An article in the Huffington Post, not to be confused with the Fluffington Post, asks “Have We Added Another Lost Generation?” and suggests all kids need to go to camp “before this generation loses the values that have driven our country since the beginning.”
I have been quite interested in generational shifts, especially in the area of the workplace and have seen a significant shift as Generation Y or the Millennial Generation has entered the workforce. And while I have seen campers come to camp with more technology, I have not seen their play quality and values change. When told to put the phone or video game away, kids comply and really just want to be playing with other children. I have seen our world become more protective of children as we worry about abduction, pedophiles, and failure. Because of those fears children have lost the ability to play outside without an adult. The recent popularity of Caine’s Arcade, is an example of what a 9 year old can do when a parent doesn’t over schedule or over-parent. Fighting boredom at his dad’s auto-parts shop, Caine made an elaborate arcade out of boxes. How many parents would have felt guilty that their child was stuck at an auto-parts shop all summer and purchased the latest video game unit to keep him busy and quell the whining, “I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do.”
Children have less time to play, are more scheduled into organized activities, and expected to do more hours of homework at younger ages than in the past. We over schedule our children and then complain when they are texting their friends. They are simply trying to squeeze their social life into the schedule the adults have created, between swim practice, soccer, homework, and music lessons. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the Huffington Post is running an article on the value of summer camp. My concern is labeling this generation as the group who does not want to go outside to play and would prefer to be playing video games. When else can children play without adults being involved? What is their alternative? I grew up with video games but my alternative was also going to the park and finding a pick-up baseball game and to play with kids I didn’t even know. Are you going to send your 12 year old out to do that today? No, you’re going to sign that 12 year old up for organized sports. More organization, less time to play on their own. When that child needs a break from the organized over-scheduled life we have created, they are stuck inside with books, TV, the internet, or video games. Summer camp is a welcome relief for them.