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Cell Phone Policies at Summer Camps

While many summer camps are located in relatively remote locations, there are nonetheless very few areas which are completely off the grid these days regarding cell phone service areas. Regardless of coverage, it seems the majority of camps have adopted a “no cell phone” policy of one form or another; providing a distinct set of rules and guidelines which might prohibit campers to possess or use cell phones (as well as other particular personal electronic devices) while at summer camp.

As a parent, it is important to learn about out your camp’s cell phone policy and the rational behind it. Hopefully, the camp director has communicated your camp’s policy – one way or the other – regarding cell phones usage. If not, be sure to check the “what not to bring to camp list” or inquire directly with the camp office … since many camps which have a no cell phone policy will confiscate all mobile devices until the camp session has concluded.

While it might be tempting for a parent to try and circumvent a camp’s no cell phone policy, there are many reasons to observe and respect such rules. For starters, compliance with all camp policies — not simply picking & choosing only those which one likes — provides children with a good example of how to follow rules at camp which have been designed for everyone to get along with one another. Perhaps most importantly, a cell phone represents a tether to one’s parents and may serve as an impediment for a child to learn how to solve problems on their own in what might otherwise be a structured and supportive environment for growth and independence.

Not only are cell phones expensive and can get stolen or lost, but their usage can interfere with and sabotage a child’s overall experience at camp … such that a child may immerse oneself in technology or communications from a far at the expense of getting to know one’s fellow campers and counselors in the immediate here and now. Summer camp offers a great opportunity to learn about and navigate social situations while not being constantly connected to & immersed within a digital/virtual world. A no-electronics policy at camp might actually be one of the very few occasions a child has to take a real hiatus from their prized gadgets and the constant drone of repetitively using the controls of an electronic device. It might actually be a welcome surprise for a child to know they are able to connect with other humans without busily moving their fingers over a screen, or simply being able to enjoy physically turning the pages of a book while reading on a rainy day. In the end, most campers agree it’s well worth it.

For those especially anxious parents who simply want to keep in touch, there is always the old fashioned way to connect via letter writing. At the end of the day, nothing beats a letter from home! Likewise, it can only be helpful to a child in this modern digital age to reinforce the traditional skill of sitting down with a simple piece of paper and pen in hand to communicate one’s thoughts. If immediacy of contact is of importance, many camps offer the ability to email campers at camp. Likewise, some camps will publish photos of campers during camp to their website.

Cell phone policy for staff? Many camps also have restrictions for cell phone usage by camp counselors and staff such that they are only to be used off duty and not in the presence of campers. Likewise, campers are also typically prohibited from making calls or sending text messages on counselor’s cell phones.

While it seem the majority of camps generally prohibit cell phones outright, other personal electronic devices (i.e. iPods, MP3 players, mobile gaming devices, etc.) have a much greater variance of rules from camp to camp. It is important to specifically inquire with the camp office about rules governing any given electronic device your child is considering taking to camp.

In the cases of camps or programs where cell phones are allowed, it is important to understand and respect rules which stipulate when, where, and how often a camper is permitted to use their cell phone.