Kid Ziplining

How This Mother-Son Duo Reconnected at Treetop Eco-Adventure Park

It is a little mind-blowing when you think of it: life these days sometimes feels like it has become too busy to live. All the modern tech we use daily, tech which was meant to make our lives simpler and bring us closer together, has actually made things more complicated and us more fragmented. Whether we want to admit it or not, we as a society are skating far too close to burnout (assuming we’re not there already). Our relationships with friends, family, community and place are becoming more and more digital. This is no less true for me, even though up until now I’ve staunchly refused to admit it. Why? I’m not quite sure. Pride, perhaps. Or a misguided sense of needing to “achieve my goals” or keep up with the times. But this feeling of overwhelm and disconnect became all too apparent for me when I asked my fifteen-year-old son if there was anything special he wanted to do this summer, just the two of us…

Boy in Tunnel

And I sent that message by text. When he was no farther away than the next room. D’oh!

It was on realizing I’d done this that I was compelled to take a good hard look at how disconnected we really are. When we spend time together, we’re not really spending it with each other so much as near each other. When we go out to a restaurant to eat, we’re both on our phones. In the car on the way to school, he’s on his phone while I’m taking a work call through Bluetooth. The last thing we did together was go to the movies and, you guessed it, while we were waiting for the previews to roll, we were both on our phones. Scrolling. Absorbing. Not talking.

Happily, my son’s responding text to what he would like to do just him and me was: that thing in the trees where ur high up & u do the zipline and also can u make me a sandwich im hungry pls & ty … his grammar and written etiquette is a work in progress. Also happily, I speak fluent teen-to-text, and realized that he was talking about Treetop Eco-Adventure Park. His digital communication may be atrocious, but his idea was a refreshing one. After all, when you’re up in the trees, you can’t be absorbed in your phone because you have to be holding onto ropes and nets and cables and your safety clips. There is simply no choice but to disconnect. In so doing, we’ll have a genuine shot at reconnecting with one another in one of the most breathtaking settings around—right in the middle of Durham Region’s Oak Ridges Moraine. So I bought our tickets and booked our spot.

Woman Ziplining

While I have been to Treetop Eco-Adventure Park before, my son was a first-timer. Right from the parking lot where we disembarked from our vehicle, he came face-to-face with the final zipline—a public school class was here for a field trip, as it happened. My fifteen-year-old teenager watched as eagerly as if he were a five-year-old child, while eighth-grader after eighth-grader came zipping down to the finish line. It was the perfect way to set the tone for our own pending adventure. We geared up, were given instructions by our guide Ethan, and set out for a day in the trees. Being a Friday afternoon, we were joined by a young couple on their day off, and after being taken through the easiest of the five courses, we decided as a group to skip over the medium course and tackle the two hardest—“Silver” and “Red.” These were challenging courses; I won’t lie. And even though my somewhat out-of-shape body says otherwise, I had a heck of a lot of fun, and I regret nothing… not even missing that last rolling log on one of the obstacles and dangling helplessly like a fish on a hook for a few moments while my son howled with laughter at my indignity.

I came to Treetop Eco-Adventure Park with the expectation that I was going to disconnect from my fast-paced life and reconnect with my son, albeit in a theoretical, rose-tinted way. And my expectations absolutely were lived up to, but what I didn’t foresee at the outset of our adventure is exactly how we were going to reconnect. I am grateful for the experience because I was reminded this day that there are things I had forgotten, such as my son’s high-pitched giggle of excitement. He still has it, apparently, even though in recent years I’ve forgotten what it sounds like because he’s been too busy being a cool teenager. We were also able to joke around in a way that we haven’t done in a long time because phones and technology and streaming services and outside commitments were not there to get in the way. We have new memories to share as well. For example, my too-cool teenager has now cemented his identity as a loser of left shoes—in addition to having lost his left running shoe on the zipline (don’t worry, Ethan was a trooper and got it back for us), he had previously lost his left sandal on the jet boat tour we took a few years ago in Niagara Falls… the fate of which was not as lucky as the running shoe (for all we know, it’s still circling a whirlpool in the lower Niagara River).

Woman Ziplining

I now know that while you may think you get the gist of what disconnecting and reconnecting is about, until you actually do it, you can’t imagine how wonderful it’s going to be or what memories you’re going to walk away with. I’d forgotten that in my busy, hectic, tech-dominated life of late. What I learned today is that reconnecting is something you have to choose to do. You have to plan for it, and commit to it. But that’s not to say it’s difficult. There are so many opportunities to disconnect from our computers and mobile devices and just be with one another. If you make that small commitment to disconnect, the rewards of reconnecting will stay with you for a lifetime.

My son is about to turn sixteen years old. I’m acutely aware with each passing year that he’s becoming less and less my little boy who clings to my hand, and more and more an independent young man who is making his own path in life. That’s what we want for our children, of course, but it means that we need to stay connected while we still can, and to nurture our relationships with them while there is still time. Today at Treetop Eco-Adventure Park, my son and I achieved that. We put our phones away, enjoyed a beautiful day outdoors in a beautiful setting. We had laughs that were not meme-based, and we shared memories that were not in any way overshadowed by Instagram, Tik Tok, news aps, emails, texts, SnapChat, or any of it. It was just mom and son, having a grand old time high up in the trees. Disconnected and reconnected for a few hours.

Treetop Eco-Adventure Park

53 Snow Ridge Ct., Oshawa

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