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