“Be where your feet are,” advised the camp director at the opening ceremony of our week at family camp. She was discussing the importance of being unplugged from screens at Camp Du Nord near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where wireless connection is spotty at best.
I’ve been reflecting on what it means to “unplug.”
Despite running a blog, we are a low-tech family. I do not have a smartphone. It’s not that I am opposed to them at all (perhaps more intimidated by them). I’m hoping that when my sister upgrades hers, I will be gifted the older version.
In fact, this is how we accumulate many of our electronic gadgets: generous, more-tech savvy family members give us their cast offs (perhaps out of pity or embarrassment).
But sadly, those items often go unused. We have a GPS that sits in the garage, a fitness watch that sits on a shelf, and an old iPod that sits in a drawer.
We also do not own a television. We sold our old-school TV for $20 at a moving sale. We intended to upgrade to a flat screen, but never got around to it once we moved to Duluth and discovered all of the outdoor opportunities.
To be clear, we are not anti-technology. We are just lazy when it comes to figuring the stuff out.
I would love to send a text message that didn’t take 15 minutes because I had to push buttons three times to get the right letter. I know instantly if a friend has a smartphone because her text looks like this:
I’m thinking of going for a walk. Would you like to join me? I’m free anytime between now and 2 p.m. Then I have to run errands. Got to ready for a family gathering tomorrow.
While my text looks like this:
So What Does It Really Mean to Unplug?
I admit that leading up to camp I had small ripples of anxiety about not having access to email for 8 days. I envisioned returning to an inbox filled with 100s of emails that needed my attention.
It happened. And I handled it.
My Aha! Moment
Upon reflecting, I realized — for me — being unplugged from technology was good, but being unplugged from the “business” of everyday life was great.
Sure, we still had to eat, be clothed, and brush our teeth at camp, but beyond those basics, nothing else needed to happen. No appointments. No music or swim lessons. No laundry. No phone calls. No last minute trips to the grocery store.
No to-do list.
Yes, for one week, I unplugged from my to-do list.
And I am a list-maker extraordinaire. Lists help focus my time and energy. I also gain immense satisfaction from checking off the boxes at the end of the day.
At family camp, however, the feeling of accomplishment came from watching Daley kayaking with his new friend, Nellie, or seeing Finley strike the tree pose on Blueberry Island, or taking a walk in the woods with Tim…all the while knowing that this is all we needed to do for the day.
What a gift.
When was the last time you felt truly “unplugged”? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!