Unplug for Adventure: Why Broadreach is phone-free
By: Broadreach HQ February 1, 2023 High School Adventures, Middle School, Parents
At Broadreach, we strive to create programs that allow students to break out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in the moment. That’s why Broadreach adventures are a cell phone-free experience. Social media, Zoom, and constant virtual communication are part of our everyday lives these days, especially for teens. A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that 97% of teens reported using the internet every day, with nearly half saying they are almost constantly connected. Let’s be honest… the constant connectivity can be exhausting!
The American Psychological Association stresses the importance of building in time for teenagers to unplug and connect with peers face-to-face. A Broadreach adventure is an opportunity for students to take a break from screens while also building independence and confidence. For teens – and their parents!- who are used to almost constant communication, this can be a bit of an adjustment. However, once they are sailing on the sea, observing wildlife, or watching the sunset with their crew, their phone won’t even cross their mind.
Will I be able to talk with my student?
Although students will turn their phones in to their instructors upon arrival, we do allow and encourage students to bring a phone for travel day. Upon arrival at their destination, students will make a quick call home to check in before handing over their phones. Instructors will keep phones in a safe place and return them as needed for weekly calls home.
Don’t worry! You’ll get other updates throughout your student’s program in addition to weekly calls home. We publish a daily trip update blog post written by a different student each day. We also upload photos to a shared album so family and friends can follow along at home! You’ll hear all about what activities and excursions the group has done that day, get a glimpse of the scenery and wildlife that the group is experiencing, and see the smiling faces of your student and their new friends. Lori, a Broadreach parent, says, “I loved how Broadreach kept us as parents informed on what our kids were doing. Every day, we would get an update written by one of the kids along with photos. It was really well done!” Importantly, our instructors always have cell phones on hand to communicate with Broadreach HQ and with parents in case of an emergency.
How will my student take pictures?
You may be wondering how students take photos during their trip. Although instructors take photos daily, we know how fun and important it is for students to take their own pictures as well. We recommend going back to the basics with a digital camera or investing in an adventure-friendly camera such as a Go-Pro! These are awesome ways students can document their travels phone-free.
What about music?
Our students have always loved having access to music on Broadreach trips. We’ve found that having access to a music player can enhance the Broadreach experience! Sharing favorite songs, singing along together and unwinding with a good playlist with their new friends is a bonding experience. Fortunately, there are ways students can enjoy music without their cell phones. Do you have an old iPod laying around or shoved in the back of a drawer? Dig it out, charge it up and if it still works, your student is welcome to bring it on program. If you don’t happen to have an old MP3 player, there are modern devices that can download music to enjoy connection-free. For example, the Campfire Player is a completely Broadreach-friendly device with the ability to download music straight from Spotify, Amazon Music, or Apple Music.
Living in the moment
The first couple of hours away from their cell phones, students may feel out of touch or like they’re missing something. However, once they start bonding with their group, trying new things, and breathing the fresh air, they won’t miss their phones. In fact, they may even realize how freeing it is to take a phone detox. They’ll be able to focus on the present instead of worrying about what they might be missing out on at home. In the past, we have found that phones can cause or exacerbate homesickness and prevent students from truly engaging with their group. Wendy, a Broadreach parent, says that her son, “came back ‘unlocked’ from electronics, happy, and more engaged and in touch with the world.” We hope students (and their families!) embrace the challenge of unplugging from technology and experiencing their Broadreach adventure to the fullest.