Annoyed or just caught off guard?
Happy, but what’s all over his face?
Thankfully, most sleep away camps ban most forms of technology. But while our campers are undergoing a much-needed screen detox, parents are more glued than ever. At least this parent is.
Part of it is that with my cooking, chauffeuring, and nagging responsibilities drastically cut, I have more time than ever to waste online. The rest has to do with those amazing and infuriating photos my children’s camps post on a daily basis. Amazing because they offer a window into the kids’ summer lives; infuriating because they offer a window into the kids’ summer lives.
Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the land and the closest thing to a cell phone was a regular-sized phone you plugged into your car, children shipped off to summer camp could only access their parents via snail mail or very, very rarely a phone call—and vice versa. Now, while they’re still cut off from us, we parents—addicted and feeling entitled to constant contact and information—are able to see our little ones swimming, boating, cheering for their color war teams, and more.
I’m not saying these shots don’t bring me a ton of joy—they certainly do. And in the case of Benjamin, who likely won’t tell me a single thing about what happened in the three weeks he was gone, they are sort of vital. But in my opinion the images chip away at the mystique and no-parents-allowed vibe of camp, as well as raise many a crazy-making question.
For example: Does he look happy here? Okay, so he looks happy in this one, but was it his only happy moment that day? Why is he always pictured alone, and not, like so many others, with his arm slung over a friend’s’ shoulders? Why are there so many shots of the counselors with that cute short kid and not my kid? Is he not one of their favorites? How come I don’t see him in that group hiking shot? And, worst of all: HOW CAN THERE NOT BE ANY PHOTOS OF HIM TODAY?
Then there’s what the cameras are doing to our kids. Can’t camp be one place in our ridiculously over-documented world where they don’t have to stop what they’re doing and pose? Where they can live in the moment and not feel the need to be Instagram-ready?
Not that any of this will stop me from my compulsive web stalking. In fact, uh, signing off. Don’t worry—if there are any new, smiley shots I’ll totally put them on Facebook so you (and the world!) can see what a great time my happy, cute kids are having.