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NOV. 13, 2018

Disconnect To Reconnect

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Imagine a place where you are able to live fully in the present, where you can focus on your surroundings right at that very moment, without distractions.

If you are a student at The Outdoor Academy, this is your reality every day for four months.

Freedom from technological devices can be very rare in this day and age. At The Outdoor Academy, students are granted this freedom, which allows students the ability to fully embrace time with their peers in face-to-face conversation, and to gain deeper experiences and knowledge during their semester at OA.

According to the Pew Research Center article Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018, “smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.”

Ever since it was founded in 1995, The Outdoor Academy has been a technology-free haven, allowing young people to experience the natural world and interact with their peers without the interference of technology. We believe that all young people can benefit from a semester at OA. With varying socio-economic backgrounds, as well as varying experiences and connections to the natural world, it may seem that a semester at OA is more accessible to some. However, we strive to make the life-changing experience at The Outdoor Academy possible for any young person who is interested. Through the fundraising efforts of our community, we were able to award scholarships to 53% of students at The Outdoor Academy in 2017.

We are proud to provide the space for a group of young people every semester to unplug from technology as a way to further and more profoundly connect with the natural world. This reconnection to the natural world builds confidence, strengthens relationships, forms a connection with the outdoors, and cultivates community. One of the primary reasons students are able to accomplish these important life-altering skills is because their energy is not lost in technological distractions.

The one exception to OA’s technology-free campus is the communal phone for students. The shared landline phone is available for students to call home, and it is up to the students to monitor and allocate the phone usage. This limited access to technology allows students to check in with loved ones without interfering with the students’ time at The Outdoor Academy.

As smartphones and other technological devices continue to saturate daily life (especially among teens), The Outdoor Academy continues to hold true to its founding principle to provide a space for young people to grow and experience the wonders of the natural world in an environment free from technology. Strong community support and lasting partnerships allow the OA experience to reach more and more young people, all who are able to learn and flourish at The Outdoor Academy in its technology-free and community-rich learning environment.

 

By Camille Wick, Donor and Alumni Relations Coordinator