My friend Lacy over at SimpleSurber wrote a few weeks ago about her going “off the grid” for a while. I totally agreed with her and felt like it was necessary for me to do a little digital detox as well. Anytime I go to camp, I’m able to unplug as much as I want–the wifi is only in a few buildings and the signal isn’t great. So it’s up to you how much time you want to spend trying to connect. So if you have been wondering where I’ve been, that’s it. I know, you’ve heard a lot about Camp Mikell and I won’t bore you with how great and amazing it was THIS time around. That part of it doesn’t usually change.
One of the things I enjoyed most? Being unplugged. And let me tell you…it was really hard. There were so many times where my instinct was “I need to look at my phone”. I was sitting in a LONG meeting at camp, and pulled out my phone. I wasn’t connecting to the internet and a friend sitting next to me simply said, “put that away. be present.” and I immediately understood what they meant. They weren’t being mean or telling me what to do. They were saying, “we don’t come to camp often and we don’t see these folks as much as we like. enjoy it while you’re here”. And they were right.
It was hard for me to not check my email because I have a lot of new and exciting things in the works, but I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. So no email was hard. And no blogging was really hard. I felt like people were coming to look and there was no new content. So often blogs start and drop off, and I’m not letting that happen. What else? I love Instagram and Pinterest and felt like I was missing out on new content. It’s silly, I know. But it’s true. Like Lacy said, “maybe I have “FOMO“, and maybe I do too. Well, actually, I’m pretty positive I do. I hate missing out on anything. Parties. Meetings. Any event, really. It’s the extrovert in me. I need that time!
But that friend was right. I don’t get to be at camp often enough, and I needed to unplug and enjoy it. We spent the week at camp doing WORK and helping fix up the place. It’s a camp session called appropriately, “WORK CAMP” where high schoolers come up as campers and older folks like myself come up as part of the “Dean’s Staff” to lead the work groups and the program part of each day. So I spent the week doing manual labor which was so fun. I love HGTV and all, and I always try to lead a project that will give me new skills. This week, I removed and replaced windows in the old chapel. Who knew I could do that? It was really cool to learn that new skill! We had a great group of kids helping us with that and others groups spent the week on projects like painting, clearing brush, gardening, splitting wood, building a deck, building a retaining wall, re-paving the roads…really cool stuff. The best part of it is that when the kids come to work camp, they have to turn in their cell phones. It’s hard for a lot of them to not be instagramming and texting, but none of them regret it. Most of them want to unplug at camp…which is really awesome.
When I was in my Master’s program, I did all of my thesis work on kids not spending adequate time outside and in nature, and about the pitfalls of this wired-generation. Perhaps leading to mental health issues and physical health issues (hello obesity epidemic), it’s no secret that kids don’t as much time “exploring” and “playing” outside. But camp makes them do that. They worked in the dirt and worked with their hands each morning. They developed new skills and worked alongside their peers, talking to each other instead of texting. They sit and eat all meals together with no technology present. They sing songs and play 4 square and they’re in HIGH SCHOOL. They swim, play frisbee, play cards, play dodge ball, play guitar, perform skits, and it all comes from their imagination. No Pinning. No Instagramming. No Facebook drama. None of that is present. And it’s such a secret and sacred time for these kids. The truth about it? THEY LOVE IT. They form the closest relationships they’ll ever have at camp. Just like David and I did. Why? Because they talk to each other. They listen. They are face to face with each other. Making friends, working, hiking, swimming in the creek…it’s just what the doctor ordered. For them and for me.
So was it hard to unplug and be away from my laptop and my phone? Yes. But was it worth it? Without a doubt.
Want to read more about this topic? Check out some of these other links.
Wanna read more from the NY Times about Adult Summer Camps to Break the Tech Addiction–read this.
Heard of Nature Deficit Disorder? check out this book.
Are you a mommy zombie?