By Marijean “MJ” Parry
In many ways, we are lucky that COVID-19 struck in the year 2020 and not 2000. Facetime, Zoom, Snapchat, Microsoft Teams, Backyard Games, Skype, Facebook Messenger – all of these have become ways of connecting with friends and family for the past year. Imagine how much harder it would have been to spend time with people we love without all of these forums.
Of course, we’ve all experienced those moments when the audio is scratchy or garbled or the lighting that makes someone look green, backlit or is so low you can’t really see their expression; or probably the worst… the dreaded spinning circle and frozen image when the internet slows down. So, while our ability to connect virtually has been invaluable, it can’t replace REAL facetime.
Summer camp is all about real facetime, whether it is spending nine hours together every day for a week or 24 hours a day for seven weeks, it immerses our children and young people in deep, authentic interaction with their new or long-time friends and incredible counselors. It’s the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their joy or pain or know from their expression that they truly understand what you’re saying.
Real facetime allows you to hear those subtle things – a small shift in tone or volume, the emphasis on certain words, a sigh, a catch in the voice, or the smallest of giggles. Being physically together for face time creates the connection of body language – leaning into a conversation, “hearing” the story through gestures, and the oh so important ability to high five in celebration or put a hand on a shoulder for comfort. Sitting in silent face time is much better in person than virtually and while I know I have laughed long and hard on Zoom, it is still not the same as laughing in person with someone you love.
Camp is the perfect place for REAL facetime and after this year, it is more important than ever for everyone’s health and happiness.
Marijean “MJ” Parry is Executive Director of Fleur de Lis Camp (www.fleurdeliscamp.org), an overnight camp for girls in Fitzwilliam, NH.