Kick Your Tech Addiction At This Camp

Maybe we had it right as kids all along.

For those among us tired of the steady glow of tiny screens, of the idiosyncrasies of social networks and the digitization of books, music – almost any thing, really, that’s a thing – maybe the answer to bringing it all into balance is something we’ve already done and somewhere we’ve already been.

Who says campfires, s’mores and sleeping in tents under the stars has to be the province of the young? Because maybe what we could use is a grownup, digital detox version of summer camp.

That’s the idea, at any rate, behind Camp Grounded, a four-day getaway that takes place among the northern California redwoods where networking and shop talk are banned, and electronic devices are verboten.

This is not a place where you Instagram the group around the campfire or retreat briefly to the corner to check email. Signs, for example, gently remind participants they’re about to step off the grid. And the staging area that new arrivals pass through tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this camp:

Counselors dressed in haz-mat suits gather cell phones and other electronics in bags, where they’re taken to a “Robot Decontamination Area.”

Mind you, the camp does include little reminders of the digital creature comforts that campers leave behind. The “inbox” at Camp Grounded, for example, is a cubbie where campers can leave a paper note for someone else.  Miss the convenience of a search engine? There’s a human “search engine” here you can approach to ask a question, and the camp has its own version of Yelp, via the canteen’s board dotted with post-it notes that provide tips about the food.

Camp director Levi Felix – who goes by “Fidget Wigglesworth,” per Camp Grounded’s encouragement of silly names, harkening back to the innocence of youth – answers pretty much how you’d expect when he’s asked what he hopes people take away from Camp Grounded: “amazing friends, incredible memories and a better sense of self.”

It was set up in the first place, he says, “to give adults the chance to step back from busy life, take a break, connect, and be inspired to live a more mindful, joyful, playful life.”

To get a sense of what campers experience here, imagine the idea summer camp. Campers here have streams, swimming holes and cabins to set the physical tone. Gourmet meals, yoga, meditation, hiking, rock wall climbing, pickling, dance classes – you get the idea – all provide the activities that keep bodies and minds active and engaged.

Campers here also have learned how to do everything from making campfires to carving wood and enjoying music and dancing in the open. They do all of it free and unencumbered, reacquainted with the joy of childhood that prepares them to go back into the world refreshed, and, hopefully, changed.

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