Why hammocking trend is popular with teens
Do you remember the summer between high school and college? All I wanted to do was hang out with my friends.
Kids today also want to spend as much time together as possible. They just hang out in a more literal fashion.
Welcome to the world of hammocking. Today's hammockers (yes, that is a word) have turned the age old pastime of spending a lazy afternoon in a hammock, into a life all its own. Hammocking can involve adventure, sport or just plain old chillin'.
To demonstrate this new phenomena, seven hammockers set up camp in our black walnut tree. The tree is used to inhabitants. One time, 11 Cub Scouts climbed it for a picture.
This was different. This time, seven young adults approached the 100-year-old tree as if architects designing a hammock city.
"That's part of the challenge, finding a place to hang that is sturdy and has space for the hammock," said Sarah Hager, who is headed to the University of Iowa. She will definitely be taking her hammock with her.
The youngest in the group was Matt Dauksha, who is a senior at Batavia High School. A pole vaulter, he likes to use the hammock to chill before track meets.
"It's also a social thing," he added "You can go with a group and spend time together hammocking."
It was apparent that our tree was a social spot as the seven spent the time not just answering my questions, but also joking around with each other.
Newest to the craze was Claire Dewes of St. Charles, who is headed to St. Olaf College in the fall.
"I got one because a lot of students use them in college as a way to relax and de-stress," she added.
Blake Bakkum, a sophomore at Iowa State, confirmed that it is a definite college pastime.
"There are poles at college to attach hammocks to," he said. "It's a giant pod where students can set up a hammock and read a book, or just relax."
College campuses are embracing "hammock mania" because research shows that hammocks improve social settings. Research also shows that by pulling on the hammocks slap straps, you can create a rocking motion that synchronizes with brain waves and improves concentration.
If you think that hammocking is a passive sport, I would disagree. To see what these people have to go through just to get into the hammock is impressive. Whether they shimmy up a hammock cable or hold both sides and kick up into the hammock, they have to have some amazing gymnastic moves just to gain entry.
"You definitely have to be flexible," said Sarah Wert. She will be taking her hammock to Concordia University Wisconsin.
Dewes proved that point when she immediately twisted in her hammock to an upside-down position to talk with Sarah Wert who was in a hammock below her.
Jack Gillerlain, who is taking the cost-effective route to college by first heading to Waubonsee, also found the lowest and safest limb to hang from.
"You should try it, Mrs. King, You don't need to be high up," he said. He also pointed out that EON (Eagle Nest Outfitters), a maker of lightweight portable hammocks, recommends that hammocks be a mere 18 inches off the ground.
Owen Schuster, the hammocker who went the highest, will be taking his hammock to Carleton College this fall. He is a "have hammock will travel" type of guy, having taken his hammock on trips on other continents.
"It's a stress reliever and it's a way to connect with nature," he said.
Sometimes that nature connection can be a bad thing.
"I was in my hammock at night and I thought I saw a bunny. A skunk sprayed me pretty bad. I now know that bunnies don't come out at night," he said with a smile.
Although the group has stacked a number of hammocks between two trees, this was the first time with all of them at various levels and areas in a large tree. Once they were all in the tree, there was laughter and conversation. They were happy in the moment. And no one worried about how tough it was going to be to get down.