Unplugging at Camp by Dan Weir

The following is an excerpt from Dan's article. The full essay can be found in the articles section of this site.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has been conducting  a 10 year study following children  aged 8 to 18 pertaining to media in their lives. The foundation surveyed over 2000 children over 3 time periods.  They found that children’s use of technology has gone up to 7 ½ hours a day.  The amount of time, which seemed impossible  to increase six years ago, has gone up because now children are multitasking – watching a movie on their computer while they use Facebook on their iPhone.

 This study, while noting the sharp increase in technology use, showed that both grades and the amount of friendships children made stayed relatively the same. Technology can even help children keep made friendships.  It was noted, “there are more than 10,000 neighborhood groups in Yahoo!’s group directories, one of many sites that offer neighbors the means to connect” (Baym 93). There are other studies that show children are still being social despite being online and connected constantly.  Children are still making friends, they are simply making those friendships in a different way.

In a study on media by The Kaiser Family Foundation, children were asked about their time outdoors. Children were asked, “Thinking just about yesterday, how much time did you spend being physically active or exercising, (such as playing sports, working out, dancing, running, or another activity)?”, 89% answered that they did spend time outside yesterday and that they spent an average of 1 hour 42 minutes outdoors.  This number confirms suspicions that children want to spend time outdoors.  A focus of most summer camps is to reconnect children with nature. In the study “Camps and Nature” 95% of summer camps give children  a chance to reconnect with the natural environment (James).  Children want to be outdoors and summer camp gives children that opportunity through intentional programming.

When a child arrives at summer camp, they are often in a group,  also known as cabin with other campers they haven’t met before.   This cabin of roughly 8 campers, varying from camp to camp, is often accompanied by two young adults known as counselors.  These counselors have been trained in how to facilitate building friendships and incorporate teambuilding between the campers.  The counselors help children connect with each other through communication and positive encouragement. Because of this, deep and life-long friendships are often made at camp. Summer camp isn’t a one dimensional  environment either. One study states, “emerging evidence suggests that camp-based groups for children and adolescents with chronic illnesses offer promise in multiple dimensions including coping, social support, education, empowerment, normalization, and coping” (MacLusky 212).  Children are able to work through impacting issues such as asthma or dialysis while at a summer  camp.  It is this idea that often remains hidden when people outside of the summer camp industry think of a child’s camping experience.

“Well-run camps have the character of providing affordances where young people are exposed to and can experiment with different points of view – exploring possibilities by challenging others’ ideas and having their own ideas challenged in return without the risk of simultaneously challenging their relationships with each other” (Dahl 232).  It’s this experimentation that provides an ideal opportunity  for children to take the social skills they learned online and perfect them in a safe environment.  The summer camp environment allows for experimentation with social skills through opportunities for communication between aged campers and counselors.  It has been noted that a traditional resident camp helps children, “to become independent and experiencing all the wonderful thing that happen in growing up” (Orecklin)In a summer camp environment, compared to being online, children are able to connect with others that have similar interests to their own.   The difference is that online, there is no camp counselor to provide positive encouragement. The lack of compassion and positive encouragement has lead to increasing amounts of online bullying and alienation.

Avoid These 7 Killer Cover Letter Mistakes

The applicant's resume was impressive. The formatting was impeccable, the content was excellent, and he did a great job of focusing on accomplishments instead of job duties. I am an employer, I was impressed. Then I looked at his cover letter and thought about tossing that perfect resume into the trash bin. Many college students and recent grads destroy their resumes by accompanying them with halfhearted or downright terrible cover letters. While some employers don't bother reading cover letters, most do. And they will quickly eliminate you if you make these cover letter mistakes:

Using the Wrong Cover Letter Format

The applicant's cover letter looked more like a cut-and-paste email than a business letter. It had no recipient information, no return address and no date. The letter screamed unprofessional. Be sure your cover letter uses a standard business-letter format. It should include the date, the recipient's mailing address and your address.

Making It All About You

It may seem counterintuitive, but your cover letter, like your resume, should be about the employer as much as it's about you. Yes, you need to tell the employer about yourself, but do so in the context of the employer's needs and the specified job requirements.

Not Proofing for Typos and Grammatical Errors

Employers tend to view  typos and grammatical errors as evidence of your carelessness and inability to write. Proofread every letter you send. Get additional cover letter help by asking a friend who knows good writing double-check your letter for you.

Making Unsupported Claims

Too many cover letters from college students and recent grads say the applicant has "strong written and verbal communication skills." Without evidence, it's an empty boast. Give some examples for each claim you make. Employers need proof.

Writing a Novel

A good cover letter should be no longer than one page. Employers are deluged with resumes and cover letters, and their time is scarce. Make sure your cover letter has three or four concise but convincing paragraphs that are easy to read. If your competitor's letter rambles on for two pages, guess which candidate the employer will prefer.

Using the Same Cover Letter for Every Job and Company

Employers see so many cover letters that it's easy for them to tell when you're using a one-size-fits-all approach. If you haven't addressed their company's specific concerns, they'll conclude you don't care about this particular job. It's time-consuming but worthwhile to customize each cover letter for the specific job and company.

Not Sending a Real Cover Letter

Some job seekers -- college students, recent grads and even those with years of work experience -- don't bother sending a cover letter with their resume. Others type up a one or two-sentence "here's my resume" cover letter, while others attach handwritten letters or sticky notes. There is no gray area here: You must include a well-written, neatly formatted cover letter with every resume you send. If you don't, you are unlikely to be considered for the job.