Boyhood Unplugged: What Are Mornings Like at Camp?

July 27 4b911ccf 2be9 4d4c ab5e b37903a9fff2.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
No screen time at camp means we get to enjoy the outdoors and each others company!

One of the best parts about camp is the extended break from screens, and being able to enjoy friends and activities completely unplugged. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says that “on average, children ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours.” That means that over two weeks at home, boys could be watching 56 to 126 hours of screens. Instead, during the two weeks that boys are here at camp this session, they get to spend 0 hours watching screens, using that free time to make memories and learn skills instead!

Screen shot 2022 08 02 at 10.30.06 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1
Sitting with friends at Morning Watch yesterday

For most of us, using screens is a daily part of our routines. We might start the morning by snoozing the alarm on our phones, scrolling social media in bed, checking our email over breakfast, or distracting ourselves with YouTube videos. But what would your morning look like if you didn’t start with technology?

Here at camp, our alarm clock is the bell, which we can hear through the screen windows in the cabins. Instead of hearing the buzzing of an alarm or the radio, we get to wake up with the sound of birds and bugs, waking up along with us. After quickly doing our morning chores and getting ready for the day, we gather quietly at Morning Watch. This happens at the upper lake, where everyone sits on benches as a cabin, taking in the sounds of the morning.

Screen shot 2022 08 02 at 10.30.21 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1
JGB sharing a message of encouragement yesterday

Once everyone has silently gathered together, someone will come to the front to share a thought or story for the day. This reflective time sets the tone for the rest of the day, and gives us all something to think about as we move through our activities. Yesterday, John Burton (JGB) led Morning Watch. “A winner is just a loser who never quit trying,” he told us. JGB encouraged the boys and staff that we can do anything we set our minds to, as long as we keep trying and doing our best.

Screen shot 2022 08 02 at 10.31.23 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1
"Gooooooood Morning Falling Creek!"

After Morning Watch, it’s time to head to breakfast. Yesterday’s meal was sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits with a bowl of the sweetest red strawberries on every cabin’s table! We also had our usual fruit, yogurt, and granola bar at the front, and grits on the hot bar. It’s important to fuel up in the mornings at camp to be prepared for all the activities that await us - luckily the kitchen staff provide huge quantities of delicious food for us to choose from!

E196aa68 97d0 49cc b43b 06f95b2216db.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Once everyone has had their fill of breakfast, we gather as a camp community one more time on the front porch of the Dining Hall. This time, it’s for Morning Assembly, which is high-energy, exciting, and full of silliness to start the day on a positive note!

You can see a video of a typical Morning Assembly from earlier in the summer here.

Screen shot 2022 08 02 at 10.32.28 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1

Yesterday’s skit was “Baby’s Got a Pain,” where the counselors acted out a commercial in different ways and scenarios for the picky director, only to go with the original take at the end. The boys couldn’t stop laughing as CJ, one of our tallest counselors, played the baby. We’re lucky to have a whole group of talented musicians and singers at camp, who lead the songs at Morning Assembly each day. Yesterday we sang “Dust on my Saddle” and “Otter Family.”

Ever wanted to listen to camp songs at home? We made a playlist here!

Screen shot 2022 08 02 at 10.31.54 pm.png?ixlib=rails 2.1
Lew giving JR the "staff of the day" golden plunger at Morning Assembly yesterday

Finally, Morning Assembly wraps up with announcements, which tell the community all about the trips and special events happening that day. Boys can hear about trips going mountain biking, paddling, rock climbing, or backpacking, and choose to sign up for those adventures instead of their typical activities that day. We also have sign ups for the activities that take longer than a single period, like horseback riding, blacksmithing, fly fishing, and sailing.

July 31 73841985 5a86 406c a967 6bfeb96286c6.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

From there, everyone dismisses to their first activities (unless they want to join Pushup Porch for their daily pushups!), or heads over to sign up with the fun trips they just heard about. It’s not just the mornings that are screen-free at camp, but starting the day with community time instead of technology time is a refreshing way to wake up. Having this daily morning routine with both time for reflection and time for silliness sets a great tone for the rest of the day!