After pulling up to Camp Wandawega and texting my friends that keep track of me to let them know I’d made it in one piece, I switched my phone to airplane mode and slipped it in my bag. Freedom. From that point on, I only touched my phone to set a morning alarm. Had I remembered my alarm clock, I wouldn’t have touched my phone the entire weekend. But, I required an alarm to get up early enough to jump in the lake before the festivities of the day got going.
Putting my phone away allowed me to be fully present with the other women attending Let’s Camp, a creative women’s retreat hosted by The Glossary and Feminest. It meant deep, heartfelt conversations without leaning over and pulling out my phone to check if the outside world needed me. The outside world could wait.
Being unplugged meant not caring what time it was and not actually needing to know thanks to megaphones and dinner bells. It meant being fully in a moment by not trying to taking pictures and yet now being able to close my eyes and remember every aspect. It meant counting my weekend in laughter instead of likes while truly being in the moment. It meant late night conversations, cross-legged on bed, sharing stories with women I just met but felt like I’d known for ages. And not once did I wonder, “What’s happening elsewhere?”
I shared that weekend with so many talented photographers whose lenses captured the moments better than I ever could. I acknowledge this as a gift both that allowed me to be fully immersed and that their images embody the feeling of camp. A heartfelt thank you to Jaclyn Simpson, Momoko Fritz, and Stephanie Bassos for being my camp eyes.
This experience, and camp as a whole, felt like a luxury in this day and age when my phone is often permanently glued to my hand. It was an incredible reminder of the simplicity that comes from unplugging and the happiness that accompanies it. My connection to myself became stronger as did my connection to others.
As I hoped in my car and switched my phone out of airplane mode preparing for the drive home, I reflected on how I could incorporate the freedom of unplugging in my daily life. I reminded myself that my walks along Lake Michigan are partially unplugged since I don’t get reception on the beach though often I stop to take pictures of the sunset. But I want something more intentional.
So I’m trying an experiment — each week I am going to set aside time where I am without my phone when I switch my phone off and enjoy the presence of the moment. This might be an hour a day or a day a week. I haven’t felt that out yet. Perhaps I’ll start small and then begin unplugging for longer and longer periods. Maybe I find that those small periods are all I need. We shall see.
I do know that I’m going to continue to leave my phone in my purse during meals and tea dates with friends and be fully present for myself and for them. I’m going to remember that the experience happened whether I captured it on camera or not. And I’m going to continue be grateful for the opportunities to completely unplug while reminding me how wonderful it is to be connected.