What I Learned at Director’s Camp
Hi Nicolet Family!
Last weekend, Jer and I had the pleasure of attending Last weekend, Jer and I had the pleasure of attending Director’s Camp 2016 in Cape Cod. in Cape Cod. We stayed in cabins with 25 other summer camp professionals, ate meals in the dining hall, and chatted around the campfire at night. We had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry and, because most of the content was participant driven, we were able to have discussions about things that it sometimes seems only other summer camp pros can really understand. There were many takeaways from this weekend, including tips for staff management, creative program development, and improved customer service. We were also required to complete a solo experience, centered on thought and reflection. Director’s Camp provided us with many inspirations when looking at the year ahead and Summer 2016.
When thinking about what I experienced that could be shared with our camp family, the part of the weekend that stuck out the most was the no-technology policy that was put in place. Every summer we ask that our campers leave all cell phones and other tech devices at home or check them into the safe upon arrival. Our staff is asked to put them away during the day, but allowed to have them at night after the kiddos have gone to bed. As someone who works in the office and needs regular access to e-mail, the weather channel, and other online resources, I can say that there isn’t a day that I go without near constant tech use while at camp. Being told that I could not check e-mail, update our Facebook page, monitor staff applications, and communicate with the outside world was a bit anxiety-inducing at first. I have to admit, I wasn’t the best at following the rules the first day. Lex was traveling alone from AZ to WI for family weddings so every chance I got, I was checking for her latest text update to make sure things were going well and she made it across the country safely. Who could blame me, right?! I noticed though that I wasn’t the only one making excuses for why I needed access to my phone. It’s our camera so we needed it to take pictures. It’s our watch so we needed it to get up in the morning and get to sessions on time. People had to stay in contact with their significant others because of situations at home. People needed to talk to their children and give them their credit card information for any number of reasons (I’m sure we can all relate to that!). The point being, not many people were really able to disconnect. Not even for the very minimal 50 hours that we were asked to do so. In those first few hours, I was able to truly understand the feeling that most of our campers (and their parents) must have when going through the basic withdrawal symptoms of a tech-free life at camp.
So, what did I learn from this part of the Director’s Camp experience? I learned that the withdrawal only lasts a very short time. I learned that once I disconnected, I was actually able to form better connections with the people around me. I learned to be present and not worry so much about the other demands for my attention. Even taking photos was forgotten because I was living in the moment, rather than trying to record it. I also learned that everything that I was missing would be there waiting for me when I returned to my tech devices in a couple days. I firmly believe that we need to slow down and smell the roses, as the saying goes, and camp provides the perfect opportunity for us to do this. So take advantage of it. I know that it’s difficult to go without constant contact with the most precious people in your lives, but be sure to stress the importance of real, face-to-face connection and tech-free time to your kids. Remind them that being at camp is the chance to live in the moment and be true to themselves that they may not get in the real world. And we’ll do the same.