Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cell phones in camp

Since I tend to go to shul every shabbos, and it is the summer, I often find myself speaking to people who either have kids or siblings in camp.

I've learned that its a huge thing for camps to forbid cell phones.

I know frummies are nut jobs, but I imagined that some of the camps would
allow cellphones if they're kept off and are only used during break hours.

Nope. Of course I was wrong.

One of my friends explained to me that cell phones are not allowed because the camps have a "mixed" crowd. She said that while some boys are from families who allow cell phones other boys may come from families who do not allow them, so therefore the camp forbids the phones to avoid any potential conflict.

When I heard that reasoning I got really annoyed.

I honestly don't understand why there is such babying in the frummy community. I grew up in a public school, where everything was allowed. Over the years my parents refused to buy me plenty of things I wanted that "everyone else" had. Even in HS when I was one of the last girls in my program to get a cell phone; the only reason I finally received one was because my YOUNGER sister (who wasn't yet in HS), needed to travel to the city, and my overprotective parents decided to get a family plan.

I learned to live with having DIFFERENT sorts of friends. I learned over the years that I can't be like everyone else, and that while some things seemed awesome, they were either totally impractical and a complete waste of money, or just not the type of thing that fit in with my family.

That is called GROWING or MATURING. This is how NORMAL people teach their kids how the world works; they send them to school, and then refuse to buy their kids things their friends have but they don't need (hopefully with an explanation).

Parents don't always say no. Sometimes things friends have are actually reasonable. If the parents are smart, they'll help the kid start a new trend (I remember in kindergarten a few moments of class time for a few days were devoted to playing with random things my mom made out of paper).

Frummies cannot comprehend the concept of being DIFFERENT. They feel like everyone has to be the same. Gd forbid a child's feelings get hurt because his parents are "frummer".


How is a kid going to end up in the work force one day and realize that it's no longer just "machmir" it's the ENTIRE culture that differentiates him from his coworkers?

If school (and camp) is supposed to be a learning experience for the children, why the hell does the administration avoid potential life lessons to be revealed at home later on in the day, after camp?


lvnsm27 said...

I remember my first cell phone. I now have a newer one and enjoy taking pics with it.

Jessica said...

...I'm 95% sure cell phones aren't allowed in most sleep-away camps -- whether they're Jewish or not.

harry-er than them all said...

as a guy who worked in a jewish camp this summer (although not a "frummie" one) i can tell you that having a cell phone in camp disturbs alot . the camp i worked at decided not to ban cell-phones this year, but really wants to do it for next year. whether the kids decide to talk on the phone in the middle of activities, or text in the middle of a learning group, it creates problems.

Camp SEG (an ncsy camp for girls in the catskills) this summer had all the girls submit phones at the beginning of the summer, and two or three times a week gave it back to the girls to call whoever they wanted.

before cell-phones i remember when i went to camp, when one actually had to wait in line for a pay phone to call my parents once a week. it is a tremendous independence experience, and I believe that camps may use other reasons to cover up the main reason which is that it disturbs camp life.

Frum and Rational said...

I was in two different camps which did not allow cell phones, but 80% of us had them anyways,and people would always text in bathroom stalls or find an empty room to talk in, and none of the counselors cared. The danger was that you would get caught by a head counselor or administrator, in which case you would get it confiscated, but this rarely happened and they would sometimes let people off with a warning anyway. Pretty much, the rule had no effect.

Frum and Rational said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JRS said...

i agree w/almost all of what you said re: growing up, dealing with differences, recognizing that there are different types of people in the world, etc.
But cellphones are a poor example; this issue is not about being different or individualistic. The concern about internet access on phones (not something to sneeze at either, as you ought to know if you've got kids older than, say 7) is only one point in the overall issue, which is a legitimate one. Like television, it's not strictly a frum/jewish phenomenon (altho it's easy to mistake it for one). In reality, many conscientious parents, jewish or not, are concerned with the endless, mindless texting, calling and game-playing that cellphones make such a constant, accessible activity.

you say you "grew up in a public school, where everything was allowed". and "Over the years my parents refused to buy me plenty of things I wanted that 'everyone else' had."

it's unclear, do you think your parent's policy was good or not? Do you approve of a situation in a school where "everything was allowed"? Because the inclination (on the part of both parents and even schools) to 'just say no" to kids, teaching them in the process that they don't need, and will not have, every single thing their friends do---is sorely lacking in many parents, especially some of the younger ones, many of whom apparently still haven't outgrown their own feelings of juvenile rebelliousness towards adult/yeshiva authority.

I, too, really dislike the trend toward more and more rules & regulations. But I understand where it's coming from, these days: relying on the parents' own sensible discretion is, sadly, a non-starter. Same with school uniforms. It bothers me that my kid can't be a little individualistic, dress in styles and colors that suit her/him. But the reality is that many parents inevitably show utter disregard--or perhaps simply a complete lack of common sense--- for the standards of school, community, etc. And the school has a right to want kids dressing within certain boundaries. Hence, uniforms.

When kids can be expected to never talk on phones except for necessities/suitable reasons, at appropriate, non-disruptive times, the schools & camps will have no reason to object to them bringing cellphones. In other words, not any time soon.

mlevin said...

JRS - FS was given a reason for cell phone ban not because of too much use or internet, but because it's unfair that some kids have it and some kids don't and it could cause questioning of parental values and other such nonesense.

As for your reasons, there is a simple solution. Make all children who have cell phones put it on a dedicated cell phone shelf, and they could use it only at the certain predetermined times and conditions.

I have a problem with confiscating phones too. Because in case of emergency parents/relatives want to be able to reach their child in the easiest possibly way. If phones are confiscated by the camp, in case of emergency it would be hours before children are able to get their phones and make contact.

As for internet usage and too much talking and texting, that could be solved by a cell phone shelf and dedicated time for it's use.

inkstainedhands said...

I remember when I went to camp at the age of 12... It was my first time in camp, and actually my first time away from my parents for an extended period. I did not have a cell phone at that age, but I can guarantee you that if I did have one with me in camp, I would be spending most activities talking to my parents. So it's reasonable that camps would not want girls to have phones with them, because then they are more detached and not as involved.

We had to use payphones to call our parents, and could only do so at certain times. So I just told my parents in advance to call me as often as possible (probably every other day) on the regular phones in the dining room, from which we were allowed to receive incoming calls, and that's what they did.

As for the reason you mentioned -- so other kids shouldn't feel bad -- I agree with you that it's time for them to grow up and realize they can't have everything their peers have.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica- I wouldn't know.

Harry, frum and rational & ISH-

I'm not saying camps should allow cell phones to be used all hours of the day. I'm aware of the distractions cell phones cause (mine distracts me at work, its hard for me to ignore it). I was merely arguing the reasoning as to why camps don't allow phones that was given to me.
I'm all for the enforcement of strict rules with cell phones. Have the counselors collect the phones the first day of camp and distribute them the few times a week the kids are allowed to make phone calls (or w/e other policy the camp has regarding phones), but to not allow the phones because of the different family values is just dumb. That's all I was arguing. I don't disagree one bit about how distracting cell phones can be.

frumskeptic said...

"it's unclear, do you think your parent's policy was good or not?"
I think my parent's policy was a good one. It took a few years for me to grow up and realize (obviously) just how good it was. Now, that I have to spend my own money on a lot of things, I'm very practical. I'm pretty sure that came from the way they explained why they didn't get me certain things and from how they made me think about whether I really "needed" other things.
"...teaching them in the process that they don't need, and will not have, every single thing their friends do---is sorely lacking in many parents, especially some of the younger ones, many of whom apparently still haven't outgrown their own feelings of juvenile rebelliousness towards adult/yeshiva authority."

Ahh, yes. But I think that's mostly due to the fact that many of today's younger parents (at least many of the ones I know) are people who still rely on their parents for every little thing. Many of the girls from my HS who are now mothers have their rents paid by their parents (or in-laws). When their kids were born they didn't have to spend a single cent of their own money to pay for baby items.
It's a beautiful thing that the grandparents can help out tremendously, but the key is in the process teach them how to manage money, because even a huge amount of money can run out or lose value (unexpected illness, inflation etc) . with many of the young parents I know (kids are not old enough to be in school yet) There is no doubt that when their babies/toddlers become old enough to go to school, they'll allow their kids to have everything, for the mere fact that money is cheap for them.

"I, too, really dislike the trend toward more and more rules & regulations. But I understand where it's coming from, these days: relying on the parents' own sensible discretion is, sadly, a non-starter. "

What do you expect from people who don't do anything without Rabbinic advise? Or people who needed their parents to do a major investigation for every person they went out with? These people can't make decisions on their own. They went to school for crazy hours in a day and then summer camp and then had their parents decide who they could date. now that they themselves are parents, how are they supposed to parent properly if they never even took care of themselves? IF their entire life was mapped out for them since they were born you can't really blame them for being so careless about it.
" Hence, uniforms."
I'm against uniforms, but I'm ok with dress codes (room for individuality, without the distraction). But I understand your point.

Yeshivish Atheist said...

Yeah, my sister went to camp and they wouldn't let her have a cellphone. It's silly, and the justification for it is even sillier, but hey, that's the camp's rule. If one takes issue with it, one should just not go to the camp I guess.

Moshe said...

How is a kid going to end up in the work force one day and realize that it's no longer just "machmir" it's the ENTIRE culture that differentiates him from his coworkers?
I think you're making too much of an assumption with this one. ;-)

word verification: clangs

JRS said...

my mistake: I did read it, but somehow missed that point of your posting, about how the camps disallow cellphones because they "have a 'mixed' crowd." (although in fairness, that was one person's theory as to the reason. Ask 5 people the reason for any rule, ban, minhag, and you'll get about 6 answers).
Still, if that's the case, I totally agree with you: I've always said virtually the exact same things regarding other intrusive rules/limitations, etc.

For example, limits on chasuna expenditures: yes, many weddings are shamelessly over-the-top & extravagant. No, it's no one else's business. The rush to control how other people spend their $$ is driven by envy, not concern for those rich folk's spiritual well-being. Some argue that it IS everyone else's business, because people like that create an atmosphere in which poorer people feel compelled to spend money they don't have. BS. Those people are largely compelled by, again, envy. Grow the hell up--if you don't have the money, don't spend it.

I agree with 100% of what you said re: people who don't make a move w/o halachic consultation, parental assistance etc.---ultimately, such people actually have no truly personal set of ethics, sense of obligation or common sense. All they've got is a council of parents & rabbis to tell them what to do!

JRS said...

thanks for alerting me to the reason given in the orig. post for banning cellphones in camp. Like I said, that makes all the difference, tho I'm not convinced that's every camp's only reason.

Your idea of putting cellphones on a shelf except for designated times is not bad, but then you get into the whole 'compliance' issue---are they going to have inspections, searching for cellphones? ; )
There will always be people who break any rule, but a ban carries more weight, I think.

I do remember the frustration in my own camp days, standing in an endless line for the 1 or 2 public phones... but, as the saying goes, we survived! This need to constantly be in touch with parents is yet another form of today's infantilism.

mlevin said...

JRS - as a parent in this post 9/11 era, I want to have an ability to be in an easy contact with my child(ren).

"...are they going to have inspections, searching for cellphones? ; )"

Also, as a parent, I am able to monitor what my children are doing with the phone through out the day. Camps can request an access to the campers' usage for the summer, too. And with a help of a simple software application monitor and be alerted of all illegal activities.

Sam said...

Some nice info, I would also like to share this.

notes about nothing said...

I agree that it's silly to ban phones for the reason mentioned in the post. When I was in 4th grade, they banned tamagachis (virtual pets) for a similar reason- that the have-nots shouldn't feel bad- but then again, I didn't go to a frum school, so for all we know, this actually could be going on everywhere you go.

Banning cell phones for purposes of maintaining the camp spirit and environment is a good thing though. The camp experience really gets diluted when you have the ability to call mom crying every time something goes wrong rather than just dealing with it on your own. When I went to camp, there were no phone calls, not even on the pay phone- just LETTERS. And I'm 21 years old, so we're talking late 90's-earlier this decade, not the 60's. Also, I did not go to frum camps.

At the end of the day, the discussion is probably moot because most camps are located in places with no signal, so your phone would be of little use to you anyway...

volunteer in hamilton said...

I think cell phone should be allowed in the camp.

Anonymous said...

If I'm paying x amount of dollars no matter the cost I would like for my child to have access to the phone which I or my child pays for it just makes no can a camp restrict the access of a device that costs money once a month on top of the $1500 I'm paying for this program.