The outage started at about 10pm on Thursday evening. It was at about that time when we pulled into the parking lot of the camp ‘in the middle of nowhere” where the eastern and western branches of the historic Delaware river meet. The seven hour drive across rivers, valleys and through the mountains of the lower tier of upstate New York had been scenic and educational.
We arrived to pitch-black darkness under crystal-clear skies with the sliver of a new-moon slowly rising into wispy clouds and the brightest carpet of star-studded diamonds I had seen in a long time. My daughter announced – “there’s no signal, Dad” – a sign that cellular coverage had been reduced to zero. “I am sure they have Wi-Fi” was my palliative response, to instill some hope, even though I knew fully well that that was not to be the case (at for her).
Ten weeks of ‘summer break’ from school usually include at least a few weeks of ‘camp’ for most families, and ours is no different. This year, she decided that she was ready to try ‘sleepaway camp’. So, here we were, to begin three weeks of a journey into a new paradigm without internet, to be (hopefully) replaced with all kinds of activities including outdoor activities and water sports, theater, magic, music, art, and much more. Her ‘device’ is loaded with music and books, but I have a feeling that she will be hard-pressed to find time for any of that.
During the drive out, I couldn’t help but wonder – what were my ‘summer breaks’ like growing up? They were mostly spent visiting family, and traveling around in the areas where my Dad was stationed. Multiple summers were spent in Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal – the far North and Northeastern states of India were my playgrounds. And how about you – what were your ‘summer breaks’ like? Did they include any ‘summer camps’? If so, how did they influence your ‘education’ outside of formal schooling?
As adults, it is perhaps in summer-time that we feel a little bit of extra freedom to take time out for ourselves. As a society, it is a season where it is ‘acceptable’ to take time to be on family vacations, retreats and related travel. ‘Summer-camps’ for adults may look a bit different than those for kids, but the intent is perhaps the same – disconnect from the everyday routine, experience a new (unfamiliar) environment, try some new activities, learn some new skills, make some new friends, and emerge with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement about ‘back to school’ at summer’s end.
So, what would ‘Spiritual summer-camp’ look like for you? Have you ever been to one in the form of a ‘spiritual retreat’ away from home? If so, would you do it again? Have you ever experimented with an ‘in-home’ spiritual summer-camp which involved a new routine, new skills, new connections, internet disconnect, and more?
The outage (for me) lasted well after lunch on the next day. In the morning, it did feel a bit strange to pick up the phone, only to find out that I was still ‘lost’ to the outside world. I will admit that I suddenly ‘found’ a lot more hours in the day… to take a long walk by the lake after breakfast, to sit in an adirondack chair in the sunshine after lunch and doze off into day-dreams, to sit on the hill before dinner and watch the sunlight filtering through the tall trees creating musical patterns on the water…
Total disconnection from the internet, forced upon me as it was, even though it lasted less than a day, allowed me to get a wonderful glimpse of what I had been missing by not ‘going to camp’ as an adult. I was glad to ‘return’, but I secretly wished that my camping adventure had lasted a bit longer…
P.A. Join us Sunday, June 9th at 9amET and share some of your “summer camp” experiences. I will bring some questions, some lemonade and watermelon. You can bring a camp chair and some marshmallows – Kumud
A ‘slice of heaven’ in the Catskills