Exploring Camp Policies and Leadership Opinions on Digital Media Use in Camps

Ashley DeHudy, Jenny Radesky, Natalie Schellpfeffer, Michael Ambrose, Andrew Hashikawa


While summer camps provide children a unique experience away from home, this environment may lead to increased and unsupervised use of digital media. Camps’ policies and leaderships’ views on digital media consumption in camps are currently unknown. To elucidate current trends, we partnered with CampDoc.com to survey a national sample of camp leadership about digital media policies and practices. A single response was selected from each camp and analyzed using descriptive statistics. Free text responses reflecting on positive and negative experiences with digital media were assessed using thematic analysis. We received 722 responses from 363 of the 950 camps within the Camp Doc network. Respondents represented camps in 45 states in the United States. Internet and cell service were available in 22.3% and 34.7% of camps, respectively. Approximately 60% of camps reported a digital media policy for campers and staff. Most policies (67.9%) did not allow use of digital media devices. Camp leadership reported that smartphones (51.3%) and social media apps (42.2%) were most difficult to restrict. Qualitative themes focused on the benefits of digital media for creativity and connection, but also the interruption of camp experiences. Camp personnel described positive media uses aligned with American Academy of Pediatrics media guidelines, for teaching creativity, acquiring new skills, and understanding the value of unplugging for creating social connections. Although most camps have policies restricting digital media use, complete restriction may be difficult.


youth digital media; camp digital media use; benefits of digital media use; downfalls of digital media use

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2021.975

Copyright (c) 2021 Ashley DeHudy, Jenny Radesky, Natalie Schellpfeffer, Michael Ambrose, Andrew Hashikawa

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