A break in the routine
Our family went to camp this past weekend. It’s usually a sleepover camp for kids during the summer, but it also has a couple of weeks and a weekend geared toward families.
My wife runs the programming for this particular family camp weekend, and she tries to keep it pretty relaxed. There aren’t a lot of mandatory activities. Or any really. She encourages people to come and eat meals together. She also plans a campfire on the first evening, a couple of input sessions on the Saturday, a slip-and-slide activity in the afternoon, and board games on the second evening, but all of these are more or less optional.
If a family would rather go for a walk than slip-and-slide, rather take a trip into town than play board games, or would even rather just take a nap, that’s fine. The idea isn’t to accomplish a bunch of activities. The idea is to have a relaxed time as a family, to relax together.
This laid back schedule is easier for some people than for others. I have no trouble hanging out with a coffee and a book, or sitting on the breezeway playing cards, or even just watching the swallows that nest under the eaves of the lodge each year.
Some people, however, really struggle with not having their time tightly scheduled. There were those who came up to me a few times over the course of the weekend to ask what they should be doing. When I said that they should just be relaxing, they looked as if the very idea of relaxation was a bit frightening.
Even the kids weren’t immune to this, my own included (though we try to give them lots of “bored time” at home). Me eldest came to me in the middle of Saturday afternoon to announce that he didn’t have anything to do. I listed a few possibilities, one of which he grudgingly chose. As he walked away though, he called back over his shoulder, “It’s easier when people just tell you what you need to do.”
Which is true, of course, and it’s why so many people just default to getting the next thing done on the list that other people tell them needs to be done. It’s also why it’s so important for people to take time now and again to rest, to walk away from their routines, and to get some perspective on what they’re “supposed” to be doing.
It may be harder when we actually have to think about what we want to do, what we should do, and what we need to do, but taking that time can return some balance to our overly busy lives. So when my kids (or even other campers) come and ask me what they should be doing, I generally turn the question back on them.
“Good question,” I tell them. “You should probably start by coming up with a good answer.”