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“Screen Time” or Sunshine, Sports, and Swimming at Summer Camp

by Celeste Brooks, Director of Public Relations

There are some parts of our childhood we don’t want our kids to repeat. Getting picked on in school, failing a test, or breaking an arm, for example. But sunshine, sports, and swimming at summer camp? Those are pieces of a childhood that we not only want for our young children, but for our middle school and high school students as well.

The question is, will our children get them this summer? Or will they be sitting in a room with the blinds drawn so that the sun’s glare doesn’t disrupt their video game?

I’m hitting that dilemma myself this year. My daughter is now in sixth grade and the imaginative play with horses on the bedroom floor is pretty much a thing of the past. That means that left on her own to amuse herself, she goes to the computer or the video games. And even though she’s usually playing a game that’s creative or she’s writing a story or making a movie, it’s all still “screen time.” And so while I don’t worry about her brain wasting away, I still worry it’s going to be too much “screen time” this summer, especially since I’m a working parent.

As parents, we have to be very careful of balancing the summer for our children. Yes, they need downtime and time to just “chill” and be kids. They need time with us (our undivided attention, mind you, without us going onto our smart phones to check Facebook and email—but that’s another blog). They also need ways to keep their minds active over the summer. Think about how “out of it” you feel when you go back to the office after a week off—of course you feel refreshed, but it takes some time to truly get your head back into what’s going on at the office. That’s what happens to our kids over the summer—except they’re getting a three-month break, and it takes weeks for them to get their heads back “into it” in the fall.

For our family, Randolph-Macon Academy’s summer camp has provided a good balance for all of that, and it’s gotten even better this year. First of all, the students have a few hours of classes in the morning—so their brains are engaged and active. Then they spend the afternoon doing some entertaining activities like laser tag, swimming, dodge ball, and arts and crafts, among a bunch of others. The timing was right—a four-week camp kept my daughter busy for a while, but allowed for plenty of downtime and family time. This year, that four-week camp is an option at R-MA (July 5-31), but there are also two-week options (July 5-17 and July 19-31). Due to some changes at home, that two-week option happens to be perfect for us this year.

Regardless of what you plan for your child this summer, I hope it involves that right balance and a lot of great memories for your child and you.