Time on the River is Good for your Brain!
This morning, the New York Times ran a wonderful article about five neuroscientists who spent a week on the San Juan River in Utah to study how technology affects how we think and behave. We noticed many parallels to our own clients that these gentlemen experienced on their river trip.
Here at ECHO, we find that many of our guests book their trips specifically to give themselves a break from the never-ending stream of emails they receive. This trend has only increased with smart phones as people receive possibly life-altering news to their pocket. And as some of our guests are more than thrilled to dam up the stream of email and texts, others aren't so sure. Every season guests ask what the cell phone coverage is like along the way. We usually reply gleefully that there is no coverage, as the rivers ECHO rafts have been protected from development (including cell towers) through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Some guests remain unamused and can't imagine a day, much less 4-6 days without contact with the outside world. But we remain undaunted in our quest to encourage people to leave the iPods at home, not wear their watches and worry about emails upon their return.
Our reasons for this are to provide an uninterrupted experience between families and fellow rafters. Not only are parents able to connect completely with their children without the distractions of TVs, video games and music players, but you can actually share experiences together as a family. If kids are listening to their iPod in camp, it not only impedes the social aspect we try to create, but they might also miss the splash of a fish vaulting out of the water or the scream of a bald eagle calling to its mate.
Outside interruptions can really impede the group dynamic of a river trip, as well. If someone were to receive bad news on the trip, it can not only ruin their vacation but the news can cast a cloud over the group as a whole and leave them wondering what awful or wonderful news they're missing out on. Lastly, the researchers in the article hypothesize that the brain may be using valuable storage space anticipating communication. The article points out that, "There's a real mental freedom in knowing no one or nothing can interrupt you." We couldn't agree more.