One question many parents are asking today is how do I prepare my child now to be a successful adult in the future?
Our world is changing at such a rapid pace that it is a challenge to know how to best guide our children for the future. There have been many articles written about the Millennial Generation, the generation of people born from 1981-1996, and how they have approached the workforce, volunteerism and even their personal lives.
However, less literature discusses Generation Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2015. As a camp director, Generation Z is my generation of focus as my campers and counselors are all of this generation. Therefore, the success of my camp rests upon understanding what compels, motivates and inspires this generation.
The Center for Generational Kinetics, a leading researcher for Generation Z, published a study in the Fall of 2018 where they found that over half of Generation Z uses their smartphone for 5 or more hours a day and within that, 26% use their smartphone for 10 or more hours each day.
As a director of NCSY Summer’s Camp Maor, a performing arts overnight camp for girls ages 9-16, I found the statistics on girls even more alarming. The study notes that females have a much stronger attraction to using social media then the boys their age and report longer periods of time on these social media outlets. The researchers conclude that “females are more immersed and therefore more susceptible to comparing themselves and their lives to what they see on social media, and even gauging their happiness and self-worth accordingly.”
As an immersive, performing arts, child-centered summer camp, we at NCSY Camp Maor have been working to shift the connection between social media and self-esteem. Our goal is to instill self-esteem and confidence around their actual abilities and, more importantly, their accomplishments. Through our “success breeds success” program, campers gain confidence through a series of graduated achievements that include setting goals and working to accomplish these milestones throughout the summer. They are strongly encouraged to take these lessons and newly discovered skills back to their schools and communities.
Entering our sixth summer, we are seeing the fruits of our labor as our campers are now returning to camp as valuable members of our staff.
Chana Silver, a camper in 2015, returned in the summer of 2017 as a counselor. Following Chana’s first summer as a camper, she returned home and ran a one week performing arts backyard camp where she utilized what she learned at Maor to give the campers a fun experience and even direct a performance at the end of the week. She also directed her school play, “Twelve Angry Women,” in her senior year of high school, a show which she said “truly tested [her] abilities and was a smashing success.”
Adding to Chana’s feelings about what she gained in Camp Maor, Chava Schapiro, a camper for four years who is returning this summer as a staff member, shares that at the age of 11, she was very shy, but loved the performing arts and found that her shyness stopped her from fully expressing herself like she wanted to.
Chava explains, “I loved singing and acting more than anything in the world and Maor was the first place that ever took me in and cherished my skills even though they were extremely lacking. More than anything else, what I got from Camp Maor was confidence. I was shy and trembling before I went, and now I have the confidence to stand in front of tons of people and perform without the slightest doubt that this is what I am meant to do. Because of Maor, I had the courage to convince a local theater group to start all-girls classes. I want to thank Camp Maor for all that it taught me and the confidence it instilled in me.”
NCSY Camp Maor is a place where all Orthodox Jewish girls can come together to find their true self by learning new skills, committing to the process and working as a collaborative team. After the summer they can use these skills to lead and create and not just watch life scroll by on a screen.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.