Friday, August 07, 2009


Traditionally when children are sent off to summer camp, the channel of communication narrows to sporadic postcards and letters of the kind parodied by Alan Sherman in 1963 in the "Camp Granada" song. Now, however, ubiquitous communication devices and computer networks make it possible for parents to garner far more information about their children's camp experiences, which isn't always good news for camp counselors and troop leaders.

Recently, when a flu outbreak took half of my younger son's boy scout troop out of commission, we were informed via e-mail about unexpected sickness that would cause a quarter of the troop to come home early, since the scouts wouldn't be up for the rigorous backpacking trip that was supposed to conclude their outdoor experience. Although parents were assured by the two medical doctors in attendance that none of the children required hospitalization or intravenous fluids, electronic networks were soon abuzz with panicked parents. The e-mail message also includes a harsh scolding of the scouts and their families who violated the camp policy against bringing digital devices.

The leaders of the troop are quite bothered by the spreading of rumors around the troop internet using information transmitted (inappropriately) by scouts with cell phones calling their parents. These rumors are far from fact and to spread that inaccurate information only scares parents who want to know what's happening to their sons.

Digital cameras, however, were sanctioned for use in the annual photography contest.

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