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Siblings spend a week without power or technology

It started as a joke according to Angela Johnson.

From left: Vanessa Johnson, Britney Johnson, Layla Johnson, Casey Johnson, Ashley Dias and Michael Dias have fun in a wheelbarrow during their self-imposed survival week. Without television or toys, the kids made their own fun by making up games and by talking with one another. Photo provided by Angela Johnson

While talking to her children about how kids these days get everything handed to them, someone in the room suggested that the kids try and live outside for a few days by themselves to see what life would have been like before modern technology.

At first, Johnson doubted that her kids could manage more than a day or two without modern technology, but the seven kids were resolved to try nonetheless.

So Johnson gathered up lanterns, four plates, two pans, an assortment of foodstuffs, one blanket for each kid and put it all outside in their side yard.

The deal eventually struck between Johnson and her kids was that if they could live outside for a few days with minimal help from mom, they would be rewarded with a trip to Reno to see 47 Meters Down, and would get to go to Applebee’s for diner and Chili’s for a chocolate lava cake desert.

Of course, Johnson supervised the kids and had a view of them from her window the entire time they were in the side yard.

But, as it turned out, Johnson had little reason to worry.

Over the course of the six days, her kids proved resilient and learned how to survive on their own.

Thirteen-year-old Britney Johnson said that the hardest day was the first, because everything was new and hard to master.

For example, in a particularly frustrating episode, the kids took a 30-minute trip to a nearby creek and back to retrieve water only to find that the bucket they carried the water back in had a hole in the bottom and was completely empty.

On the first day, the kids also had to learn how to make a fire by themselves, but they eventually learned how to do it when they discovered that the lantern oil they were carrying around helped spur on the fire’s growth exponentially.

During the first night, some of the kids slept in makeshift teepees while others slept in a wall-less wooden shed in the backyard.

Vanessa Johnson said that it was so dark outside during the night that she could hardly believe it.

“I couldn’t even see my hands,” she exclaimed.

During the first night, a bear, which Johnson had seen on her property before, walked around the backyard scaring 5-year-old Vanessa Johnson and causing her to eventually quit and go inside.

“It was pretty much scary,” she said.

After the initial bear visit though, Johnson moved the kids into a wooden shed and surrounded it with fencing so that the bear couldn’t get to them.

The days that followed went by quickly and before anyone knew it, Saturday arrived.

The only challenging part of the rest of the week was staying entertained without technology, but the kids learned to make makeshift toys and play areas on their own to fill the void.

“As the week went on they got a whole lot better,” Johnson said.

Indeed, Britney Johnson said she learned a lot and believes the experience was well worth it.

“I learned to be grateful for what I have now because it was hard back in the day [without] technology,” she said.”

She says she also got to spend a lot more time with her family than she normally does because she had far more time to talk without television or phones distracting her.

Britney Johnson now hopes to have a new survival week in the winter when it is snowing to make it more challenging, but her mother is not sold on the idea, yet.

Regardless, all the kids were happy to make it through the week and are looking forward to doing something similar in the near future.   

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