"In a techno world, traditional camps flourish," says a Boston Globe story last Sunday about the new allure of old-style summer camps.
"A number of rustic wilderness camps in New England are seeing a surge in their popularity, at a time when parents and educators are increasingly concerned that children do not spend enough time in the natural world," the story notes, pointing to Pine Island Camp in Maine where there are "no TVs, video games, or computers, and counselors keep the only cellphone on the island hidden away for emergencies."
A quaint thought for modern-era kids, many of whom seem surgically attached to various electronic devices? Well, "for the first time in recent memory, Pine Island sold out for the season six months before it opened."
But what about us adults who can't take a month off to head to a nature camp? Actually, there are a couple of things we all can do.
* Take a vacation, regardless of the length. A week or more is best, of course, but even a three-day weekend can refresh and rejuvenate -- if you get out of your regular routine. A getaway is often the best strategy, but you can also vacation at home. This means a vacation, not telecommuting. It also means ditch the chores (unless you love things like gardening). Get outside. Shut off your TV. Turn off the cell phone. Leave the iPod behind. And yes, do try to stay away from the computer. The idea is to slip into a slower rhythm, which is kind of hard when you're immersed in the instant feedback of a computer.
* Take a "rejuventation day" once a week this summer. As above, it means staying away from all those electric-powered devices. Spend as much time as possible out of your car. Not, not as punishment. This will help you reconnect with your community. You experience things differently when you slow down. You see things you don't notice when you're whizzing by in an auto, or have your headphones on. You hear new things. You tend to look people in the eye more.
Also, you're not bombarded by the constant stream of materialism around us, especially advertising, all designed to make us want what we don't have or looking forward to some thing in the future instead of enjoying the moment we're in.
Ads are especially pernicious in aiming to ruin our contentment. After all, if you're happy with things just the way they are, you're less likely to buy whatever it is they're selling, aren't you? They can't even let you enjoy the sporting event you're watching in peace; they've always got to be promoting the NEXT event, which the announcers imply is even better than the thing you're watching now. The overall effect is the exact opposite of enjoying the moment -- it's designed to make you always long for the future, whether that future is life with a new item or watching some new program/movie. Just leave that all behind for a day -- or even part of a day. Pay attention to Now. Enjoy Now.
Some people do this as a sabbath observence; but if that's not part of your beliefs, consider it a mental health day.