Camp: To break a tech ad­dic­tion, a trip to a gadget-free camp

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFESTYLE TRENDS -

CON­TIN­UED FROM PAGE 9 tech­nol­ogy. Rather than merely ac­cept so­cial me­dia’s in­tru­sions, some tech-savvy folks are re­think­ing their at­tach­ment to elec­tronic de­vices.

Groups like Re­boot have be­gun to ad­vo­cate for dig­i­tal sab­baths. Jaron Lanier, a pi­o­neer in the field of vir­tual re­al­ity, has be­gun to speak out against the de­hu­man­iz­ing down­sides of tech­nol­ogy.

As for Mr. Felix, he used to work at Cause­, a cor­po­rate phi­lan­thropy plat­form, but af­ter long hours and a bad diet landed him in the hos­pi­tal, he re-eval­u­ated his pri­or­i­ties. He sold his car and trav­eled for two and a half years. He spent time in South­east Asia, let­ting his facial hair grow like a wizard’s.

“I had the op­por­tu­nity to step away from ‘the mod­ern world’ for a lit­tle bit,” Mr. Felix said. “I went on my hero’s jour­ney and I es­caped. A lot of peo­ple who do that never come back. They live vagabond lives. I came back, and my cause was to show peo­ple how to con­nect, how to shed th­ese rules and un­writ­ten codes we bought into.”

He founded Dig­i­tal Detox last year. Camp Grounded was de­signed less to be a spir­i­tual jour­ney than a whimsical re­turn to child­hood. Campers, who spent $300 for the week­end, were sent maps, in­struc­tions and a sug­gested pack­ing list of clothes.

Men and women were sep­a­rated and bunked in three-walled cab­ins. The ri­fle range had been recon­ceived as a type­writer range, and a yurt had been erected near a stream and used as an all-night tea lounge. There was skinny-dip­ping at the swim­ming hole. An old bus parked in a clear­ing hosted a late-night con­cert.

Meals were ve­gan vari­a­tions on sum­mer camp sta­ples: One night it was gluten­free “mac ’n’ cheese.” To hear some of the campers tell it, giv­ing up meat was harder than giv­ing up tech­nol­ogy. For the most part, though, com­plaints were few and con­flicts nonex­is­tent. As for love, any fears (or fan­tasies) that this would hap­pen went un­re­al­ized. It seemed ev­ery­one re­verted to a pread­o­les­cent state of in­no­cent crushes and hand-hold­ing.

One night, I found my­self ly­ing on my back, gaz­ing up at the night sky. The only other times I’d seen the con­stel­la­tions so clearly were when I glanced up at the ceil­ing in Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal in New York City.

Some­where out­side of Camp Grounded, iPhones were buzzing with the break­ing news of Ru­pert Mur­doch’s di­vorce and Kim Kar­dashian’s baby.

But I was look­ing for shoot­ing stars, not re­al­ity ones. And for once, I was en­joy­ing the si­lence.

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