This past weekend I (and two other brave souls) had the pleasure of taking a group of middle school girls camping. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we had warm sunshine, beautiful skies, cozy campfires, and unfulfilled threats of heavy rain. Usually, when we camp from Friday through Sunday, we have many activities planned. However, as the girls get older they take more ownership of the weekend’s activities. There was much that we could have squeezed into our long, unscheduled day on Saturday, but what the girls wanted to do (really, starting as soon as we arrived on Friday afternoon) was hike around while the leaves danced on the branches in beautiful hues of yellow, orange, and red. Listen to leaves crunch and twigs snap underfoot as they marched along, chatting, screaming, or singing songs ranging from pop to Broadway. (When I say “Broadway” yes I mean Hamilton.) They climbed inside a giant tree which had strangled the original tree and grew as a shell around it, they gazed out over a picturesque river, and goofed around on hammocks as they rocked each other, somewhat perilously, until their stomachs felt unsettled. For the most part, the girls left their phones behind. Or if they brought them, they weren’t on them. I consider it a victory.
We all value time spent out of doors, away from computers, phones, and other “to-do demands,” but it is often hard to tear ourselves away from technology. So we like to think that we did a good thing by getting out there this past weekend. We like to think that we offered a few days away from the hustle and bustle and stress that are part of our everyday lives (even teenagers’ lives), so the girls could skip through the woods, throw rocks into the river, climb into a tree, and swing on a hammock. We are so occupied with work, keeping up with school activities, children’s activities, friends, neighbors, paperwork, emails, phone calls, texts, and other assorted demands that sometimes we do not make that small effort to go outside, tear our eyes away from our screens to take in the majestic view nature offers us if we are only willing to take it in.
We all know how incredible technology is. Our phones are so mind-blowingly sophisticated! I imagine describing a smart phone to a teenage version of myself, and the concept is so amazingly futuristic that my teenage self leans in to hear more, on the edge of her childhood bed. But, it’s important that we show our kids how to appreciate the kind of childhood that many of us enjoyed: unplugged.
Now stop reading this blog on your phone (after you click “like” and write a comment) and get out there into the unplugged world!