Addition by Subtraction

In the grand scheme of history, we have a lot. And, it seems we are always adding more. Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times, not so much.

Technology allows us to do so much more now than ever before. In fact, if you showed your phone to a person from just 100 years ago, they would think it a magical device. And, we’ve all seen the people who are glued to their phones walking the streets… and almost getting hit by a car. We could all do with a little less.

What about food? In many parts of society, it’s everywhere, all the time. And, while there are still too many people who struggle with a lack of food, we, as a society, actually have a larger problem consuming too much rather than too little. Some of us are really good at managing the excess. Others (like me!) struggle with saying ‘no’ to that extra two… or three cookies.

Camp is no different. We are always adding things to the property. In fact, I’m really excited about a new plan for building something fun down near the lake. We are also looking forward to our campers enjoying another two new programs this summer.

But, just like Chef Daniel’s cookies, you can have too much of a good thing. When camp becomes more about ‘things’ and less about the people, we’ve lost our way.

Sometimes the way to feeling or being better is to subtract rather than add.

What Should You Subtract?

Here’s a question for you: What, if you were take it away from your regular use, would make things better for you in the long-term?

For example, I spent a lot of time looking at info on twitter in January. I’d been helping our middle son with his college football recruiting and the ‘blue bird’ seems to be the biggest avenue for that process. T was purposeful… most of the time. At first.

Yet, even though I was trying to learn and help, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into the comparison trap, worrying about things outside of my control and, generally, becoming more anxious and impatient about the recruiting process.

Then camp happened. I got really busy with connecting with our campers and parents. I’ve traveled a lot recently to do home visits. We are putting the finishing touches on some camp projects and I’ve been helping with our Wayne County Camp Alliance friends.

In essence, I took a break from twitter and, frankly, I feel a whole lot better. Jack will be recruited based on what he does on the field and how his coaches help him. My job as his dad is to love, support and prepare him to go out independently into the world. By consuming less twitter, I’m actually adding to what is (much) more important.

Adding at Camp

Camp has a way of doing this for all of us naturally.

When we are together on the shores around Sly Lake, we put away most of the world’s distractions and focus on being truly present. And, yes, it is a gift.

Rather than sitting in the distractions of the digital world, we move. Instead of connecting with our thumbs, we are drenched in fabulous community. As opposed to our normal routines of school, homework, activity, bed it’s all connection, play, connection, play and hit the bed exhausted and smiling and full.

By taking away a lot of the devices and routines that fill out time at school and at home, we actually add space to fill ourselves with more moments and less things, more connection and less connectivity, more joy and less comparison.

Sometimes subtracting is actually adding.

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