Bobbilee Hartman first dreamt of a scenario like this back in 2014, while working as a software engineer in San Diego, CA. Tired of attending sterile work conferences, she wondered what it would look like to bring people together and provide the elements of professional events she enjoyed, such as panels and workshops, in a more engaging environment that encouraged people to connect on a deeper level.
Soon, Hartman discovered Rails Camp, an event for web technologists to get off the grid. Realizing the event was a lot like her idea for a new unplugged retreat, Hartman began running a U.S. version. The event was a huge success and, after getting her feet wet with event planning, Hartman decided she wanted to create a series of retreats that were open to more than just engineers—and so Lodged Out was born.
The first Lodged Out retreat took place on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. The event centered around the theme of women makers. Having spent so much time working on a computer, Hartman’s inspiration stemmed from her own curiosities. “I was like, how do people get into making shit with their hands?” Hartman told Supermaker. “That’s how it started.”
Hartman has been running different iterations of these retreats since 2014, and has now organized retreats for groups of lawyers, makers, entrepreneurs, and more. She has held events across the country, from Upstate New York to Eastern Washington and, soon, Alaska. In order to make events accessible to as many people as possible, Hartman also works to offer scholarships for individuals who may not have the financial means to otherwise attend. Carefully choosing every venue to optimize for natural environment and, ideally, lack of cell reception, Lodged Out’s priority is to get as many people as possible back outside to “play like we used to.”
Hartman has a longstanding tradition of unplugging, and tries to do so every Sunday in order to reconnect with herself before heading back into the work week. The clarity and inspiration she’s found through this practice is part of the reason she prioritizes lack of phone service and WiFi at her retreats. “When you aren’t distracted [by technology] the days seem a lot longer. You get more creativity and can think about things for a longer period of time,” Hartman said.