The Camp Director

Leadership, Technology, Training, Staff Recruitment, Marketing, Child Development, Risk Management

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Has technology altered the way kids play?

April 18th, 2012 · Development & Behavior, Technology

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.

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Should Camp Directors Ask for an Applicant’s Facebook Password?

March 27th, 2012 · Facebook, Human Resources

I heard rumblings on the internets last week of applicants going in for interviews and being asked for their Facebook passwords. Facebook released a statement and I dismissed this as a response to isolated cases. Surely employer are not doing this. Perhaps I was wrong and this is more wide-spread than I had thought.

What exactly do employers think they are going to find that a good manager or interviewer doesn’t discover? Over the years as a camp director when Myspace first came on the scene and then Facebook, I have been asked by fearful camp directors about managing their employees’ digital life. As camp directors, we need to have an interview and screening process that selects people who will represent our brand well and keep kids safe. Staff need education on how to behave online and what their digital life says about who they are as well as what it says about the camp and the director who hires them. I know, from running this type of training at camp, that young people don’t consider that my reputation is tethered to theirs when I offer them a job. By saying, “You are right for our camp,” I am making a judgement based on two decades of managing people. In addition to my judgement, we also have additional background checks, reference letters, and supervision on the job. Do I need to see their private Facebook posts to make that determination?  Maybe I have been in Berkeley too long but I think people should be able to have a private life while presenting themselves in a professional manner when at work.

I do like Jeremiah Owyang’s post Employers Shouldn’t Request Facebook Access – Instead Provide Governance and Training. He talks more about what happens after the individual is hired. I would add that you need strong interviewers on your hiring committee who have a better than average ability to spot trouble in an interview without needing to see a Facebook account. With the digital natives, it is then essential that you teach them how their private digital life can bleed into their professional persona and how to live successfully in both worlds. It is a form of code-shifting that they need to learn, testing me as their boss is different than texting a peer in both substance and form.

What do you think? Are you asking for passwords to see private Facebook messages of your potential employees? What sort of training do you do to help your staff manage their digital life?


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