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Dr. Magryta: Unplugged

What a refreshing feeling it was to have had a week of no cellular and computer access for the whole family. The Magrytas unplugged at a historic dude ranch in Kelly, Wyoming. The ranch sits beside the Crystal Creek in the middle of the valley surrounded by jaw dropping mountains and some of the most picturesque countryside in the world (my new opinion).

The experience is one that all Americans should live from time to time. It is a grounding or a rebalancing act for the brain and the core family unit. Living with mother nature in the form of brilliant stars in the night sky, clean mountain air, bald eagles flying overhead, pronghorn antelope loping and happy horses brings one back to a simpler albeit physically harder time long since dissipated in the urban world of modern mechanized America.

The contrast that was provided for us about life was akin to a black and white flag. Complete and stark! It was simultaneously romantic, basic, rejuvenating and stress free.

It reminded me of mission medical trips that I have taken in the past. The process of medicine in the jungle is simple. Treat the patient! Not the current insanity of insurance, beaurocratic non-medical professional driven business of complex medicine. The experience in the mountains was to live life wild.

My children were free to roam, live, explore and dream while connecting with other random humans and nature. I smiled like a Cheshire cat as my kids played cops and robbers instead of asking for TV or video games. And this is occurring even with the strict rules that we have regarding screen time. Nicole and I were amazed that given the opportunity, our kids acted like kids from a bygone era. Imaginative and in love with the freedom of life.

Every morning a bell would ring for breakfast. Amazingly, our kids were up and out the door with NO HELP at all. They would finish breakfast and find their way to the stables mount up and ride without a single bit of parental guidance. Can I get an AMEN!

There is something to be said about a bit of freedom for children. They need the feeling of self ownership and self decision. The growth curve is much steeper in this atmosphere. They have to decide, good or bad, every decision is theirs to own. On a six-hour trail horse ride, it is them, the horse, the guides and nature. Decisions are real time and not parentally induced or coached.

As I reflect on the trip and I think about the modern American child, I wish that we could find a way to have or offer these types of freedom based learning experiences for all of the youth. Mission trips to foreign countries, boy/girl scout-led trips, exploratory vacations, etc. can offer young men and women a perspective on life that is hard to get in the modern American experience that is overloaded with hyper pressurized social media, mainstream media negativity and superficial belief systems.

If you have the opportunity, have your kids engage in a mission trip or some form of not parent controlled/guided learning experience. Help them live free and grow by their own compass.

Live free — great to be an American!

Dr. Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at  newsletter@salisburypediatrics.com

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