“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
We live in the noisiest culture in human history. And this noise isn’t limited to just audible noise: It’s a total sensory overload.
On a typical day, our five senses have little to no silence, hardly ever getting a break from constant stimulation, distraction, mindless entertainment and scrolling. And whether we like to admit it or not, we are addicted, and we crave more and more. Yet I think something within us knows that it’s inhuman.
The noise is eating away at us but we don’t know what to do because we can’t stand the thought of silence. Too hard, too boring, too painful.
In the face of such constant noise, how can we relax, rest, refresh or heal our weary minds? Have meaningful relationships? Think deeply or pray?
Yet, I think this is yet another way in which camp offers us something different. It offers us the chance to take a break from the noise — both the audible and inaudible noise of daily life — and reconnect with ourselves, with nature, with each other, and with God.
I think one of the greatest gifts we give our campers and our staff is freedom from their phones, from the constant scrolling and constant addict’s itch of always having to check our phones for some type of stimulation or connection.
And instead, they get to experience the freedom of connecting with each other, being stimulated by real conversations with the people around them and by the beauty of nature around them.
The other morning I had the chance to sit down for an hour and chat with our CITs (Counselors In Training) about this very topic. They initiated the conversation, saying how much they hate being addicted to their phones but don’t know what to do or how to change.
They want to be free from the constant noise, but everybody else around them seems always to be pulling them back into being plugged into life on their phones.
At camp, our campers and staff feel free and feel more like themselves, but they don’t know how to make space for that in their lives back home.
It was a powerful and thought-provoking conversation, and they shared some profound insights about the pressure they feel they face from having to always be so connected. I was grateful to get to hear them share their experiences with each other. This group of CITs has continued to impress me. They are diving head first into all that camp has to offer.
I can’t help but think that this time away from their phones, time spent adventuring in the outdoors, waking up before 6:00 am on their campout to catch the sunrise on top of Black Balsam Knob, time spent in their formation sessions discussing their questions and thoughts about life and God and the world, and the spirit that pervades our community here at Rockmont – are precisely what is allowing them to dive deep into life during their time here.
Currently, we have eight young men who have been nominated for the rank of Paladin, which is the highest rank a camper can receive at Rockmont. Their first test is 24 hours of silence. So far, they are all going strong. What a gift it is for them to get to enter into this challenge and learn the importance of cultivating silence in their life. I’m excited to hear from them after their 24 hours are up about what they learned during their time of silence!
I encourage you wherever you are today — take a deep breath, step outside away from some screens, be completely still, and enjoy a couple of minutes of silence.
You might be surprised at what you hear!