Mary Katharine Ham

When it came to summer, my brothers and I were more of a Country-Time Lemonade ad than a wacky 80s camp movie. There were no grand plots or schemes, no planned activities, just lazy drifting from one idea to the next. Done climbing the magnolia tree? Run up the street to sneak into the neighbor’s yard and pick cherries. Done with that? Race bikes no-handed down the big hill on Norton St. Skin your knee? Splash some Bactine on that sucker and get back out there.

I wasn’t always the indoor, Internet kid you see before you today. So, this week I’ll prove it. I’ll ride the 300-ft. zipline into the lake, toddle and waver through the ropes course, try to rediscover my upper-body strength on the climbing wall, and do all of it while keeping up with 10 teenage girls. Just try that without your Outlook calendar.

When you’ve been in D.C. for a couple of years, it’s good to remind yourself every now and then that the world moves on, even when you’re not within the life-giving reach of a cell tower. It’s good to remember that, even when your skin has faded to that sickly color politely known around town as “bureaucrat,” that your soul is tawny and sun-kissed; that your heel-clad feet haven’t forgotten how to barefoot it down a gravel road.

The last time I was offline for a week, I had one of the best weeks of my life. I hope this week proves to be the same, not just for me, but for a group of teenagers who could also use a break from the city—a chance to remember that there’s more to life than video games, trips to McDonald’s, and house parties.

Pray for me, folks. I may need it. Does anyone know if Internet withdrawal causes chills?

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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