The CEO of Retreat Guru talks to us about changes in the way psychedelic retreats are run, and what he thinks the future of the psychedelic industry may look like.
Cameron Wenaus is the CEO and co-founder of Retreat Guru – the largest global platform for finding consciousness evolution retreats of any kind. In this interview, available to watch in full below, Cameron shares with Lorna his experience and insights into what the data trends suggest for present and future of psychedelic retreats.
After being introduced to the world of psychedelics through building meditation websites, Cameron realized that there was not a single online database where you could find information about transformative retreats: yoga, meditation, breathwork and plant medicines, all in one. So he decided to create it together with his brother Deryk – and Retreat Guru was born.
Cameron aims to build trust in the Retreat Guru database by developing richer content, including video reviews and more reviews from different platforms. However, he gives advice to all people searching for a retreat to not just rely on testimonies, but to also do their own research. To stay safe, retreat-goers should call up their centers before going, get to know the organizers, and also seek out people in their community who have attended the retreat to get fully reliable testimonies.
Looking at the data, Cameron describes that retreats are now generally running for shorter lengths of time, perhaps to attract a wider demographic. Centers are focusing more on preparation and integration, usually offering some kind of in-house preparation and de-briefing services. Cameron is also seeing more third party businesses offering courses on preparation and integration, designed to go alongside psychedelic retreat experiences.
A huge growth in the popularity of magic mushrooms is also happening in the psychedelic retreat industry. Whereas ayahuasca was the plant medicine that started the psychedelic retreat industry boom, magic mushrooms could be the natural psychedelics that bring plant medicine ceremonies worldwide, largely in part to the growing decriminalization movement.
This introduces the question of legality. Despite rapidly changing laws worldwide, psychedelics are still mostly illegal. So does Retreat Guru list retreats in countries where psychedelics are illegal?
Cameron explains that the database does not list retreats in countries that have strict prohibition of psychedelics, but will list retreats located in legal “grey zones,” where ceremonies can operate without too much risk of causing legal issues. Having said that, Cameron also recognizes the need for illegal, underground ceremonies in the psychedelic movement, as a companion to the anchors of legal retreat centers.
When it comes to COVID precautions being taken at retreat centers, Cameron has noted a huge variance, just as there is huge variance in the general safety standards at different retreats. He recommends finding the centers that align with your concerns and make you feel safe.
As for the future of the industry, Cameron predicts that technology will become more and more intertwined with psychedelic ceremonies. He imagines that technologies like brainwave monitoring will become commonplace in the retreat industry, and that this kind of tech could also expand ceremonies more into the home. He envisions retreats that start several days or weeks before the in-person ceremony, with everyone meeting online from their own homes, and starting the process of technology-assisted preparation together, remotely.
- How COVID has impacted retreat statistics, whether the market is making a comeback, and what aspects of the psychedelic experience retreat centers are refocusing on
- Which new up-and-coming psychedelic retreats are being offered, and in which countries
- How Retreat Guru handles the ‘grey’ and ‘black’ zones of psychedelic retreat center operation in light of the dynamically changing psychedelic regulations
- The dangers and benefits of mixing spiritual lineages together and some essential ways to vet your first psychedelic retreat
About Cameron Wenaus
In the late 90s, Cameron and his brother, Deryk, devoted themselves to web development and meditation – combining these two passions came naturally and they spent years building websites for the retreat centers they were staying at. Eventually, they started working with ayahuasca, and Cameron also incorporated yoga into his array of consciousness-evolving activities. At some point, out of frustration that a retreat center database with reviews was nowhere to be found online, the idea for Retreat Guru was born – Deryk and Cameron took to founding what is now the largest global a retreat marketplace and community for retreat centers and participants to find each other. Cameron believes that the different wisdom lineages such as yoga, meditation, and shamanism all point to an understanding and direct experience of vastness. He is still a practitioner of Buddhism and teaches meditation in his small mountain town in British Columbia.
Where to Find Cameron