Camping Without Service

Photo courtesy of Sophia Quinn

The possibilities of summer widen our eyes and make the four-month break seem destined to be filled with countless moments of bliss. Living in British Columbia, it’s easy to get lost in plans made with friends and family to climb, bike, or hike the endless beautiful vistas. But As the days begin to pick up pace and days of work finally seem to line up, it becomes clear that the big ideas at the start of the summer are require a bit of effort to actually pan out. That hike that was supposed to take seven hours? No longer appealing to some friends. That bike ride after work? Not so fun when it’s raining. But eventually the day comes, and the runners are tied up and you and your friends are driving to the mountains.

A while ago, I headed to Sunshine Coast of British Columbia with two friends to kayak for a few days. Despite being relatively close to “civilization”, the inlet we explored over the following days had patchy (if any) service. Being disconnected meant no alarm clock in the morning, no Instagram story showing off the spectacular beaches we were sleeping on, and no phone call for safety, should something happen. I admit, camping and traveling to unknown places is much more daunting without the safety net of cell service. Luckily, the three of us were familiar with the area and route before venturing out.. Once we had gotten over our initial fear of the unknown, the absence of service allowed for the three of us to share a unique experience that I think many of us miss out on as we get older and more connected.

I can’t remember the last time I took the bus or walked home without listening to music, or chose not to use free time after work to catch up on what I missed online that day., our phones are Undoubtedly an irremovable part of our day-to-day, but sometimes living without it, even for a short while, really can change a trip. While a speaker with some good music always makes a day outdoors even better, there is something about the silence that allows for a different kind of experience– listening to the waves crashing on the shore or the birds in the morning. Without an outlet around, everything that is drowned out by your phone emerges at full volume. Without service, it’s possible to fully disconnect from anxieties of the day-to-day and become more in tune with your surroundings, your body and the people around you. That lack of service provided an opportunity my friends and I to share stories, dreams for the future and to reminisce on times spent together; making us all closer than before. just being present with your friends, without any distractions, makes the absence of service something pleasurable rather than terrifying.

Without service, it’s possible to fully disconnect from anxieties of the day-to-day and become more in tune with your surroundings, your body and the people around you

It takes time to get comfortable with the fact that you are kind of on your own. Trusting that you packed enough food, water purification and fuel to get you through your trip, it dawns on you that you are far more capable that you may think. It only takes a couple days of work for the endless possibilities to materialize in front of you if you want them enough. The lack of connection intensified that awareness of freedom, however brief it was. in the grand scheme of things, The details of the trip itself are unimportant; what really mattered was the feeling that it triggered and deeper connection that it allowed for.

Without a real sense of time, we woke up with the sun warming our sleeping bags. Rather than rolling over and letting the familiar blue light of our phone screens start up our brains, we relaxed, in no rush to leave the paradise where we’d woken up. We spend so much time looking at beautiful places and people on Instagram, wishing we were on vacation instead of where we are, that it was kind of special letting yourself enjoy the brief moments of vacation while they last. Existing in the moment without worrying about what you’re missing back home seems to only be possible when there’s no vibration in your pocket pulling you in and out of wherever you are. Being outside in the heat of the day and letting your body hike and jump and swim and lay in the sunshine calms the soul in a way that few other things can.

It’s funny how planning your day around the sun and hunger, rather than the time and plans that keep coming, makes it possible for the simple pleasures of life to have more of an impact. Drinking coffee in the morning isn’t something to wake you up quick before work or school, but something you sip slowly and savour as you are looking out at the mountains in front of you. Instead of eating your breakfast alone, catching up on social media, you and your friends squat around a little pot trying to get the water to boil for some oatmeal. Wasting the days outside, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine without any obligations gives a little rejuvenating break from the summer routine we all fall into. Even moments of fear or discomfort on trips like these provide a story to laugh about later; the challenges only bring friends closer together at the end of the adventure. Looking at the stars without the light pollution of the city or singing songs obnoxiously loud with your friends to scare away the animals are funny little moments that only can happen when you are in a situation where you have really no other choice than to dive right in and experience the moment full on.

Even moments of fear or discomfort on trips like these provide a story to laugh about later; the challenges only bring friends closer together at the end of the adventure.

Though it only lasted a few days, the peace and sense of wonder that remained following our little adventure made returning to the day-to-day of life somehow lighter. Walking to work seemed shorter and less tiresome, after recalling the hours spent trekking through the forest or kayaking across the inlet. It really is the moments of challenge and untainted joy that stick in your memory. I suggest we all make a little bit of time to try something a little different, push ourselves and our friends a little further, and do something memorable, however that may look for you. We need to allow ourselves to experience these unique moments while we still can; leave a little bit of time for the kids within us to explore, to play with our friends outside, without a care in the world. And isn’t that really the essence of summer?

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