience camps there is an opportunity for campers to develop skills in a way that is unparalleled during the school year. Suddenly, a child is learning, for example, to waterski, and they are building momentum and focus in a way that is simply impossible if their attention is constantly being demanded by high-resolution hindrances to focus. This time away is compounded over the course of the summer, and this enables children to build on the skills they are learning on a day-to-day basis, allowing them to achieve a level of ability that is augmented by the environment in which they are learning.
Furthermore, because campers do not have access to electronics they are forced to interact socially in a way that is both healthy for development and increasingly rare among children today. Disputes must be resolved verbally, and in person, and emotions supplant emoticons. Hanging out at camp does not consist of huddling around a screen. Instead, children create meaningful, social relationships that can stand the test of time (or the test of a faulty powerline). Life slows down at camp, and campers can learn to appreciate interactions that might not occur at hyper-speed, or might not offer instant gratification. When I was a thirteen year old camper, I spent every rest hour over the course of several weeks playing a single game of Risk with a few friends. The simple fact that we were willing to play a multi-hours long game, (I have yet to finish a game since), taking inventory of the board after each completed session so we could start again the next day, is a testament to a patience that is unique to camp, and unique to a world free of electronics.
There are many reasons to choose a Maine Camp Experience camp, and I am confident that almost every child can benefit from the incredible opportunities that these environments have to offer for a variety of different reasons. However, I truly believe that the fact that campers are forced to unplug, and in the process are allowed to recapture the essence of their childhood, is one of the defining elements of a MCE summer. It is truly amazing how quickly campers go from unplugged to unstoppable, and how powering down can provide such a quick route to personal empowerment.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Campcierge™ to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.