Skill Building and Habit Formation

We help through behavior coaching to address screen time overuse and everything that goes along with it including anger, social withdraw, and family conflict. Summerland Camps are unique in that we are the first summer camp to focus on the overuse of screen time activities.  We are a research supported, scientifically based gaming addiction program which helps through skill building and habit formation.  At our core, we coach our participants on how to build new habits, how to establish healthy goals, and how to ensure your daily actions meet your desired life goals.

The following are broad focus areas we target at Summerland Camps (click on a tab to read more):

At Summerland Camps, we build motivation effectively due to our fun and engaging approach.  We believe people only change when motivated from within.  Therefore, we have to get our campers on board quickly with the prospect of a brighter future.  We have several ways of achieving this objective- such as using positive peer influence.

When campers start planning behaviors to meet their goals and then start making these daily goals, it becomes motivating and self-sustaining.  It’s a snowball effect.

Setting goals is a major focus at camp.

It’s our experience that campers just need to see a little initial success to get motivated and really commit to substantial behavioral change.  The power of a positive peer culture helps achieve this objective as well.

We also know that substantial goals are more motivating that small goals.  This seems counter-intuitive to many, but it’s absolutely true.  In a study on a commitment to walking, people who set longer walking goals were actually more likely to keep their commitment.  We help our campers set appropriate goals and break them down into daily tasks.

The Behavioral Planning Journal is a critical component to our change process.  While we do think technological advances in behavioral tracking such as wearable activity monitors are useful, we teach our camper tried-and-true methods of behavioral tracking.  This includes good old fashioned paper and pencil journaling and the use of a weekly planner.

Journaling is a life skill – not only for planning but tracking behaviors as well.

We also utilize pedometers for daily activity tracking.  Planning our behaviors each week includes writing down our daily goals over a 7-day span.  We plan our exercise for the week, along with our predetermined study time, time for chores and personal hygiene, cleaning our rooms, laundry, and anything else that is important in our lives.

At Summerland Camps, we learn how to not just let the day get away from us.  We learn that this is the problem with unlimited video games and social media.  We can’t just sit down for untold hours watching TV, Youtube Videos or Netflix.  We have goals in life, and if we don’t plan our day, we are letting life just slip by.

Developing strategies help campers become better students and more self-regulated in their behaviors.

Developing strategies (also called, “life hacks”) is just plain fun.  As we learn about ourselves, we can develop more appropriate strategies for our betterment.  Some of us are more visual and may need written reminders to stay on track.  Others of us more auditory- or even kinesthetic in our learning approach.  Developing the right strategy for behavioral change begins with knowing yourself.

We also discuss developing strategies for getting back on track.  Falling off our plan and getting away from our goals is a fact of life.  It will happen, so we need to prepare for it.  In this way, our response to getting off track has been pre-planned.

Putting off studying for an exam in lieu of staying up all night playing video games is not the end of the world.  It may result in a bad grade.  Worst case we have to re-take the class.  But it’s not a reason to abandon what we’ve learned while at Summerland Camps.  This is just a small sampling of what we discuss at camp.

Practicing skills is what it’s all about, and it’s the ultimate value of Summerland Camps.  We practice new coping skills, interaction skills, anger management skills, and social skills “in the moment.”

We love to hear camper’s success stories look for healthy role models for counselors in future sessions.

Summerland Camps was created the program out of frustration for ineffective outpatient behavior change for issues related to digital media overuse, depression, and social isolation.  All too often outpatient behavior change results in wasted time with little to no significant gains.  The ideal time to do behavior change is “in the moment” when a child is upset, frustrated, anxious, or exhibiting a less than ideal reaction to the environment.

Walking the path of success creates muscle memory and eventually becomes the new knee-jerk repose to stressful situations if effective and if practiced enough.  The best way to create these learning experiences is in a structured program like Summerland Camps where we can intervene “in the moment” to practice new skills and to make these skills habits that transfer back to the home environment.

Effect of Digital Media Overuse

Gaming overuse habits can lead to social withdraw, depression, and have an effect on school and job performance.

Most parents that contact us have yet to see the final toll excessive screen time will ultimately bring if left unaddressed.  Our parents do however see their child losing interest in socializing outside the house, and other normal childhood activities.  We commonly hear about increased family tension, arguments related to technology use, and angry outbursts.

The most common co-occurring issues we see with technology overuse include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in sports and hobbies
  • Defiance
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Social Anxiety

Excessive use of the screen based activity has been linked to a variety of negative psychosocial consequences. Kuss & Griffiths’ (2012) study published in Brain Sciences titled, “Internet and Gaming Addiction: A Systematic Literature Review of Neuroimaging Studies” describes the overwhelming clinical evidence that excessive screen activity users experience a number of biopsychosocial consequences including mental disorders such as somatization, obsessive-compulsive and other anxiety disorders, depression, and dissociation, as well as personality traits and pathology, such as introversion and psychoticism.

Gaming Addiction Treatment

While gaming addiction helps through behavior coaching is a major focus of the camp, so are other forms of digital media including social media overuse, general computer activities, iPhone/Android and handheld device overuse, and related electronic media overuse habits.  The commonality is that today when young people isolate they tend to gravitate to screen time activities.  Unfortunately, simply giving up technology is not a realistic option.

Social Withdraw and More

Digital media overuse does not happen in a vacuum.  Generally, there are other issues present that need to be addressed.  These issues can include depression, defiance, poor social skills. and poor school performance.  If left unaddressed, school refusal can be present as well.  It’s important to address these issues early.  As with any other medical issue- early intervention is critical.

Please be aware we do not accept campers with a history of physical violence towards peers (verbal outbursts okay), running away, or current substance abuse.