The bags were packed for our weekend of camping but there was one thing purposefully left out……toys.
I intentionally left all of the toys at home for our weekend camping trip with the thought that I would let nature inspire the boys to play instead of having their play revolve around a bunch of plastic crap.
And nature did its job! The sticks turned into guns, crutches, walking sticks, and swords.
The rocks were stacked, sorted, thrown, skipped, and collected.
They used their hands to make sand castles and tunnels on the river bank and used pebbles, feathers, and leaves to decorate their creations.
Their eyes came alive as the sky became darker and the stars began to twinkle. And we decided to keep the outer shell of our tent off so we would have a full view of the stars through the roof screen.
Isn’t this what being in the great outdoors is all about? Connecting with nature, fresh air, hugging trees (yup, we did that too!)
And then on our last day there, after having a fantastic weekend, I overheard some mothers talking about how their children were playing their hand held video games in their tents. Three kids in separate tents but playing a video game against each other. The mothers were marveling at technology and commenting on how much fun the kids were having. And I don’t mean to judge, but I do, because SERIOUSLY PEOPLE? YOU ARE CAMPING!!!!
I think that too often in our society we value things over experiences. We try to give our children everything we didn’t have or everything we think they need. But really, what do they need? Of course the basic necessities must be met, but after that? Are we doing them a disservice by turning our homes into mini toy stores and buying the “in” toy because our children’s friends all have them?
And the waste that we are creating as a society in this one area of consumption alone is staggering. The plastic dollar store toys sent home in goody bags are quickly broken and discarded. The talking robot that is sitting in the bottom of the closet was sure entertaining for the first half hour or so but now it just represents our obsession with having more things.
Of course some toys are fabulous. In our house we have a huge box of Lego that gets played with daily. It teaches building skills, math, patterns, and best of all, creativity. But now that we are striving to live with less, many of the not so fabulous toys are making their way to the garage sale pile and our house and minds are more clutter free because of it.
And when the time comes and we load our necessities onto our backs I wonder what toys we will be bringing with us? A small sack of Lego, maybe a few small cars, and I think that is about it.