Choosing a Summer Camp

Over the last fifteen years, I have watched many families, students and campers trying to decide which camp or school to attend.  This process clearly has had its challenges in the last number of years. Can it be that the IPhone era has plagued today’s society?

Let me explain what I mean. Think back just ten years ago. There was a method to choosing a school. Many of the significant components were Hashkafa, values, teachers, quality in education, Ivrit B’Ivrit, friends and programs. Let’s not forget that after deciding on a school, the child would remain there unless a serious issue arose.

Choose your Summer Camp

Look also how people would choose a camp for this child — and for the many exciting years that would follow (although I believe that schools are not much different in this process). I use the words “many exciting years” because there is a reason why you are choosing this particular camp – you want this camp to be THE camp for your family for many year, to become part of your family – and not be looking for another camp every year. You feel connected to this camp – it meets your standards in so many ways. Some of these key factors are Hashkafa, the experience of the Camp Directors and Head Counselors, the individualized program for each child, supervision, safety, an exciting program and most importantly the training of all staff.  (Unfortunately, there are some families who don’t use these standards but are influenced by hype, discounts – other institutions may offer a similar package if asked – which camp will allow cell phones and so many other distractions.)

Over the last few years it has become acceptable, and almost the norm, to change schools and camps every few years. For some families, it’s year after year. I recently spoke to a student who spent his four years of high school in four different schools; there was no major issue that occurred that resulted in the family and schools needing to part ways. It was just what they did.

And, when it comes to camp, similar patterns are taking place year after year. It’s not uncommon for campers to try multiple camps throughout their camping years.

What has changed in our society? The iPhone concept has changed our society.  Think back to the times when we listened to an entire cassette in the car, enjoying the whole album. A short time later, the more luxurious cars were able to fast forward to a specific a song and you had to wait about ten seconds. In recent years, when was the last time someone listened to an entire album on the iPhone? Watch how the younger generation uses their iPhonea. They are constantly “flipping”. Flip to the next song, flip to the next game and flip to a new app. Our children’s generation has been trained to flip to the next thing after a few seconds. Bored or bothered by something? Flip to the next song or activity; don’t allow the song or game to play out further to see if it is something you might enjoy after awhile.

This has impacted our youth in many ways, especially when it comes to conflict resolution. For example a student may not like the way a teacher handled a situation in school. As a result the student wants to change classes to another teacher that s/he thinks maybe so much better. Ultimately, this method of “coping” translates into constantly changing schools and camps. In a society of iPhones the “flipping” method is so much easier then dealing with the situation by problem solving. As parents it has become easier to have the child change his environment then spend the time with conflict resolution. We must deal with this reality and work on these issues. This is not the sole cause of constant change but certainly plays a key role when a child is not receiving immediate satisfaction. Conflict resolution and not always having instant gratification are things that need to be taught at school and home. Children will need these skills to maintain their jobs in the future.

We must choose a camp or school because we believe in it. Not because it’s easier then dealing with a conflict that can be rectified by change.

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