Have our teens lost connection with one another?
I was sitting at a coffee shop in NYC having breakfast a few days ago, and my booth was next to three mothers who were all talking about their teenage children. I did a little (actually a lot) of eavesdropping. They all had high school and college aid children and were sharing stories about them. Their children were excelling at school, getting into great colleges, doing well in sports, etc., but there was this underlying theme that they did not seem to be having much fun. They were staying in their dorm rooms on weekends, or on their couches at home, and spending most of their time watching television or staring at their phones. It sounded like their children were having trouble connecting with their friends in ways that were really satisfying. So they were spending a lot of time alone.
When I started a camp for teenagers about fourteen years ago, I had this idea that I could create a place where teenage boys would feel safe enough to relax, be themselves, and have a lot of fun. When I described my vision to a wise therapist, she said, “Oh, you’re creating a camp about connection.” I didn’t know exactly what she meant at the time, but all these years later, I think she was spot on. I think our camp really makes it easy for teenagers to connect with one another. We do it by creating a space where teenagers feel safe enough to honestly express how they feel and to make themselves vulnerable. Little did I know my boys camp would be 65% girls, but that has worked out great as well.
I don’t know why it seems harder for teenagers to connect with one another these days. I’m going to be 60 next month, and I don’t remember exactly what I felt like as a teenager. I do remember having to go to my friends houses if I wanted to spend time with them. Maybe that made it easier to create a good connection. Maybe today I would be staying home and texting them all day from my bedroom. Anyway, I’m glad I get to spend four weeks each summer at a camp that helps teenagers, and staff as well, to connect with each other in supportive, healthy, and maybe most of all, fun ways!
And we’d love to help you or your teen find connection, too. We’re only an hour away from New York City, and we have an open house coming up this Sunday. What have you got to lose?