At the Summerland program at Camp Pocono Trails (CPT), we believe that the solution to changing screen overuse habits is to apply a similar methodology used by psychologists to change other habits including smoking or overeating, and a wide array of other behaviors.  Everything we do is based on “best practices” for habit reversal.  We use peer-reviewed scientific research to develop our clinical curriculum and our overall approach.  Our behavioral coaches at camp take a coaching viewpoint on the problem.  We are changing habits and behaviors just like a coach would with a professional athlete.  This way we stay positive in our approach.

Staying positive is key at the Summerland program at CPT. You probably already gathered that from our website.  How many other programs are you going to find such a wide array of fun social events, sports and hobbies, drama and the arts, whitewater rafting, fitness, zip lines, or ropes activities offered?  Our philosophy is that changing behavior can be fun!  We believe it’s much more effective to have a change bubble up from within, not to be hammered down from above.

We also believe that a comprehensive approach works best as well, and scientific research on the outcomes of behavioral programs supports this notion.  What that means on a practical level is that we do many things simultaneously such as providing training on goal setting, we provide education and discussion groups, we work on self-esteem in separate groups, and we introduce campers to other activities as a time replacement.  The parental component is also invaluable to produce positive outcomes, and we know through scientific research how important this piece can be.

What We Provide

Summerland campers at Camp Pocono Trails (CPT) participate in the normal daily routine as other CPT campers with additional support and training which includes:

  • Fun experiences to generate interest in non-screen related activities.  
  • Cognitive-behavioral groups focused on the effects of and count the costs of too much screen time.  Interventions are research-supported and “best practice” for their target objective.  
  • Assistance with creating a healthy daily and weekly schedule and use of an organizer/planner while at camp.
  • Focus on organizational skills, planning, and building self-regulation skills along with the self-esteem, fitness, and health curriculum all CPT campers receive.
  • A full binder of resource materials for campers and parents alike to support the ongoing commitment to change.
  • Four online parent workshops to ensure parents have the tools necessary to support campers back home.
  • Weekly communication on your camper’s progress at camp.

What Parents Can Do

Parents play a critical role in the change process.  Parental involvement has been correlated with positive outcomes of other behaviorally-based programs.  We provide four online workshops for parents where they get the knowledge, training, and support to help their camper be successful back home.

We will provide behavioral contracts for parents to use in order to best support their camper.  We will also role-play and problem-solve with you in order to find solutions to ongoing family conflicts over screen use.

Gaming and social media addiction help for kids is uncharted territory for most parents.  Parents today are tasked with raising the very first generation of kids immersed in a world of technology.  Screens are everywhere.  Kids bring cell phones to school and often have access to games on the bus, in class, in the lunchroom, and back home again until mom or dad returns from work.  For most families, gaming addiction help begins at home and requires a parent to step up a structure for a child to succeed.

It’s easy to get locked into a pattern of policing electronics. The problem with a policing strategy is that it does nothing to help the child learn how to manage electronic use independently.


Transferability of Skills- An Important Aspect of Effective Programs

The ability to transfer or generalize learned strategies and coping skills from one setting to another, called, “transferability of skills” is what makes programs successful.  Parents are rightfully concerned that while a camper might have an amazing time at camp, who is to say that any of the changes will transfer back home?  This is where “transferability of skills” comes into play.

Campers live in comfortable cabins where they interact and socialize with others of similar age. They learn new strategies to deal with boredom, anxiety, anger, and stress with peers that do not involve screens.

We also seek to practice the skills we learn at camp.  When a camper has an “ah-ha!” moment, we immediately discuss how they can use the new skill or insight back home.  We role-play in the group, and in drama class our new skills and create actual muscle memory of our new habits.

Ultimately, we seek to replace manipulative “knee-jerk” responses to fear, anger, and anxiety with healthy pro-social responses.

At camp, all Summerland campers at CPT are required to keep a Behavior Planning Journal (BPJ). They learn how to track their time and structure their day.

Campers learn new ways of copying, strategies to deal with boredom, develop new skills and interests, and learn how to structure and organize their day using the BPJ. These skills, interests, and strategies are all transferrable back home. Parents learn how to encourage their children to continue down a healthy path while participating in the online Parent Workshop during the summer.

Family Components Include:

Family Workshops

Parents participate in four, 60 to 90-minute online workshops during the summer. Each workshop covers a different topic.

During the online family workshop, parents learn how to create contracts to monitor and limit technology use.  After benefiting from the parent workshop, parents have a research-supported understanding of what consequences technology overuse can have on teens. Additionally, they are armed with new strategies to help support their camper back home.

Topics presented include:

Workshop 1: Introduction and mission

Workshop 2: The technology epidemic

Workshop 3: Video games and social media: the good, the bad, the ugly

Workshop 4: The transition home

Parents can capitalize on the technology pause during the camp to reset screen-related rules when the camper returns home. This is a good time to “clean house” and prepare to support your camper’s newfound commitments when they return home.

Behavior Planning Journal (BPJ)

The best way to get your child to use their BPJ at home is to get all family members to keep a journal. In this photo, the camper, mom, and dad all keep their journals out in the center of the house for other family members to see. The camper has their day and screen time pre-planned and, along with a Behavior Contract, the camper now has the structure in place in ensure screen time compliance.

Frequent Updates

Parents are informed about their child’s progress through email or phone call updates that occur weekly. Dr. Bishop, founder of the Summerland at CPT curriculum, emails or calls parents on a regular basis to let them know what progress their child is making and the topics covered in the group.

Parent Guide

Parents also receive a copy of the Summerland at CPT Guide with a special parent section. This resource educates parents on topics related to technology overuse, parenting strategies, and example behavioral contracts. Information on how the BPJ works and how to best support your camper is also provided.