Have you ever heard of the National Radio Quiet Zone? It’s an actual place in the United States where most electronic communications are literally prohibited! It’s a zone in West Virginia and Virginia that’s designed to protect an important radio device. But metaphorically speaking it seems like a place that one could easily — and happily — go to de-stress from the modern deluge of information and e-signals.
I could use a vacation there!
Obviously at Camp Alleghany for Girls we don’t have such radio silence (and we’re not physically located in that zone at all).
And of course our office in Lewisburg on site at Camp is buzzing with connection to you — our camp parents — and the outside world of contractors, safety workers, and others.
But for the campers of Camp Alleghany for Girls — for them — it might as well be their own little radio silence such as is found in the Radio Quiet Zone.
And that, my friends and dear readers, is a GOOD thing. A VERY good thing!
Our nearly 100-year-old camp has preserved the best of timeless summertime traditions to craft a camp experience that brings your daughter in touch with herself, with others, with nature, and with all new possibilities. And none of this would be doable if iPhones, iPads, laptops, video cameras, digital cameras, and other pocket-sized transmission devices were dominating (or even appearing in) our rustic little retreat, our heavenly slice of the West Virginia landscape.
That’s why it’s important from time-to-time to remind parents, counselors, and campers about our NO electronics policy, and to review it with you afresh.
The policy, directly from the Parent Handbook that families should have received, is pretty straightforward. There are:
NO ELECTRONICS DEVICES OF ANY KIND ALLOWED AT CAMP.
- No cell phones, period.
- No iPads, iPods, laptops, Nintendo DS, electronic “pets,” or other e-devices.
- No video cameras and no digital cameras*.
Alleghany’s philosophy is:
… that when young women spend time together in a structured yet fun setting, away from their male friends, school, peer pressure, and academic expectations, they gain confidence and leadership potential. Alleghany offers a chance to experience new activities, to express one’s self, and to broaden one’s abilities without the pressures of our fast-paced society. Living under an honor system and in the safety of the wilderness away from the distractions of modern technology, the girls build new skills, lasting friendships, and solid self-confidence.
We’ve long done a No Tech Series on our blog to help explain to parents and campers why camp is best experienced unplugged. I hope you’ll check it out.
It’s also come to my attention that, with the rapidly changing pace of technology and tech devices, I need to clarify some elements in our No Electronics Policy, particularly as regards digital cameras and video cameras.
Video cameras are not allowed to be brought into camp by campers at all, under any circumstances.
Digital cameras are not allowed at camp unless your daughter plans to take Photography (Term Camp activity offering only), in which case her camera will be kept safely locked up in the office and checked out exclusively for use during class (Note: campers do NOT need to bring their own camera if they choose to take Photography).
A total blackout?
Yes, we live in an age when kids simply LOVE to document everything they do in photos and online whether they’re alone or with friends. And fortunately for them they have 10-11 other months of the year to do exactly that.
But not at camp!
Today’s kids are not taking photos to develop back at home in a dark room or dropped off at the local pharmacy. Nor are they customarily taking Polaroid type shots anymore (that much).
Instead, today’s digital cameras and video cameras come WiFi ready, app-optimized, or even with their own data plans, á la a phone. They are wired for the Internet whether a kid is at home, school, in a dinghy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or on the most remote mountaintop in the Himalayas.
This wired-ready access means that even at camp a photo can go instantly to Facebook or Instagram straight from their cameras. This is an interruptive energy that culls all those girls’ heads around an e-device waiting for it to do its online thing. Soon girls aren’t looking at trees, canoe strokes, tennis swings, or art projects but are instead drawn like bugs to a lantern around e-screens to watch their worlds get affirmed online.
This is not what a true summer camp retreat is about. And it never will be.
We obviously don’t have time to check every camera to see if it has only access features, so the easiest thing is for there to be a blanket no digital cameras/video cameras policy.
Electronics on buses: Once Camp Alleghany assumes responsibility for a camper, all of Camp Alleghany’s rules apply, including the Electronics Policy. Therefore, campers will not be allowed to use a cell phone, iPod or any other electronic device on the bus. Please do not send these items with her on the bus.
Cell phones prohibited
Please do not allow campers’ cell phones or iPods on the camp side of the river on opening or closing days.
When you drop your daughter off at camp or pick her up, please leave all her electronic devices, including cell phones, in the car! The only campers who should bring a cell phone into camp are those who are arriving by plane, and they will check their phones into a locked safe in the office upon arrival.
Our beautiful camp
We’re just trying to live in the moment and be as tech-free as possible. If campers spend all summer documenting life at camp via phone or other cameras — video or digital — it’s clear that they will have, ironically, missed the camp experience in the process of “capturing” camp.
While we think this kind of documentation is great for school yearbooks, class projects, internships, and other educational pursuits, it’s simply not the type of program we’re offering (and we do plenty of in-house photography and videos for everyone to enjoy).
Instead we’re offering campers all these amazing activities, including photography, in a way that is about the real world and not about the online world.
So…you know what’s more fun that talking about what’s not allowed? Talking about what is!!!
Generations of ‘Ghany Girls have enjoyed cool mornings waking up to birdsong along the banks of the Greenbrier River.
Decade after decade ‘Ghany Girls have queued up for activities, setting their sites on a target, aiming for a bullseye, nailing that ace serve, and acting out a dramatic show.
For almost a century ‘Ghany Girls have gathered around crackling fires, sung songs together, chanted a familiar Dining Hall cheer, played harmless pranks on one another, and fallen asleep in crisp tents under starry skies only to wake up and do it all again.
And summer after summer beautiful friendships have been made face-to-face, eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart among ‘Ghany Girls of all ages and across the generations.
Nearly a century of camp in the pristine wilderness with other happy and enlivened girls can’t be wrong. In fact it’s so right!
Let’s remember what’s really unique about Camp Alleghany, and then those online thumbs up, likes, and hearts and hours around a screen will be a distant memory while at camp. In fact, parents often find that girls are just a little less interested in all that stuff once they’ve tasted a life unplugged.
Consider that the bonus! 🙂
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls