How to have a conversation with your kids about leaving cellphones at home

It’s more and more common for kids of all ages to own mobile devices. My eight-year-old daughter personally benefited from my last cellphone upgrade, inheriting my old iPhone 6. I figured it was a perfect way for her to familiarize herself with the technology with no impact on my chequing account.

She uses it daily for school-related apps, watching instructional videos about making glitter slime and the odd game. But I monitor her use of it, and have had to have (many) conversations about the importance of putting the phone down and enjoying life in the moment instead of through a screen.

If you plan to send your child to overnight summer camp, you might find yourself having a similar conversation with them. There might be a desire from them to bring along their mobile phone for the week. This could stem from homesickness and wanting a direct line of communication to home, or it could simply be a matter of wanting to have entertainment at their disposal during their time away.

Whatever their reasoning may be, it’s important that you sit down with them and have a meaningful conversation about the importance of putting the screen down. Muskoka Woods believes that summer camp is a transformative experience, giving kids the opportunity to have fun, grow in confidence and leave inspired to shape their world. For some youth, technology can be a barrier to reaching their true potential, discovering the beauty of nature, forming meaningful relationships, and getting the most out of their time at camp.

How to have the conversation

Explain to your child that they will be missing out on incredibly fun and life-changing experiences if they are glued to their mobile phone — both at camp and in daily life. Emphasize the diverse selection of activities that will take up most of their time at camp, as well as the potential to make new and long-lasting friendships.

If they are particularly anxious about a lack of communication from home, talk to them about the email service for guests at Muskoka Woods. While your child is at camp, you and approved family and friends can send one-way emails to keep in touch. Emails will be printed and distributed to your child daily.

Most importantly: If you decide their device will be left at home, assure them that their phone will be kept safe and sound, and fully charged, waiting for their arrival home.

Muskoka Woods strongly recommends that all communication devices stay at home. However, if your family reaches a decision that your child will come to Muskoka Woods with a device, here is the updated cell phone policy.

If you are a parent of a WILD (6-8) or Venture (9-10) guest:

  • Please notify your child’s counsellor upon arrival if you have chosen to send your child to camp with a cell phone. Guests will be able to text/call home after dinner time (5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.) and before evening program to avoid homesickness before bedtime. If you would like to contact your child while they are at camp, please do so during these times.
  • The cell phone will be required to stay in the Yondr pouch, in your child’s luggage, in their cabin during daily activities and evening program.
  • We encourage you to bring a lock for your luggage if you are bringing a phone to camp.

If you are a parent of a Junior High (11-13), Senior High (14-16) or CEO (15-17) guest:

  • Guests will have access to their phones daily after activities end at 5 p.m. until evening program and then again before curfew.
  • The cell phone will be required to stay in the Yondr pouch during daily activities and evening program. We recommend that guests leave it in their luggage, but they may carry it with them.
  • Cell phones will be put back into the Yondr pouches shortly before curfew, which is 10:30 p.m. for Junior High guests and 11 p.m. for Senior High and CEO guests.
  • We encourage you to bring a lock for your luggage if you are bringing a phone to camp.

To learn more, visit the Muskoka Wood cell phone policy page.

 

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