Author David Sax explores a variety of industries – music, publishing, education – where analog products and solutions have held fast despite repeated claims of their demise in a digital world in his book The Revenge of Analog: Real Things And Why They Matter.
But it’s a visit to his old summer camp, Camp Walden in Ontario, that serves as the perfect book-end to the book’s premise. Recounting a recent trip to the camp in the book’s epilogue, Sax notes the camp’s technology policy and how it has preserved so much of what he experienced there as a camper.
“Very little had changed since I left Walden half a lifetime ago,” he writes. “The buildings looked the same; the water had the same metallic taste; the crickets chirped the same staccato tune. Towels and clothes still hung from the front of each cabin’s laundry line, and music blared on loud-speakers throughout camp, announcing the next activity. Boys sprinted from place to place, seemingly for no reason other than they could, and girls made up songs while braiding one another’s hair. Campers still read Archie comics and made macrame bracelets. They even dressed in the same outfits: Teva sandals, baggy Roots sweatpants, college T-shirts. The conversations I overheard could have been plucked from any summer over the past half-century.”
Sax goes on to share the camp director’s thoughts on preserving a technology-free environment and how summer camps like Walden illustrate the importance of in this case, analog friendships, in summing up the entire premise of his book. Summer camp, like vinyl records, physical books, Moleskin notebooks and hands-on classroom instruction, Sax posits, creates something tangible that young people and their parents are too often deprived of in a digital environment: something real, genuine and long-lasting.