One important topic that influences the lives of billions of people living in this age—with men, women, the young and the old across all nations—is the important topic on digital technology. Can you imagine, twenty years ago, we never thought phones, cameras, the television, and text messaging could now all exist in one small gadget. Interestingly, just when we think technology is at its peak now, the truth is, that there’s still more to come. The children born in this generation is experiencing a totally different world that is far from what we—those who were born before them—had from years ago. This means that their definition of collaboration, communication, entertainment, and networks may be different from ours, and the biggest reason behind this gap is the presence of digital technology in their generation.
Nowadays, a big part of our day is spent looking at our phones, communicating on social media, watching videos from our tablets, and sending emails from our laptops. We can literally just sit on one corner for a few hours and get things done without even talking face-to-face with a person or a colleague. Our kids, too, are experiencing the same. Some of their homework are now sent online, they communicate with their friends using instant messaging, and some do not spend much time enjoying the outdoors anymore—and whether we like it or not, the effects of digital technology is here to stay.
As we move along with our lives in the light of today’s digital technology (and the internet), we come to terms with this essential question: Is digital technology a benefit to raising strong, independent and responsible children, or is it a threat to the social essence of the ‘traditional’?
The influence of digital technology, the internet, and information technology is irreversible—and much as we have swung far from the traditional ways of living, the fact remains that these factors have proven to have made our lives more efficient. As parents, we may worry that our children are no longer spending much time in the outdoors as we did as kids, or play with the other kids in the community, or appreciate the basics. Schools may be, to some extent, providing them this. Still, it’s more beneficial to unplug them from the injunctions of the digital world and introduce to them something as immersive and enriching as joining a summer camp. One of our goals at The Vineyard, for example, is to offer our campers a breather from the virtual reality that’s present in their lives—and to appreciate the fundamentals: nature, friendships, learning, and God.
At The Vineyard, the single most important element to a positive experience is the spiritual focus of our camp. Thousands of children, youth, and adults call this their favorite place on earth because they see this camp not just as a place where they can commune with nature and partake in fun activities, but as a place that makes them feel valued and accepted. All children, regardless of their spiritual conviction, are welcomed and loved at our camp. In today’s way of living where children are glued to the internet—some of them even have to go through cyberbullying and online abuse—a loving, transformative space such as ours at The Vineyard is essential for their growth.
The potential impact of digital technology and the internet to our children’s definition of well-being and happiness is OUR concern, and it is something we as parents should discuss thoroughly. As you know, too much time spent online has been linked to anxiety, child depression, and obesity. Children need to be outdoors, they need physical activity, but since the digital age has shown them a new definition of “childhood”, most of the children in this generation struggle in basic personal, social and survival skills.
The Vineyard is a special place—those that enter our gates become instantly aware that it is a holy haven, a place where children and the youth undergo a distinctive transformation like no other. Waterfalls, springs, streams, valleys, native flowers, and abundant wildlife are instrumental to our campers’ harmony with the basics of life—a world that is far from the virtual reality they are so overwhelmed with today. Our purpose is to teach God’s love and to instill an appreciation of life and faith. In the real world, we know that our children wake up each day to a cyber world that makes them vulnerable, so we as educators and leaders at camps have to work extra hard to leverage the power of camp learning to instill goodness, self-worth, faith, trust and confidence in them.
Camp continues! Registration for summer 2020 is ongoing so reserve your spot now.