Tech Addicts Can Detox at Summer Camp

By Ben Feuerherd 04/04/13

A California retreat promises relief—if you hand over your smartphone.

Burned out on technology? Time to detox.
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Internet, gaming and smartphone addiction (all under the "tech addiction" umbrella) are the newest opium of the masses. To help sufferers break free, a couple of former tech junkies in California have created Camp Grounded, a four-day summer getaway for adults wishing to unplug. The camp, which debuts this June, is run by Digital Detox, a "wellness retreat" center for tech addicts in Anderson Valley, California. "Our goal is to create an experience that transforms people’s lives," Levi Felix, camp director and co-founder of Digital Detox tells The Fix. Felix, 28, was working for a San Francisco start-up when he "got burnt out" with the tech world and went to live without Internet access on a Cambodian island. There he became aware of how dependent on technology he'd become. Felix teamed up with Ben Hanna, now Camp Grounded's camp coordinator, who also used to work in the start-up world. "We took a step back to evaluate how our lives had changed because of the tools we were creating and using," says Hanna, also 28. Their Digital Detox programs are "run as retreats, but with some similar benefits of rehab," he explains. "We also provide structured time to talk about how participants are feeling in a caring atmosphere, with yoga and meditation to nurture the mind." All events are entirely drug-, alcohol- and gadget-free. A strict policy of "physical separation from the smartphone" is enforced, with participants expected to leave their devices behind. "We have a 'Phone Check,'" Hanna explains, "where we will actually take their phone and store it in our secure office...We remove the triggers from the participants' lives for a short time."

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Benjamin Feuerherd is a city reporter at the New York Post. He has previously worked for The Daily Beast and NBC. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter