Parent Hacks: Trade computer screens for screen doors Family / Life

HOW TO PICK A CAMP THAT WILL HELP YOUR CHILD UNPLUG AND RECHARGE

Every summer there are hundreds of day camps, with tens of thousandsof kids participating, across the Greater Toronto Area.

Whether they are attending for one week or eight, each camp will have its own special feel and mandate. Finding one that fits your child is key to a happy camper each day.

Make sure to go through the camp itinerary and talk to your child about what he or she might expect during the course of the day.

Sometimes a half-day camp is more than enough for a younger child and can be a great way to get the child introduced to new activities or hobbies.

Day camp can also be a great way to get the kids ahead in a level of swimming, sailing or other summertime sport or activity that can be hard to fit in during busy summer weekends or after work.

One of the great benefits of sending your children to day camp is to get them to trade their indoor screens (smartphones, tablets, video games, television, laptops, etc.) for the slamming of a screen door as they get outside, get active and get offline.

Most camps will have technology rules in place. If part of the reason you want to get the kids out to camp is to get them offline, check with the camp first, but don’t be hesitant to instill your own tech-free summer rules as well.

Kids rarely need a phone during the camp day. On the rare occasion they need to contact you, camp offices are pretty accommodating.

In fact, it’s a big benefit to parents, and the camp, if there isn’t a constant interruption of messages and requests flying back and forth.

For those kids who may be hesitant to go to camp, it could spell disaster, giving them access to a device that allows them to send pleading texts or emails to Mom and Dad asking for an early pick up.

As well, many camps naturally include sports, swimming being a major one, and the risk of having an electronic device ruined while moving between activities (or stolen, unfortunately) can be high. Is it really worth it?

And please, if you’re sending a child to a camp where phones are forbidden, don’t try to have your child sneak one in, in a knapsack or concealed somewhere.

You’re teaching them that rules don’t matter. Send them to a different camp if you really feel the need to be in constant contact.

But what happens at the end of the camp day?

If the kids have felt totally cast adrift without being able to Snapchat their bestie or catch up on their YouTube videos, won’t they then just sit on their devices all evening? Well, they will if you let them.

Summer is always a good time to let some rules go (bedtime, sleeping in, etc.), but it can also be a good time to start some new ones.

Consider restricting the kids to an hour of “catch up” time once they get home from camp and want to make any plans with friends that evening, but then have them put their devices in a summer storage silo and encourage them to get back outdoors or pull out a favourite family board game.

Summer rules can apply for moms and dads too.

Try to get some summery feeling into your days, even if you’re still at work from nine to five, by reconnecting with the kids after dinner, instead of with your phone.


Kathy Buckworth is a writer, personality and host who lives in Toronto, Canada. She is a major press contributor, the author of 6 books, and is an international travel writer.

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