For many of us, sauna has been a family experience. In my case, our 18 year old son has been taking saunas his whole life. We (still) have a plastic dish pan that he would sit in as a baby. He would splash around, down low, along the hot room floor. He was too young to walk or talk but he loved being part of the sauna party with his older brother of four years and his friends.
Fast forward 18 years, and our son is back from college for Winter Break. His “old crew” is back together. They bundle up and journey from house to house. As we are hit with an extra sub zero cold snap, the boys have been hitting our backyard sauna with regularity. They leave a trail. I first noticed our rapidly declining wood pile, then towels strewn about, extra socks here and there.
The frat house vibe has taken over our backyard sauna.
Our son’s friends have not grown up with sauna. Yet, they have adopted our backyard sauna with great enthusiasm. They laugh at the cold, steam billowing off their bodies between rounds in the backyard. I don’t mind the declining wood pile or the towels strewn about. I am filled with warmth, knowing how great the sauna experience is for kinship and connectivity.
“They absolutely love it, but they lose patience pretty fast.”
Sauna isn’t about saying “let’s go here” or “let’s go get food now.” Sauna is helping these teenagers slow down, be in the moment. No screens. Kinship. The power of heat and cold is helping these teenagers connect within themselves. Simple elements. Free, easy fun.
The “old crew” is starting to separate again, returning to their colleges out of town, yet the backyard sauna experience and warm memories will stay with them, until they get back together again.