How camp gave me a much-needed break from the world of technology

This blog was written by the 2018 Marketing Intern, Elizabeth Mattern. 

Like most college students, I winced when I read my camp’s technology policy. As a college student, it is a little unsettling taking a position that requires you to be phoneless during the day. I mean, my phone is not just my phone. It is my alarm clock, my calendar, my camera, my GPS, and my music player. Does camp not realize we are in the midst of the digital age? Am I being set up for failure?

Before arriving at camp, I had to purchase an alarm clock and a wristwatch. This solved only two of my problems now that I was phoneless. If I can’t refresh my Facebook and Twitter feed, how am I supposed to stay connected? Not just with friends back home, but with news and other events.

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Arriving at camp I remember feeling anxious. After unpacking and doing my best to settle in, I remember all I wanted to do was phone my friends and parents for the remainder of the night. I walked into the cabin and was greeted by other counselors. I did my best to hide my anxiety, but my mind was consumed with checking my phone. It was impossible for me to be present and focus on building new friendships.

By the third or fourth day, I was feeling phantom vibrations. I also started to miss home. I constantly patted my pocket to check for my phone but of course, it was not there. I know for me, my phone caused me a lot of anxiety and dependency. The longer I spent away from my phone it became more apparent that my phone was controlling me rather than me controlling my phone.

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I began to clearly see the positive impact unplugging had on me. I was feeling disconnected from my friends and family back home, but I connected more with my co-counselors and was present at the moment. My relationship with technology was affecting how I communicated, and I did not even realize it. Without my phone in hand, I was able to focus more on the interactions I was having and creating deeper relationships with others.  In fact, unplugging was crucial in me building quality relationships with the camp staff.

I also noticed changes in my sleeping patterns. Without my phone’s light keeping my mind awake at night, I was able to get the necessary sleep to keep me alert and energized the following day.

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I even began taking walks during my break periods. It is incredible the healing effect nature can have on your mind. My anxiety began to improve, and I felt like I was giving myself time to retain everything I was experiencing that day. Walks are efficient and great for your mind and body. Scrolling through Instagram is a distraction and was negatively affecting my health.

Going phoneless at camp helped my personal growth and development. My mental health, communication skills, and overall wellness improved. After being at camp for over a month, I can honestly say that checking my texts, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feed is more of a chore than a convenience. It is okay to unplug and activate a part of you that you did not know was there. Unplugging was the best thing I did for myself, and I encourage others to do the same.

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