At camp, it’s ON…very much unlike Donkey Kong

Hey, Gamers!

Innovation and technology in the video game field have been sweeping the nation since they got their start in the 70’s. From Tetris to Mario, Donkey Kong to Madden NFL, the world of video games has boomed in popularity with advancing possibilities. A leading branch of entertainment, a lot of good can be said about video games and their proficiency in experiential learning—just check out this Ted Talk from gaming expert Jane McGonigal.

Ray Montgomery—founder of Choose Your Own Adventure books said, “experiential learning is the most powerful way for kids, or for anyone, to learn something. It’s not lecturing, it’s experiential—hands-on learning. To a great extent, that’s gaming.” Choose Your Own Adventure books give readers interactivity, multiple-choice, and multiple-endings to make reading less of an academic challenge and more like a game!

Most overnight camps don’t allow video games. But if games are a good thing, why aren’t they allowed at camp?Video games are far from a bad thing, that just don't belong at camp is all.

Summer camp experts Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski tackle that subject in their informative guidebook, ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’. Kids feel good when they win in a game they like. It boosts self-esteem and gives off a sense of ‘mastery’. Video games give kids control. And control is extremely important to kids who live in a world mostly controlled by adults.

Kids are told where to go, what to do, and how to do it all day long, but not in a video game. There the decisions are up to them. In a video game, YOU shoot the attacking zombies, YOU discover the secret exit, YOU defeat the boss. Video games sharpen skills and strengthen enthusiasm.

Camp, however, is a time to get back to nature. Camp does all the same great stuff of boosting skills and enthusiasm—it just does it among natural settings with the chance to physically participate in activities (not just virtually). As ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’ puts it, “The independence and self-esteem you gain won’t be spoiled by electrical blackouts, computer glitches, or soda pop in the joystick.”

You’re sure to survive a few weeks or even a month or more without video games no matter how much you love them. So look forward to a little hiatus with them and get out and enjoy the natural surroundings that you’ll experience at summer camp and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

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