As a Grade 11 student, I see the major impact that technology has on my generation. Technology has allowed communication to become easier, but I realize that at times, many teens overuse it. This results in a disconnection with the world around them and a lack of desire to go outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature around us.Two years ago, I had no interest in putting down my phone and exploring wilderness. Like many teens, I was addicted to my phone, and didn’t care about anything outside Toronto. But that summer, my view on nature changed when I attended an overnight camp in Muskoka.
When I arrived at the camp, the first thing I had to do was surrender my phone. Everyone slept in platform tents and there was no electricity. Each day was devoted to activities such as canoeing, survival (we’d start fires) and rock climbing. It was the first time I was exposed to nature without being distracted.
The canoe trips I took created many memorable experiences that wouldn’t have been made if I stayed at home all day. During one trip, there was a thunderstorm that forced us to stop at a nearby island. We hung a tarp for shelter, and settled under it until the rain was gone.
Through those two hours, I listened to the rain dropping against the tarp, admired the tall trees surrounding me and breathed in the fresh air. That was when I realized the importance of being outdoors and taking in what nature has to offer.
I found nature to be therapeutic, so I urged my family to spend the summer in the wilderness. Last summer, we took a trip to French River. We lived in a lodge beside the river where we watched beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We also canoed at sunset, which my parents thoroughly enjoyed. Now my family is eager to find new places to visit every summer!
And being in nature has helped me discover a passion for photography. I started a photography website that showcases the beauty I have found in nature. I hope it inspires other young people to put down their phones and explore our province’s wild spaces.
Victoria Shi is a grade 11 student and a budding naturalist.