In a world outside mainstream society, anything can happen.
Barter instead of cash, solar, wind and water instead of electric, 'No Trespassing' signs,
homeschooling instead of Common Core, more time to be yourself, less time to lay around.
But, living that thin line between utopia and dystopia means it’s the wilderness against your little Garden of Eden.
And you and your family are the only thing standing between anarchy and order.
Like any other young person, off-grid kids require constant engagement and diverse sources to feed their imaginative, growing minds. But when you are born and raised on, say, a 200 acre mountain surrounded by untouched woods, the way you satisfy those needs is very different from your typical 21st century youngster.
Meet the independent Bergan sisters who live on a 200 acre family farm and fiery only-child, Salum'mia, who divides her time between her parents and their two off-grid homes. Instead of switching through games on an iPad, they play with BB guns in the woods. Then, dressed up in vintage prom gowns and thrift-store wigs, they play “grown up” and take roles of a traditional nuclear family, feeding their baby dolls and inventing scenarios of a conventional mother. Later, instead of say, guiding a video game character through a series of jump moves, they take over the trampoline.
But growing up off-grid means work and play, imagination and reality, are inextricably linked. The Bergan sisters and Salum’mia learn real lessons every day. They watched their black rabbit give birth to baby bunnies one day and the whole litter die the next. They didn’t shed a tear because they have come to understand that death is part of life. The 7-year-old, armed with artistic advice, assists her father as he carves tables and boats with a chain saw. Salum’mia understands the danger and the privilege. Caution, creativity, and alertness spread across her face. And in the home, the girls time their baths or appliance charging with the weather. Sunny or cloudy, rain or drought-shine, for off-grid kids, Mother Nature’s shifting moods have a big say, each day.
Growing up off the grid in the 21st century does not mean giving up technology altogether. – After all, today’s discoveries are a powerful tool for learning about other cultures, history, and keeping up with current events around the world. But living this alternative way of life does mean developing strong personal opinions and understandings on how to survive on your own (let alone support your family) without reliance on modern society. It forces you to grow an innate understanding of available resources and how your surroundings can be most useful in everyday life. Instead of mindless chores, every day requires patience, an interconnection with your surroundings, and a fine-tuned understanding of the resources required to maintain them.
Living off-grid is hard work. But just like our grandparents might say, growing up without conveniences and learning what it takes to obtain them develops not only an appreciation for your place in the world, but grants the best kind of freedom, too. By playing an active and involved role in your environment, you develop the sense of creative independence that comes with knowing you’d do just fine without the “conveniences” of modern life: a reality most people spend their whole lives thinking they could not live without.
But best of all, whether your family packed up in the 1970s or just moved in the last few years, going “back to the land” and “living off grid” means spending less time in daily traffic or lounging in front of the TV and more time together as a family, surrounded by nature.