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Should You Email Your Kids While They're Away at Camp?

Kids at Camp Long, 1954

The Orlando Sentinel ran an article last week about Bunk1.com, a website that allows parents to email their kids daily while they’re away at summer camp.  Camps sign up for the online service, and staff members add “daily online updates and photo galleries to keep parents up to date with what their little ones are doing away from home.” 

One Dad interviewed about the service said, “I probably clicked on the pictures like 50 times during the day,” and his daughter said she wished she was allowed to email back to the messages her Dad had been sending.

Isn’t the whole point of sending your kid to camp to help them gain independence and to give parents a much-needed break?  When did we all get so clingy – and is it time to cut the cord?

The Sentinel reports that as parents become more reliant on technology, they “expect some type of online connection to their children at camp.”  They say that even day camps such as The Roth Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando are sharing their activities via Facebook and Twitter.  I know!  Why not put cameras all over the camp – in the middle of the woods – so that parents can watch 24/7 live-streaming video of their children?  (Didn’t they make a movie about that called The Blair Witch Project?)  Better yet, how about a camp that allows parents to come along?  That way, the whole family can Skype grandma and grandpa from the pool!  Oh wait, I think a program like that already exists.  I believe it’s called Camp Hyatt.

Look, I get it.  I’m guilty of calling my daughter when she’s with her Dad just to see what she had for dinner.  This is less about emailing kids at camp in particular and more about the fact that we don’t know how to unplug anymore.  I just came back from a delightful weekend in Ft. Lauderdale at a friend’s wedding, and I didn’t take a single picture or write one status update or tweet.  It felt great.  I wonder if we’re not doing our kids a disservice by never giving them space away from us to grow, whether they’re at day camp for pre-schoolers or off in college.  I also think we’re doing ourselves a disservice by not allowing ourselves to recharge away from our kids, so that we have a chance to truly miss them.  Imagine how anti-climactic it is for a kid to say, “Mommy, Daddy, guess what I did at camp!,” only to hear, “We know, sweetie.  We saw it on Facebook.”

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr

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