Pre-Camp Email #7 — Reminder About the Blackout Period

Date published: May 3rd, 2017 | By Matthew

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Hello 2017 Parents!

I am writing to remind you about the blackout period that will occur at the beginning of each session.

The blackout period applies to all farmers (we call our campers “farmers”). It takes place at the beginning of each session. The blackout period means that farmers will not have access to their smartphones or other connected devices, nor will they have the ability to call home (barring emergency).

The purpose of this blackout period is to hasten your child’s emotional transition to camp. A successful transition to camp requires an emotional leap on the part of the camper. The earlier your child makes that leap the better it will be for everyone.

We want your child to begin digging in immediately. This means learning names, shaking hands, and having those initial conversations. Smartphones get in the way of all this.

For Session 1 and Session 2, the blackout period lasts one week. Farmers get their phones back Sunday evening.

For Session 3 / MiniCamp, the blackout period lasts five days. Farmers get their phones back on Friday evening.

We will collect everyone’s devices on Arrival Day. We will put the devices in Ziploc bags. We will use a log to ensure each device is returned to its proper owner.

Near the end of the blackout period, we will begin talking about our technology policy, the intention behind it, and our rules. For example, farmers are not allowed to use their phones during activities or crews, but farmers are allowed to use their phones during meals and free time.

We make it clear that farmers are accepting full responsibility if a phone gets trampled by a goat or is somehow damaged or lost.

Farmers can collect their devices at the end of the blackout period. Some farmers end up leaving their devices with us for the duration of the summer. Many farmers don’t even bring one to camp. The claim “I’m the only one without a phone” has never been true.

It may sound surprising, but we’re in our fifth year of this now and it’s often peers (not counselors) who are regulating device usage. Remember, we are teaching direct communication skills. So, for example, if Johnny is on his phone throughout dinner, Scotty might say, “Johnny, I felt frustrated today when we were talking and you disappeared into your phone.” A comment like that carries more weight coming from a friend than from a Big Kid (we call our counselors “Big Kids”).

The blackout period can be an adjustment for parents, too. You just sent your child to camp. You’re wondering how he’s doing, if he’s having fun, if he’s making friends, if he’s remembering to wear sunscreen, and so on. It can be hard, we know that. That's why we will be in contact with you throughout the blackout period, as often as you’d like, to give you updates. You can rest assured that if there’s any concern we will contact you immediately. If you’re really struggling, you can always call us and talk to a director.

If you have any questions at all, please contact me at 717-567-3349 or We so appreciate your trust in this matter.

All the best,


Matthew T. Smith
Owner / Director
Longacre Leadership Camp

Here are all the links to the Pre-Camp Email Series and CampMinder.