THE BLOG

Limited opportunities but great potential

06/17/2010 02:45 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, young people average more than 53 hours a week using entertainment media. This means that 8- to 18-year-olds spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes each day watching TV, playing video games, using a computer or cell phone and listening to music on a portable player. At the risk of showing my age, I'll admit that I didn't play with these 'toys' growing up, because they hadn't been invented yet! I spent my days playing baseball and football with my friends.

I've heard for years that kids aren't spending enough time outside anymore, and that we're too dependent on electronic devices for daily life and entertainment. In Boston, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries runs the Goodwill Fresh Air Camp to give young people a break from a daily life in which they are surrounded by the gadgets that have become so ubiquitous in their lives. While they are at the Fresh Air Camp, boys and girls ages 8 to 16 can participate in a myriad of activities, from hiking to hip hop dancing, swimming to arts and crafts, and many others. The focus is on academics, recreation and leadership.

Jamal Leary attended this camp for more than half his life. He is now a 15-year-old counselor in training at Fresh Air Camp, located on 500 acres of woodlands, fields, and ponds in South Athol, MA.

"This camp has helped me in many ways. It taught me how to be more independent," he says. "It's a whole new experience being away from home, and doing and seeing things I thought I would never have done or seen."

Jamal credits the camp with helping him become a better role model and stronger leader. He loves meeting different people each year and the support he gets from staff at his 'home away from home.' He says camp is preparing him for his future career and the real world. You can't get this kind of real work prep from your cell phone.

Hear Jamal's story in his own words.