I recently returned from a trip back to New York. We arrived in Queens, amid the usual insane driving and traffic, loud noises and … well, it’s New York. I had just completed a big design project and needed some down time. But I couldn’t relax. I took work calls and dealt with client issues. I seethed about the road and hated on the people. I was trying to have fun, but finding it challenging.
After a few days in the city, our plan was to go to the Catskills to Boy Scout family camp, a tradition started when my man was a boy himself that we continued with our own family during our fours years living in New York City.
Family camp is located on Lake Nianque, about two hours northwest of New York City. It houses about 20 rustic cabins that families rent for a week or more during the summer. Many families have been going the same week every year for decades. The waterfront is run in traditional Boy Scout fashion: everyone takes a swim test, gets a buddy tag, and must always swim or boat with a buddy during designated swimming and boating hours. While this might sound like a draconian system, it feels the opposite. With structure comes freedom. I glimpsed the kids sporadically on their way to and from whatever they were doing—sometimes carrying towels, sometimes with nets for catching critters—but I never worried.
There is no cell phone service at Family Camp: no email, no voicemail, not even texts. Unconnected in nature feels like paradise. I finally relaxed.
We canoed the Delaware River. All without thoughts of email, instagram, and snapchat. I couldn’t even check the weather. (Turns out, if you go outside you can pretty much figure out what the weather is like.) We fished. We swam. I napped. Sure, the kids spent time in their bunks playing games on their iPods. But without internet their attention turned to other things and they were soon back outside catching frogs, newts, snakes and turtles. Or fishing. Or swimming. All good stuff.
I missed the news headlines, and the latest national shooting tragedy. I’m sure there will be another and I’ll read all about it in my news feed. For now, I’m trying to hold onto that relaxed feeling that there is nothing for me to do. Boredom is a rare luxury in the information age.
Below are several interesting perspectives on unplugging: