WHITEWATER RAFTING: Phase I Goes Off-the-Grid on a Spiritual Retreat

Getting away can be hard to do in our age of technology. Even when going on a day trip to the beach or to Sleeping Giant for a hike, life has a tendency to follow. In a world where a cell phone inhabits almost every pocket, truly getting away requires a little more determination. That's why Turnbridge took a group of Phase I participants on a trip this month. They went to Earthwind, a spiritual retreat center in northeastern Massachusetts. "We stayed in a giant cabin in the woods. It's all solar powered. There are no outlets in the house," says Case Manager Matt Kurowski. "You can't plug anything in -- no cell phone chargers, no Gameboy chargers or anything like that. And the light we did have during the night was very dim. So it allowed the guys to talk more -- not having electricity or anything." This lack of electricity encouraged Turnbridge participants to spend less time interacting with screens and more time interacting with each other. "At night we only had a select amount of time to have the lights on, which was pretty cool. It brought me back to my childhood days, not really being consumed by technology the whole time. I think it was really beneficial because we didn't have to rely on that sort of stuff. We were forced to be by each other day and night, which brought us much closer together," says Lukas G., now a participant in Phase II. "Prior to coming to drug rehab I was on my phone all day long. It was a really good experience. It made me appreciate not using technology to satisfy the void I had in my life." Instead, Lukas and the other Turnbridge Extended Care Sober Living participants were able to take part in trust building games and exercises like team tag -- where pairs of two must hold hands the whole time -- and carry the injured man -- where participants must carry a limp person from point A to point B. In addition to the structured team building games, there was volleyball and other conventional sports. "I was a huge soccer player growing up. There was a soccer ball there -- I was able to play around with that," Lukas says. "We played volleyball for a good amount of the time while we were there -- things I haven't done in a really long time because I didn't have any motivation to go outside and do these things." The trip culminated with a drive to the other side of Massachusetts, where the Turnbridge crew went white water rafting. Kurowski says the water was freezing and there was some light rain, but that everyone had a good time just the same. "A three, four day long trip made me personally feel like I was back in the real world, which was nice. Because all day long we're stuck in an environment where we know we're working on our recovery," Lukas says. "It was nice to get out of that zone for a while and just have fun."