Watching our Upper Elementary students piling their gear onto the bus for their overnight to White Memorial I was struck by the amount of stuff they were taking. Good grief: this was a 29-hour overnight, on a balmy autumn day with a daytime high 78˚ and an overnight low of 42˚, and they were sleeping indoors. What could they possibly do with all the stuff that was filling the bus?
To be fair to the kids, we provided the packing list. Now I subscribe to the old scouts’ motto of Be Prepared, but with the gear we asked our students to bring, and some biodegradable Dr. Bronner’s All-One soap, they could have taken a two-week trek.
We live in a very materialistic world. Even here at LMS, where we make a conscious effort at minimalism and teaching self-sufficiency, it is hard to escape our consumer culture. We practice recycling and reusing, and that is great, but the end game is about making do with less and leaving less of a footprint.
Learning that you can hang your wet socks out to dry and go without until they do, or that you don’t need to change into a different T-shirt for each activity may not seem like a big thing, but it is from little habits that life patterns are formed. In fact, my grandson, Max, went off on his two-week adventure this summer with just what he could carry in his backpack (and that included his sleeping bag and mat). I like this rule, whether for a trek or a plane trip: if you can’t carry it you don’t need it.
In his classic routine, Stuff, George Carlin reflects, “that's all your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff." For a good thought-provoking laugh, you can watch the routine at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac.
So maybe next year we can use the Elementary overnight as a teachable moment in how to make do with less stuff.