Smartphones at Camp 

We instinctually know that the camping experience is much better without smartphones and technology, but what do the campers themselves think? The results of my research might surprise you. 

For this study, I spoke with 45 participants in an overnight teen camper program. All campers were between the ages of 15 and 17, and many of them had been going to camp for multiple years. The “no cell phone” policy had been in place for a while, so most of the participants had experienced separation from their smartphone before. I asked them broad questions about the camp experience without their smartphone, and how they felt camp would be different if smartphones were allowed.  

Camp with Smartphones 

Overall, campers felt that camp with smartphones just wouldn’t be as much fun! Some campers talked about how smartphones would function as a barrier to participating in activities, and most of the teens recognized that if campers were allowed smartphones, no one would interact with each other in person. Everyone would be scrolling through their newsfeed or Instagram, and wouldn’t bother to have a conversation with their other campers.  

Camp without Smartphones 

Surprisingly, most campers agreed with “no phone” policies and felt that camp was a better experience without smartphones. Campers described how, because there are no phones allowed at camp, they are able to meet people and interact with them offline, form closer connections with others (including those they know from home), get a much-needed break from the expectations and pressures of social media, and have the opportunity to live in the moment.  

The Takeaway 

Does your child’s camp have a smartphone policy? If so, do you see a difference in your child after this tech-free experience?  

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