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Learning to live life unplugged

Published: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

Over the Thanksgiving weekend my family and I headed south to Lake Cumberland State Park in south-central Kentucky. Every other year my wife’s extended family holds a reunion, and this state park has been the agreed upon site for the last three gatherings.

As the impending get together neared, my wife’s aunt sent out an email to all the family members. It outlined who was bringing what, listed different activities and gave the multiple youth that were attending the rules for the use of their electronics. Yikes! I wondered how that would go over.

The aforementioned rules stated that electronic devices, such as phones, could be used first thing in the morning and then before bed. Sounds great, but if you have witnessed anything resembling a teenager lately you probably have noticed they are glued to those phones. If you would ask one of them they would swear they can’t live without it. We had discussed this rule with our boys, but I was interested to witness this firsthand.

This particular location in Kentucky doesn’t have a whole lot around it. In fact, most folks would say as there is nothing to do.

The nearest Walmart is about 45 minutes away from where we were staying. I know it is sad to judge ones distance from an urban area by the distance from the nearest Walmart, but it is something we can all relate to.

If the family was going to survive this long weekend we were going to have to live life unplugged. The outdoors was going to need to be our entertainment and I was looking forward to it. If the weather would cooperate I had no doubt that the kids would indeed survive the short vacation without their devices.

One of my favorite parts of the trip unfolds as we arrive at the park entrance. It is approximately 5.3 miles from the welcome sign back to Lure Lodge. The road winds and traverses through some of the most beautiful Kentucky hills you’ll ever see. I’ll be completely honest; it is challenging to keep the car on the road while gawking at the gorgeous woods that lay all around.

We were on that road for just a few hundred yards when I heard the boys talking about how they couldn’t wait to go exploring. During the previous trip they found some awesome terrain features that became caves, forts and anything else the imagination could conjure up.

The excitement for the outdoors was building and we hadn’t even been out of the car yet. The other activity that was mentioned multiple times on the way down was looking for geodes. This part of Kentucky is absolutely overrun with the geological wonders. They litter the ground and can be found just by spending a few minutes looking and walking around. No matter how big of a rock hound you are, there is something pretty amazing about finding one of these things. If it happens to split open already the experience is that much better.

As the days progressed we spent time playing Frisbee, working through a disc golf course, going on hikes, playing Wiffle ball and spending time around a campfire. Each of these activities can only be enjoyed outdoors. People laughed, the kids ran and just went wild through the woods.

For the third trip in a row, we were blessed with great weather. Sure, it was cold, but the sun blasted through the sky and each day was bright and cheerful. As we were getting close to the end the usual mutterings from the kids about not wanting to leave started to fill the air.

I am pleased that they enjoyed their time outdoors with family so much they didn’t really think about being plugged in.

In fact, most of the rule-breakers over this family reunion were the adults. Guess what they were doing? Posting pictures of the kids on Facebook.

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