No tech challenge returns with great prizes

Families get to camp out in the Aundeck Omni Kaning Four Directions Complex during the challenge.

AUNDECK OMNI KANING – The Noojmowin Teg Health Services No Technology Challenge is returning this year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever—with over a dozen families already signed up and a host of great prizes ready to be won.

Organizer Nelson Wood, Noojmowin Teg Healthy Living Coordinator, notes that the event is aimed at pulling folks away from their cellphones and other video screens in favour of non-tech activities and is open to everyone from any community on Manitoulin.

There are basically two streams to the No Technology Challenge, the overnight indoor camping stream and the daytime activity stream—folks can take part in either or both.

The 24-hour overnight event involves indoor camping, with tents supplied for those families that are unable to bring their own. Supply is limited, so calling in to register and let the organizers know is important to avoid disappointment.

Participants are encouraged to arrange to be separated from their technology. “We are hoping people will leave their phones or tablets at home or in their vehicles,” said Mr. Wood. 

“We will have a bin to deposit cellphones or tablets that will be locked up for the night,” he said.

The No Technology Challenge was born of a concern about the effects of pervasive technology on individuals. “There are issues of mental health, anxiety, it seems as if nobody is disconnected from it for any length of time these days.”

Too often parents are connected to their cellphone screens instead of being present in their children’s activities, he notes. The No Technology Challenge seeks to help caregivers reconnect with their charges. “Too many parents are half in and half out of conversations,” he said.

The No Technology Challenge event plans to bring back some “old school” activities such as board games and to encourage family events such as meal time follow a no tech at the table format.

The 24-hour No Technology Challenge event is a partnership between Noojmowin Teg Health Services and Mnaamodzawin Health Services, which are sharing the costs and the workload.

The event was quite popular in its first edition, with 60 people spending the night and 107 attending the Saturday day events. This year the overnight session can accommodate up to 80 participants. But this is a family event, not a “drop your kid off for the day” activity. “We really want people to come and engage with their families,” he said.

There will be outdoor activities, coordinated by Abbie Drolet, taking place beside the complex and plenty of indoor activities, including workshops on fan making, beading, Zumba, pillow making, bath bomb making and at least one session on footsoaking and, of course, the aforementioned board games.

There are some outstanding prizes lined up for the event such as $1,000 in camping gear, including a four-person ice fishing hut and all-season sleeping bags, some $800 in ice fishing gear and full year memberships to Science North. Included in the Science North packages are gas and food vouchers. “We want it to be barrier free,” explained Mr. Wood. “We know that for some families there are still costs involved in going to Sudbury that can act as a barrier, so we are including $50 gas vouchers and $50 food vouchers to address that.”

Those planning to attend the event are encouraged to drop a line to Mr. Wood by email at nelson.wood@noojmowin-teg.ca

The No Technology Challenge takes place February 8 to 9 at the Four Directions Complex in Aundeck Omni Kaning, with doors opening at 9 am on Saturday and the challenge running through to noon on Sunday, February 9. There is no admission fee or cost and the event is open to families across Manitoulin.