the Monday Morning Debrief: Phones at Camp

Full length of young men and women holding cellphoneGrowing up going to camps and then leading camps, I often went to Young Life camps where the policy was that all portable devices were collected right before getting to camp so as not to distract you from the camp experience.  It started off with simple gameboys and tape players (Sony Walk-mans the popular choice back then), then moved to cd players and eventually mp3, iPods and iPhones. No matter what it was, it was taken and you would get it back at the end of the weekend.

Well, this past week I went to CIY Move camp in Salisbury, MD where cell phones were not just allowed but encouraged.  CIY wanted you to take pictures and post them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use hashtags to compete in various smartphone games.  They even used smartphones as part of a mixer they did and incorporated it into a lesson. It was really cool to see them use technology in their program but also quite different than my first camp experiences.

I can see the benefit of both of these policies, but I curious to see what you all think.  What is your stance on cell phones and other portables devices at camp?  Is it a good thing or bad thing?  Should the be used and encouraged as students these days have them all the time or should they be taken away as not to distract from the camping experience?  Post a comment below to share your thoughts.

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

2 thoughts on “the Monday Morning Debrief: Phones at Camp

  • August 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Tom, our group was at CIY Move in Holland, MI this year and was faced with this decision: cooperate with CIY's request that kids have the smart phones or stick with the policy I've used for years – ALL technology stays at home. I spoke with my volunteers, with some folks at CIY and in the end decided to have the kids bring them. I have to say, there was good and bad about this. The bad: some of our kids found it virtually impossible to disengage from their phones. The good: the majority of our kids were brought together by photo projects they engaged in and got a kick out of seeing the pictures they shared on the big screen. Their phones became tools of community building rather than the distraction I'd feared they'd be.

    • August 20, 2013 at 7:33 am

      Yeah Andrew, I really struggled with this at first because of a policy I had of no use. But over the week I really saw how they (CIY) used it for community building so my mind changed. I really liked how they used the technology. Thanks for your comment.


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