Technology is fully ingrained in our busy lives. We text or email instead of talking, keep up with our friends’ lives through Instagram, and do most of our schoolwork in front of a computer. Then there’s the entertainment, whether it’s our favorite streaming series on Netflix, video game on a console, or music on Spotify.

But often, a little screen-free time is just what we need to reconnect to the world around us, and that’s why VISIONS teen volunteer programs are technology free.*

Sound daunting?

It’s not as bad as you think, and most of our high school and middle school volunteers agree that they are way too busy on VISIONS summer programs to even notice. Here, VISIONS teens, tweens, and leaders offer the top 10 ways to survive offline during a VISIONS trip:

  1. Immerse yourself in your work. The community service work is at the core of all VISIONS summer programs, and each location has two to three work projects to choose from every day, so there’s never a dull moment.

  2. Use a power tool. Kind of like an electronic device, but more productive! Many VISIONS programs focus on construction and carpentry, and our staff carpenters and leaders can teach you how to use new, exciting tools.

  3. Learn the language. Practice your conversational language skills with locals (who typically don’t speak a word of English) on our Spanish immersion programs in Peru, Galapagos, and Dominican Republic, or our French immersion program in Guadeloupe.

  4. Get to know each other. It’s VISIONS policy that no more than two friends can come together on a program, and most come alone. Everyone’s new, so there’s lots to talk about!

  5. Meet your new neighbors. We live within the heart of a community, and because we return year after year, locals welcome us with open arms. They love to share stories and local traditions (and they rarely have technology gadgets, either).

  6. Play a game. Try a game of pick-up soccer with the kids in your neighborhood, or street baseball or dominos in the Dominican Republic, for example.

  7. Check out a local market. On your home base crew day, you will have an opportunity to shop for food at the local markets, where you can get a taste of the local life in your host community.

  8. Get crafty. Whether it’s learning to make pottery in Peru, carving calabash in the British Virgin Islands, or making rice paper in Myanmar, come home with a new skill.

  9. Get cooking. In each VISIONS program location, there are traditional dishes, ranging from Native American fry bread on the Montana Indian reservations to the Neyda’s homecooked Andean meals in Peru. Learn new recipes from your neighbors and prepare new foods for friends and family.

  10. Write it down. VISIONS trips provide a lot of journaling material, and it‘s important to write it down while it’s fresh. There can be a lot to process within these new cultures and experiences, and it’s amazing to look back at your thoughts and feelings months or even years from now to see how much you’ve grown.

To learn more about all VISIONS programs and locations, go here.

Are you a VISIONS alum? What are your tips for surviving screen free time?

*VISIONS participants can have cell phones during their travels to the program locations. Then all devices are turned in for the duration of the trip. Cameras are allowed!

Tech-Free Programs

Teen summer programs that unplug from the digital to connet with the real.

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VISIONS in The New York Times