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OSRUI also plans to incorporate a new digital pen pal program in which campers will Skype with Israeli children to practice their Hebrew and make Israeli friends. The camp’s website currently offers an extensive digital gallery that uploads some 500 photos of campers each day.
Not all camp officials are fans of providing information to parents in real time, however.
“The problem with incorporating all this technology is that I think camp should be teaching independence, how to get along on your own, and parents will hear half-stories often if they are constantly being updated by a phone call or a photo,” Morasha camp director Ira Spodek said.
Like many summer camps, Morasha still is trying to figure out the good and the bad of technology. Spodek says the camp’s rule banning Internet-enabled gadgets is becoming increasingly harder to enforce with technology advancing and filtering down even to the youngest campers. He notes that some campers will show up with two cellphones: one to forfeit to the office, the other to use secretly throughout the summer to contact parents.
Ultimately, says Alan Silverman, director of Bnei Akiva’s Camp Moshava in Ontario, Canada, summer camp is about giving the kids an experience beyond the ordinary.
“We don’t allow any sort of cellphones or gadgets in our camp, and it’s not because we’re against them,” Silverman said. “The goal is to show them how much camp has to offer, with all the nature and sports, that it’s better for them to leave the gadgets behind for the summer.”