When I was a kid, I went to camp.
For kids growing up in the suburbs of Long Island, it was a natural right of passage. Everyone went to camp.
In my case, I went to Camp Seneca, in Pawling, New York, where middle-class Jewish kids from The 5 Towns on Long Island and Scarsdale pretended to be Indians. We were assigned bunks in buildings called Mohican and Iroquois.
Our days were spent playing softball, (which I was terrible at) and waterskiing, (which I was somewhat better at). In the evenings we had movie nights or once a week, socials, with the girls from the girls camp, just down the road.
For many years, I wrote and published (printed on an old Gestetner printer that you poured ink into), The Daily Plunge, the camp's daily newspaper.
That was about the extent of 'media studies' at Camp Seneca.
Mostly, the idea was to get outside and do lots of sports and exercises.
Now, it seems, the in the age of Social Media, softball and basketball and probably even Color War have all gone out the window.
Welcome to YouTube Camp.
Yes, YouTube Camp, where, for a mere $1,000 for one week, your kid can learn to be a YouTube star.
Ed-tech company iD Tech offers week-long camps at colleges nationwide, and puts video cameras in the hands of kids who want to create vlogs, video game walk-throughs, "safe but funny" fail videos, product reviews, and short music-dubbed clips for platforms like TikTok.
Personally, I think you could do a lot better on TheVJ for just $14.95 a month. I am happy to sign up your kids, but then they would be home with you. I think our parents were delighted to send us off to camp as soon as possible.
Before Camp Seneca, my parents shipped me and my sister Amy off to Camp Airy and Camp Louise in Maryland. I think my sister was about 5 years old the first summer. It was an experience.
Going beyond the question of whether it is healthy for a kid to spend their summer hunched over a laptop cutting video, as opposed to out in the sunshine throwing a ball around, the YouTube summer camp raises another issue, of just how old someone should be before they have their own YouTube Channel.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal deals with this one:
YouTube posting is intended for people 13 and older due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, designed to protect children from the hordes of internet data collectors. YouTube parent Google says that to sign in to the video site, people must have a Google account and be at least 13. For younger children, Alphabet Inc.’s Google provides the parent-managed Family Link service. None of the camps are directly affiliated with YouTube.
I don't want to seem like a Killjoy, but it does seem to me a kind of a tragic waste of childhood.
There is more than enough time to make videos. Put down the damned phone, go outside and have some fun.