I'm going to go a bit non-tech in this week's post, since I just got back from a four day cub scouts camping trip to Camp Freeland Leslie, a boy scout camp in Wisconsin, where we attended Webelos Adventure Camp. Nowadays it's so easy to get caught up in technology and always being connected that we forget to sit back and enjoy nature and the basics. Playing games on your iPhone is great, but the feeling you get from looking at a sky chock full of stars is something you just can't explain to your kids unless they experience it. Solving a puzzle on your iPad doesn't compare to solving the problem of still having fun, while camping outside in a day full of rain. The freedom we had as kids, going out to play, returning by dusk, is next to impossible to reproduce. Camping in a nature-filled, safe environment with scouts comes close, since, as parents we were able to allow our boys to venture away from our line of sight, as long as they took a buddy.
Technology has snuck into some of the scout camping—the Ranger uses weather radar to monitor the weather for storm conditions. The Trading Post had a cell-phone charging area behind the counter. They even had an area where parents could access wifi on the campgrounds. But most of us put away our smartphones (except to check the weather forecasts) to enjoy basics of nature. Listening to the wind blow through the pine trees, hiking down a steep hill to the lake filled with wildlife, or the beauty of a meadow full of wildflowers is something to be experienced first hand.
Attending a campfire filled with old and new campfire songs and skits was just as entertaining as plopping in front of the TV. Shooting off model rockets and racing to retrieve them is nothing you can experience online. Learning to shoot a bow and arrow takes a lot more hand-eye coordination (and strength) than a Wii game. Even playing human foosball was much more entertaining than the table version. Plus, you can do all this amidst fresh air, sunny skies, and with friends. My son had a smile glued to his face the whole trip and he didn't touch his DSi once (we didn't bring it, but he didn't complain that it wasn't there).
Personally, I enjoyed not checking daily sales, answering customer service (my husband was delegated that job while I was gone), nor watching the AppStore features update on Thursday. All the things I did as a Girl Scout came rushing back, from the names of plants and constellations, to the words and melodies of the camp songs. The camaraderie of the parents (each boy attends with an adult) as we learned new things (some parents were new campers) and taught our sons old things, was very fulfilling.
All in all, taking a break from technology to enjoy the basics in life, and getting back to nature, is something we all should try to do every so often. It cleanses our pallet and allows us to approach, from a better perspective, the daily tasks at hand. From the viewpoint of an over-worked independent software developer, four days camping in the woods with your son and your friends provides a much needed break from the high speed of technology.