Whenever someone asks me what I do during the summer, I tell them I go to my camp in the woods, Camp Cedarbrook. At first, people are very confused at how someone can spend six weeks in middle-of-nowhere Adirondack territory, until I tell them that I have access to showers, impressive platform tents, cabins, and just about the best waffles I could possibly hope for (Waffle Friday is the best!). It’s at this point in the conversation, when they start to get a picture of my summer, that I drop the hard news: there is no electricity and no wi-fi.
The most common response is, “I could never live without electricity.” And I feel that way sometimes. Media can be beneficial, but I can’t stress how important is it to be without these attachments. My time at Camp Cedarbrook has been a great way for me to be able to unplug. And I’d like to share my time at camp without electricity, my phone, or the internet with you.
My name is Emerald Geiger, and I have been going to camp for nine years, if you count the year I went to Mother-Daughter weekend when I was Voyager age (second grade). I am the youngest of three girls, so by the time I was old enough to go to camp as a Pathfinder (third and fourth grade), I went for two weeks knowing I would love it. The length just kept growing until I was an Explorer (high school), staying for entire summers at a time. Right now, I am approaching my last year as a camper, and this summer, I will take part in the CILT II (Camper-in-Leadership Training) program to become a staff member. During my time as a camper, I have found out how beneficial being disconnected really can be, and I bring some of these skills home with me after camp.
Social Media. I use Facebook to keep in touch with all of the friends I have met at Cedarbrook and can’t reach easily. The thing is, camp has truly shown me that nothing can beat face-to-face interaction. The time spent with your cabin-mates and counselor is welcoming and uninterrupted. Plus, the feeling of being detached from the pressures of the internet is truly great. The trick is that you don’t need to be connected to something constantly, not at camp nor at home. It will definitely improve your mental state if you shut your phone off for a certain period of time a day to enjoy another form of entertainment. Read a book. Spend time with God. Go for a walk if the weather is nice. Lately, I like to take the end of the night to put my phone away and do a personal devotional. It refreshes you for the next day, just like camp refreshes you so that you can face the “real world” once again whenthe summers over.
Your phone. That little rectangle in your pocket that gives you a heart attack when it’s not there. Forget that. When you are at camp, there is no cell phone service, so your phone is now useless. When you don’t have games on your phone at your dispense, it’s amazing what you can get accomplished. At Cedarbrook, you are constantly doing things. It’s a jam-packed schedule of fun, activities and nature. At home, it’s a different story. But you can still achieve more if you simply turn off the TV and hit pause on your favorite Netflix show. I like to say that during the summer, I become a sailor and an archer, take canoeing, cook over a fire, and tons more. Though these are camp activities, imagine what you could accomplish if you spent the summer seeing God’s creation by going on hikes or even just sitting in your backyard instead of playing Candy Crush on the couch.
Being able to unplug has really benefitted me. I truly feel that camp is a place where worldly things fall behind so that we can reconnect to God. At camp, I feel closer to God than ever, and I use the skills that we learn there to help strengthen that relationship at home. I learned the art of a face-to-face conversation with meaning behind it. I learned how to stick to a devotional in the morning and night. I learned how to live a life where you lean on Christ for support. To top it all off, camp has been the place where I have the most fun while I grow, summer after summer after summer. Talking to the counselors about my life has helped me sort out what I want to be when I grow up. Achieving activity awards has given me confidence in myself. And the support of the entire camp behind me has given me a voice that I use now to help me in my everyday non-camp life.
Camp has been the greatest thing in my life, from the second I stepped on the property, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I learned all this by leaving my computer and phone at home, grabbing my ripped-up, taped-together hiking boots and heading to a community where I could really grow to my greatest potential.
Emerald Geiger is a 17-year-old high school junior from Long Island. This summer, she will participate in CILT II at camp, and she hopes to be a staff member for many years to come. After she graduates from high school, she plans to go to college and major in either Biblical Studies or Music (or both). She feels called to music ministry. Camp Cedarbrook is her favorite place in the world, and it has made her into the person she is today.