Leave a Message after the “Chirp”


We’re halfway through July, and I’m sure you’re all likewise wondering where the first half of summer has gone. We start the season with plenty of bucket-list plans for campouts, road trips, family BBQs and anything else that allows us to soak in the warmer temps and longer days. But sure enough, time passes far quicker than our ambitious intentions can keep up with, and we find ourselves motioning through the same patterns from the colder and darker seasons of the year. And if you’re like me, these “patterns” include a disproportionate amount of checking my email and Facebook, when I would be much happier simply hammocking.

So how do we get our lives in balance, given the ever-addictive qualities of our “digital lives?” For me, that means frequent hiking and camping trips in the summer, where I am sure to enjoy a “no signal” indication on my smartphone. Sure, it sometimes takes a few hours to finally feel comfortable “off the grid,” when I could be missing out on important news or events. But once my brain syncs up with my contented heart and gut, it is pure bliss knowing there is no need to worry about anything beyond whether my marshmallow is toasting nicely or about to go up in flames.

But perhaps you’re not a card-carrying REI member or ready to take the unplugged leap on your own. So what do you do if you want to get off the grid for some old-fashioned summertime fun? Lucky for you, organized “adult summer camps” are on the rise throughout the US. Jessica Braff, my friend and fellow market researcher, recently attended Camp Grounded in Anderson Valley, California, which is two and a half hours north of San Francisco. When she shared her experience with me, I was amazed that kindred spirits from not just California but all over the world came to Camp Grounded for the four-day long weekend, all vowing to relinquish and disconnect from any and all devices for their full time at the camp. The camp is organized by Digital Detox, a group whose motto is “disconnect to reconnect.” For them the reconnection comes from eye-to-eye conversation and shared experiences with fellow campers, as well as individual reconnection with oneself. The belief, of course, is that this can only truly happen when we silence the outside noise and nagging neediness of everyday life — at least occasionally.

Clearly Camp Grounded is on to something, with even the Oxford Dictionary adding “digital detox” as a new word late last year. To be sure, the digital detox movement isn’t anti-technology, but rather it promotes a conscious and purposeful use of it. It’s simply too easy to get caught up in cute puppy videos on YouTube, when your real life dog is panting at your feet, dying to go on a walk. So log off and get out there. Breath some air, listen for bird chirps instead of text alerts, chat with any neighbors you might pass. And I’ll likewise do the same — my hammock is calling, after all.

Heather McEneany

Heather McEneany

Vice President at watchLAB
Want to compare notes about the best camp sites in California or how to build an Adirondack chair with just a mitre saw and 2x4s? Give Heather a call. She loves meeting new people and learning about their experiences and ideas (even better if it’s with a craft beer in hand).
Heather McEneany

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