Saturday, July 19, 2008

Camp Virtualpolitik

In popular discourses about parenting, the terms "hover mother" or "helicopter parents" get applied to anxious moms and dads who tend to micromanage their children's lives and give them little privacy, distance, or incentive for individual exploration, failure, or risk-taking. At the university at which I work, colleagues frequently complain that parents want to continue to be advocates for their children in academic probation or cheating cases long after this intervention would be appropriate, given the fact that these students are now legally adults.

And, yet, in summer, children are expected to go away, and there is even a certain amount of competitiveness in the affluent Westside, where I live, to send them as far away as possible to show their exceptionalism. "Oh, Jimmy is in England at the summer school for spies." "Oh, Susie is in South America doing forensics on ancient mummies." (These aren't made up examples, by the way, although I have changed the names.)

Blogging to the rescue. To give parents a sense of contact with the lives of their children, many camps now regularly maintain blogs with news and photos of the campers, so that parents can search for details about their loved ones. For example, the Rockbrook Girls Summer Camp
shows campers busy with activities and updates on facilities at the camp. Many of these blogs require user names and passwords, however, in order to protect the privacy of the minors in attendance.

In contrast, Campus Pride Blogs Out, emphasizes individual expression rather than documenting events for an institution. In this exercise, gay and lesbian college students will be writing about their experiences at the annual camp for "GenQ" students who will be learning about techniques for activism and outreach to their peers.

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