I consider myself part of a transition generation that has adapted to technology but never truly embraced it. We are resistant, but not ignorant. We applaud some of the changes made possible by innovation, but are appalled by others. We’re still young enough to adapt, but wise enough to know when we shouldn’t. I have a computer, but still go to the library to do some of my research. I have a cell phone, but don’t need it turned on 24/7. I still read paper books. I watch movies on my television. I listen to music from a CD. I take pictures with a real camera. I know. I am old fashioned and I wear the label proudly. So I was very pleased recently when I noticed a decidedly “old-fashioned” activity touted on Facebook by a multitude of different generations.
While some of you were globe trotting and beach lounging during spring break, others took their families or friends to the woods, the mountains, or the lake to enjoy the benefits of fire and water. I find it reassuring that in an age when society is determined to become more and more dependent on chips and pixels, the first choice of relaxation for some millennials is a return to the lifestyle of the caveman. It made me very happy to see so many selfies taken in front of campfires and tents! Even the ones from cabins and motor homes represented at least a bit of an encounter with nature.
When we lived in California we did a lot of camping. It was our primary escape from the chaos of the city. The mountains and lakes and ocean were equally distant from our home in the valley, and it was a cheap activity for a family. Other than the purchase of a tent and a few pieces of equipment we had only the expense of traveling to our destination. And camping didn’t require a lot of complicated planning…we were essentially just playing, eating, and sleeping in a different location. But there was something almost magical about eating dinner beneath a mammoth pine tree or on top of a huge boulder. And watching the glowing flames of a campfire was mesmerizing. I look back on some of those outings as the best experiences of our lives.
Gary and I aren’t likely to spend the night in a tent anymore, but we did sit at a picnic table by the lake last Sunday afternoon and watch the ducks float on the water. We were surrounded on all sides by a variety of recreational vehicles and even a tent or two. There were children exploring a sand bar and a couple fishing from the rocks. Wood was stacked up next to one of the fire pits in preparation for the evening. And although I’m sure they were tucked away somewhere, I didn’t see one cell phone or laptop in use.
It seems inevitable that we are headed toward some kind of “cradle to grave” computer app that will control every aspect of our lives, but I won’t live to see it. Oh, I’ll make a few more transitions and accept a few more gadgets into my life before I’m ninety. In the meantime it’s nice to know that even some of those who have never known life without a screen enjoy the pleasures of camping. Perhaps they will make sure their grandchildren have the same opportunities.