Camping can be relaxing. Sitting on a cliff looking at a gorgeous view, gazing at stars – the whole bit. If you’re a technology-addict, though, it can be an absolutely horrific bore.
Being device-free sounds intimidating. Some of us have our device addiction under control (sort of), and some of us are addicted to our devices (more than the sort of).
When was the last time you went anyplace without something that needs batteries, a charger, a USB cord, or any of the above? Going anywhere without your phone alone would throw you into a bonafide get-out-the-blue-valium panic attack.
Some people do. In fact, what these (weird?) people like to do is get a bunch of people together, head up to the mountains and the woods and “get back to nature” for a few days. Without their phones, iPods, iPods – the thought is blasphemous; you’re kidding. Camping, with other people? Face to face? What would you even do except stare at each other and keep looking at your watch (you are allowed to bring a watch, right?)
Here are some things to bring and do when you get back to nature without your device(s).
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If you are a hiking enthusiast, you probably have the latest GPS tracking-the-trails device. Leave it at home. Then take a hike in the woods. And yes, you’ll be doing it without something automatically telling you to turn left up ahead and giving you optional roads by another map.
Lewis and Clark never had GPS. You’ll be okay.
Okay, same principle. Do you really need Google Glass so that you can video cam the fish you caught? Yes, it’s a nice perk, but the whole point of this camping trip is to show you that you can get by without some technological gadget.
Remember those awesome Oakley’s your Grandma got you for Christmas that you kissed her on the cheek for and then cast aside like a smelly fish? Wear those, leave the Google Glass at home, and show the fish off when you get back.
Bring along a set of polarized replacement lenses to enhance your newfound sportsman look. People will be more impressed when they see the real thing, not something that was lazily cam’d off of Google Glass, anyway.
Sketching & Drawing
You’re no Raphael, but you aren’t bad. You enjoy sketching and drawing immensely. You have an iPad and use a killer sketching software program that helps you sketch like the pros.
On this trip, leave your iPad at home and bring your art supplies, or better yet, go to the art supply store, pick out a variety of new, cool brushes, pencils, paper, charcoal, whatever you artists need, and take them on the trip.
When the urge strikes you, go into the woods, find a tree that affords you a great view of the scenery, and begin a drawing of your own. With nothing but your talent, paper, and a brush or pencil, sketch something without software. Monet will have nothing on you when you get done with your masterpiece.
Your Kindle, Your Nook, Your Reading Device
How on earth are you going to read the newspaper without a touch screen? Bite the bullet and bring the real newspaper with you. Bring magazines. Bring that book you’ve wanted to finish and since it’s probably on your Nook, go to Barnes and Noble before you leave and buy the real thing (gasp).
And hey, if you want to read at night, use your flashlight. A book doesn’t need adjustable lighting for your sensitive peepers. Kids still use flashlights under the covers to read after the lights are out, and so far, there have been no known flashlight-blindness cases.
This one’s going to be tough. Everybody is addicted to some game. It doesn’t matter what you play yours on; you’re not going to have it this weekend.
One of the best things to do on a camping trip is to play cards in front of the fire. Take a fold-up card table and a couple of decks of cards and sit down and actually play real cards with real people. It’s cool; people laugh and joke and talk while they win or lose. Competition can be great when you don’t have to set the skill level and decide what to name the players.
Late Saturday evening, the final phase of device-detox. You don’t have your phone, so you can’t text anybody. You don’t have your iPad, so you can’t get on Facebook. Everybody’s already played cards and sing kumbaya around the campfire (you hadn’t signed on for that one). You have nothing but your wonderful they-hang-on-every-word-when-I-speak personality, and luckily you brought it.
Here are some ideas on how to use that real brain of yours to full advantage:
At dinner: You obviously don’t have a TV to keep an eye on, so find some people to sit with and, well, eat. Talk. Get to know some of these people that are most likely going through at least a little of the digital withdrawal that you are. And don’t go off somewhere and eat by yourself!
After dinner: You see a person that you are somewhat (ahem) interested in. You can’t very well get on Match.com, so as Nike says, do it. Go on over to this person and strike up a conversation about something that doesn’t make you sound too stupid or smart. And listen. And connect. Yes, you can do it, even without Twitter.
Finally, it’s over: It’s Sunday afternoon, you’re driving home, and you think about how you survived your first trip back to nature without devices or gadgets of any kind. It was actually quite nice and definitely relaxing. It isn’t until you get home that you realize you didn’t even think of getting your phone out from under the seat. Imagine that.