By Sara Wipfler Acharya
Although we all look forward to the summer as a chance to unwind and unplug from technology, we probably wouldn’t be pleased if we were 100% unplugged from our children. When my Dad went to camp, he got dropped off and aside from the occasional letter, didn’t hear from his parents nor did they get a camp update on him until pick-up day. Of course, that was then, but nowadays, in the age of social media and instant feedback, low parental communication would be near impossible to stomach.
While Kingswood ensures the boys enjoy a screenless summer, it recognizes that many parents look forward to the daily updates the camp provides. Kingswood takes the updates seriously and delivers them in many forms: Vimeos, blogs, photos, and personal emails.
The Vimeos are shot by assorted staff members and are compiled and uploaded by Rob. The blogs are written by my Dad, and Dad and I share the responsibility of posting photos. As you can see, when we say Kingswood is a family run camp- we mean it! Who better to share a glimpse into camp life than the people at the center of it all? We make it our mission to know each and every camper and also to know when a parent is a little more in need of a photo update: i.e the parent of a first year junior camper versus a seasoned camper completing his 5th summer. That being said, everyone wants to see how his or her child is doing at camp, so we try to spread the wealth.
My goal is to upload a few dozen photos daily, and help organize supplemental photo postings by my Dad. We both keep a checklist of the campers photographed so that we make sure our bases are as evenly covered as possible. The photographs relate to the wanderings we have had that day, so while one day may be more focused on a soccer tournament we attended, the next could be adventures at a local swimming hole. You may not see a picture of your son every day, but the ones you do see should be validation that the camp is not only happily busy with your son caught up in the action, but that the camp directorship is actively engaged with the community. Here’s a comment we received this summer, and one which echoes a sentiment we hear often: “My son escaped the lens in those great photos posted today, but I sense he was there nonetheless and it gives me great satisfaction to know that the directors care enough about the boys to be out there observing them every day.”
Some parents struggle with the transition of being away from their child for the first time. They wonder what their child is doing and furthermore how their child is doing. During the first few days of camp it is not uncommon for campers to write a sad letter home, even if they are really only feeling down during downtime like rest hour and before bedtime. While they might be sad in that instant, it’s not a reliable indicator of how their overall camp experience is going. After receiving a letter that thanks you for sending them to Alcatraz, your anxieties can be eased when you check the daily photo uploads and find your son pictured with a huge smile on his face.
We can email you or you can read about the good time the boys are having at camp, but few things can be as reassuring as seeing your child involved in and enjoying camp. A parent might question if their son is making friends, and then they see a candid picture of their child in the middle of a team huddle. They may ask if their son is having any reservations about going in the lake and then they see a video of their child jumping off the dive tower. Or they know that their son really wanted to join the Varsity Club and then the photo report is about a hike that their son went on that got him one star closer to the Piermont level.
Visual confirmation is a powerful thing. It’s hard to imagine that this type of communication with families is a newer phenomenon. Even just a few years ago the barometer for happiness was primarily the sporadic letter home. Parents just assumed everything was going well unless you heard otherwise. Now you can log on and see for yourself.
And now: for some of my all time favorite camp photos! Enjoy!