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


  • Ashley DeHudy Cherry Creek Pediatrics
  • Jenny Radesky Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics; Michigan Medicine
  • Natalie Schellpfeffer Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine
  • Michael Ambrose St. Joseph Mercy Health System
  • Andrew Hashikawa Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine




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


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.

Author Biographies

Ashley DeHudy, Cherry Creek Pediatrics

Ashley A. DeHudy, MD, MPH 

Community Pediatrician 

Cherry Creek Pediatrics

Jenny Radesky, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics; Michigan Medicine

Jenny S. Radesky, MD

Assistant Professor

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics

Michigan Medicine

Natalie Schellpfeffer, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine

Natalie Schellpfeffer, MD 

Assistant Professor 

Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics 

Michigan Medicine

Michael Ambrose, St. Joseph Mercy Health System

Michael Ambrose, MD 

Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician 

St. Joseph Mercy Health System

Andrew Hashikawa, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine

Andrew N. Hashikawa, MD, MS

Clinical Associate Professor

Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics

Michigan Medicine


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