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Finding a way to ‘connect’ at the lake

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School is out for summer! Parents are often challenged to keep their kids doing more than just sitting in the house on the computer, in front of the TV or with handheld devices just inches from their faces. As a parent of a teenager, I, too, am faced with this challenge.

This year, my family and I will be newcomers to the seasonal lake scene. I know that our time spent at the lake will mean no TV for my daughter and maybe less time with her electronics.

The beach is steps from our trailer and she is like a fish in water so it shouldn’t be a problem.
To be honest, I’m more worried about me.

I admit, when we were thinking of buying our seasonal dream spot, I had to ask, "Can I get the internet out here?"

Judge me if you like, but I enjoy Facebook, Twitter, I’m a blogger and I read blogs. I won’t even tell you the stupid things I type into Google.

We are now out here for our first full week and I am beginning to understand the difference between being unplugged and staying connected.

When I’m at home, I spend an hour in the morning having my coffee, reading and returning emails, getting caught up on my blog subscriptions. I move to Facebook to see what is going on with everyone, commenting where I have something to say, "liking" the pictures and statuses of my plethora of Facebook friends from around the world.  

As I get on with my day, I often come back to my many sources of social media on my iPod. With ease, I can post a photo to Instagram, Facebook, or keep updated with my friends, or my favourite musician.

I love the sound of silence in nature, no music, no traffic, no interruptions, just the whisper of the breeze, the lapping of the water, and the rustling of leaves.
Here, where life slows down, I have moments of being unplugged as I enjoy the sunshine and listen to the birds and kids playing on the beach. I enjoy the serenity of the calm, quiet water.

However, I find myself still wanting to stay connected. To me, staying connected doesn’t mean having my phone or iPod in hand at the dinner table or while people are visiting. It does not mean having my morning coffee with my laptop open. It does mean that I may text my friend to ask her a question; I may edit some pictures, or write a blog post. I will check in with my writing group so that after five days of being unplugged, I don’t feel so overwhelmed trying to figure out how I will catch up.

Being completely unplugged is what some people need.  Me, I like to be moderately connected.

Do you choose times to be completely unplugged? Or can you settle for just staying connected in a small way?

Tannis Ross is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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