UNPLUGGED: DO WE NEED WIFI WHILE CAMPING?
I was looking at campsites to plan my next family trip and was surprised to see a review on trip advisor for a beautiful but remote campsite which read “very nice campground but bad wifi”. I wondered when wifi signal became a criterion by which we judged the merit of a camp site.
In recent years, I have been more and more surprised and saddened by the number of Australian campsites now offering wifi across their facilities. While of course, it is convenient and maintaining a tidy inbox might make those first few days back at the office a little less hectic, but it isn’t what camping is about. Strengthening existing bonds, forming new bonds, lounging around on collapsible chairs, cold beers (on a good day), lukewarm beers, great scenery, this is what makes camping great.
In my kids the difference between camping with wifi and without is striking. If the wifi is there, the kids have it as a constant temptation. Their little eyes are drawn to the enticing backlights and technology policies have to be decided upon and agreed to.
Last year we went to Mambi Island on the Lower Ord River. It was fantastic, the free campsite had toilets but not much else. The kids went cold turkey, they climbed, they invented games, they laughed, they threw mud at each other. They behaved like kids, instead of mini-adults crouched over computer screens. We created a refuge from the modern world for the duration of our trip and it paid infinite dividends. We returned to civilisation more rejuvenated, the kids spent the trip talking to each other instead of burying their heads in their digital opiates and we were all the better for it.
However, the sad reality is that campers are much more likely to opt for a campsite which has free wifi. The modern work environment requires us to be connected every day. National Parks like Karlu Karlu, Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park and Watarrka are now offering wifi connection to visitors, so you can instantly update your Instagram profile with pictures while taking in the splendour of nature through your iPhone camera lens.
Many will argue that if you don’t want to use the wifi, don’t use it. Let the techno-junkies have their fix and you can relax without the need to log on. We all have the choice and to have wifi there as an option makes for a safer camping experience.
They are right, we do all have the choice and internet can play as large, or as small a role in our camping experience as we let it. But I say let’s keep wifi for designated places. At the campsite in the clubhouse, by all means, check your Facebook feed and send some Snapchats to family and friends. But within the national parks why let phone ringtones and message alerts invade our national parks, the last bastion of peace and tranquillity left in our modern world.
What is your take on wifi availability in camping sites and the use of smartphones when camping? It is something that someone should complain about? Share your thoughts with us through the comments section below.