Christa LauriJul 20, 2017, 6:59 pmJul 21, 2017, 7:53 am

Armonk camp bans phones so kids can focus on developing communication skills

Children at Breezemont Day Camp says the rule keeps them dedicated to activities instead of social media

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According to the Summer Camp Association, summer camps can teach children certain skills that are not learned in school. And to help kids work on face-face communication, social interaction and confidence, many camps in our area are banning cell phones and personal devices.

When campers start their day at Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk, cell phones are collected and are only returned at the end of each "device-free" day.

“You used to be able to have your phone in your bag, now you have to hand it in, I think it’s nicer because you can interact with your friends more and your counselors," said Elizabeth, a 12-year-old camper.

Jason Milde, a teacher and head counselor of the older campers, runs group sessions with them on the value of unplugging.

“We decided we wanted to provide a technology free environment,” Milde said.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, today's children spend more than 7.5 hours a day engaged in media. That excessive use of media prevents children from taking part in hands on activities and socializing with others.

Breezemont’s philosophy for all age groups is that today's children need the camp environment more than ever to have true face-to-face conversations to communicate. They encourage kids to be in the moment and not glued to screens.

"A child can just be a child. They can communicate and laugh and have fun. Camp is an extension of school and education but it’s an education through play," Breezemont Camp Owner Gordon Josey said.

This is the first full summer the policy has been in effect and the kids say while it’s been an adjustment, they don't miss their devices.

"You do adjust to not having your phone. Sometimes you might want to take a pic but that’s what photographers are for and you don't need your phone. I really don't miss it," 11-year-old Bedford native Samantha said.

The majority of summer camps ban most technology, including TV, smart phones, iPads, and computers, allowing children to focus on learning new skills and taking part in social interactions.

The American camp association research has found that 92 percent of campers said that camp helped them feel good about themselves and 70 percent of parents reported that their child gained self-confidence while at camp.

12-year-old Michelle says she feels relief sometimes after turning in her phone for the day, feeling more focused on the activity at hand while not having to worry about checking Instagram likes on a post.

“I think it’s better, we're more on time for activities not caring about who liked our Instagram posts. We're not really aware of that," Samantha said.

Instead, kids get to become more aware of new experiences and friendships while boosting their ability to mountain interpersonal relationships.

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