July 12, 2021
One of the interesting parts about being in nature is – well – that you must deal with nature. This point might seem painfully obvious, but it also makes a difference. Sometimes a huge difference. Please let me explain.
Of course, we all know about one fantastic aspect of being “in nature”. We are tech free.
More importantly, we are “tech free and happy”. I like to picture all the campers’ mobile devices sharing the following message at the end of the week: “you had zero minutes of screen time with zero bytes of data – this is a 100% decline in usage.” In my mind, I picture the phone as a mildly panicked person that continues with more comments.
“Seriously! Where are you? What are you doing? Don’t you know you cannot live without me? I am confused. What if everyone did this? We are going to have some serious words later young woman/man!”
Another odd aspect of being outside is increased exercise. Sure, some of our campers are serious athletes, but virtually no one is actively moving 8-10 hours each day. We all feel better and stronger as the term progresses. I know I am always in my best shape during camp.
I like the fact that we have no lights in the cabins so that the campers have the chance to embrace their natural circadian rhythms. Humans are meant to sleep when it is dark and rise with the sun. In our world of electricity and modern lighting, we fool ourselves into an alternative cycle. While this may be necessary for school and work, it is healthy to embrace our natural cycles, even if for just 2-3 weeks.
Finally, weather is something that you must keep an eye on. When I lived in Houston, I went from one covered garage to another and never had to deal with rain or heat or cold. My life was insulated from the vagaries of weather. I could have been in almost any city – Chicago, LA, Miami, Cincinnati – and had the same experience. Here, however, weather matters.
Rain makes us wet (as in the Torchlight photo above from last week).
Thunderstorms make us change our plans. [Note: rain without lightning is not a storm, but may be deemed “liquid sunshine”. After all, it is fun to play in the rain.]
We had a storm in the area this morning, so we had to cancel two activity periods and have the campers and counselors retreat to their cabins. As a camp director, I love the occasional storm. They put campers and their counselors together at an unexpected time. This creates an implicit challenge – find ways to bond and amuse yourselves (all without any electricity) . . . GO!
These bonding times are so helpful to cabin dynamics that in previous summers, we have scheduled “rain periods” during clear blue skies to allow for this bonding experience.
Certainly, we are not truly “roughing it”. No one from the Discovery Channel will do a series about our survivalist skills. But we are halfway there. Close enough to develop strength, learn to appreciate the beauty of a sunset and understand the power of nature. But we are also physically and emotionally safe. That seems like an ideal combination to me.