The oldest won't go anywhere without her iPhone. The youngest can't stop playing Mindcraft on his iPod. And the middle child? If I need to know where she is or where she's been, I just check Instagram. I don't even think any of them even realized we took a family vacation last summer. Their heads barely ever looked up from their electronic devices.
So this year, I went looking for a family vacation destination where the devices--the iPhones, the iPods and the iPads--won't work. Where there's no e-mail, no Facebook and no texting. No Instagram, Pinterist or Twitter--nothing to entertain my kids but my husband, me and the great outdoors.
This year, we're going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Minnesota-Canada boarder--a place so pure that you drink water from the lakes, cook your food over a campfire and can't get an Internet connection without a satellite phone.
A Device-free Vacation
There is nothing inherently wrong with electronic devices. My kids use them to do their homework, connect with friends and let me know where they are or where they're going. The problem with devices is that they consume my children. All my kids want to do is be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social media sites. It's like they're so busy "liking" everyone else's lives that they're not living their own.
We went to Disney World last summer and I truly believe the only reason they know we were there is because they posted pictures of our trip. Everything they saw, they saw through the lens' of their devices.
Not this year. This year they're going to see their vacation through their own eyes--because we are taking a vacation without devices, and Instagram doesn't work in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is located at the far northeastern corner in Minnesota, where the Ontario's forests come crashing into several dozen of Minnesota's most beautiful 10,000 lakes.
It's one of there rare pristine wilderness areas that has been untouched by civilization--nothing but dozens of the deepest, coldest, cleanest lakes in the country, connected by nothing more than a seemingly endless series of channels and paths. The lakes, of course, are dotted with islands large and small, which are covered with wildlife and campsites.
The number of things to do in the BWCA is endless, but there are only two ways to get around: canoeing or hiking.
My family is going to do both. We're going to canoe out to an island, set up camp, go hiking, fishing, swimming and exploring. Then we're going to cook our meals around the campfire and talk to each other. That's right: We're going to share stories, tell jokes and ask questions. We'll play cards and maybe kills some time by whittling some wood.
But one thing we won't be doing on this vacation is burying our heads in our devices--because devices won't work where we're going. This year, we're going to the BWCA and we're having a vacation without devices.