From Remember to Wonder
“I remember how amazing laughter is!”- Sophia, 16-year-old participant
We all experienced so many absences during the pandemic—the people, places, and things that made us feel good, safe, and alive. To remember them, we had no choice but to rely on our memories and recall the imprints they had made on our hearts and minds.
However, there is a more powerful way to remember—through experiencing. For instance, it’s one thing to remember what a carrot cake tastes like through thinking, but it’s an entirely different experience to remember its taste by actually savoring it.
Last year, we returned to a full schedule of in-person retreats. Whether teens or staff members were attending their first retreat or their tenth, everyone experienced a level of fervor unlike during the pre-pandemic years. Everyone had something to remember—
This is what my breath feels like when I’m relaxed.
This is what it’s like to be within a caring community who sees the real me.
This is what’s on the other side of a tough emotion when I allow myself to feel it.
This is what it’s like to be untethered from my phone.
This is what the morning sun feels like on my face.
Ahhh, to remember.
And with enough remembering, the pain of what was lost was healed, and those on retreat were able to move towards embracing the present, just as it is, in all its wonder.
To every member of our community—teens, parents, teachers, mentors, community partners, committee members, board, and staff—thank you. We’ve supported each other in countless ways over the past three years and have gotten to this point of renewal, where we have the space to wonder again. We can’t wait to see what we create and who we become together.
In deep gratitude,
Inward Bound Mindfulness’ Collaborative Leadership Team
“I learned that I can survive in and actually enjoy unfamiliar social settings, especially after COVID.”
– 16-year-old participant (three retreats attended)
A Summer to Remember
After a two-year hiatus, our full schedule of summer retreats returned!
We all know the reality of how disruptive the past few years have been. And though we have collectively endured the disruption and uncertainty, Inward Bound’s teens, families, and staff were beyond thrilled to safely return to a full season of teen summer retreats.
Across the country, we held five in-person mindfulness retreats, offering teens and retreat staff a moment to pause, unplug, practice mindfulness together, and find joy in the magic of our retreats. Please enjoy some of this magic captured in the pictures below. For more inspiration, check out the full story on our blog.
BONUS: Take in this poem offered by Desiree about her first retreat.
“I am not my suffering. I’ve learned how to ease into ease and find self-love.”
– 19-year-old participant (three retreats attended)
From in-person retreats to online courses and conferences, our programs provided transformative experiences to youth and youth-serving adults across the United States.
Teen Leaders Shared their Wisdom
For a second straight year, we partnered with Copper Beech Institute to present an intergenerational panel discussion to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The four Inward Bound youth leaders on the panel reflected on his legacy and examined the collective responsibility we have to face the many civil rights challenges that still persist today.
New Post-Teen Retreat Offering
In an effort to sustain and deepen the benefits of our teen retreats, we partnered with Evolving Minds to offer a new post-retreat program for participants. The Resilient Leaders Program included sharing circles, breakout discussions, and experiential practices to support teens in tending to their mental wellbeing in daily life and further incorporating what they learned on retreat.
Support for Youth-Serving Professionals
As part of our growing list of custom offerings and projects, our faculty provided support to the youth-serving staff of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. This year-long engagement included online courses, conference presentations, and workshops that focused on personal wellbeing and professional development.
Congrats to the Newest Inward Bound Teaching Training Graduates!
Last summer marked the final retreat for the 43 youth-serving professionals who participated in our third Mindfulness Teaching Training cohort. Since 2017, 130 teachers have graduated from the yearlong, internationally accredited program. Thousands of youth in schools and other community settings throughout North America have been impacted by our teacher training graduates. The Teacher Training program is also a key way to grow our faculty—in fact, the entire teaching staff for our 2022 Northeast Summer Retreat graduated from the first cohort! Enrollment for the fourth cohort is now complete and instruction will begin this summer.
“I learned that emotional and physical discomfort is something I can acknowledge instead of avoid.”
– 19-year-old participant (first retreat attended)
With the pandemic mostly behind us, our impact increased in breadth and depth, while the need for tuition support hit an all-time high.
In addition to the infographic below, here’s a look at the diversity of our teen retreat participants last year:
- 45% of participants identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual+ (LGBTQIA+).
- 43% of participants identified as Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC).
- 19% of participants identified as neurodiverse.
- 68% of participants accessed therapy in the past year.
- 72% of participants were attending their first retreat.
- 17 was the participants’ average age.
- $66,936 was the average household income reported.
95% of teens agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend Inward Bound retreats to a friend
97% of teens agreed or strongly agreed that they
had an overall positive experience on the retreat
– Survey results from seven teen retreats
Inward Bound’s Collaborative Leadership Team includes a staff leadership team of seven and five community committees with a total of 31 members. We began developing our Collaborative Leadership System in 2017 to support our vision of an accountable and transparent governance model whose leaders are representative of the diverse community we serve.
Our New Strategic Vision – We are boundless.
After two years of dedicated effort from staff, board, and committee members during the pandemic, Inward Bound launched a new three-year strategic vision and plan titled “We are boundless”. Once fulfilled, the organization will have brought life-changing programs to thousands of teens across the country and solidified Inward Bound’s long-term sustainability as a leader in mindfulness education for teens, young adults, and youth-serving professionals.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee Updates
Our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee (DEIAC) approved a new Equity Lens to help inform programs, processes, policies, and decision-making throughout the organization. The DEIAC’s other accomplishments included:
- hosting quarterly community conversations, which were primarily youth-led and had an average of 20 participants per session;
- updating and expanding the equity training program received by all of our retreat staff, including teachers, mentors, health and mental health coordinators, and managers;
- increasing the number of assistant teachers for our retreats who are BIPOC; and,
- cultivating BIPOC- and LGBTQIA+-centered programmatic partnerships.
Inward Bound Staff Interviewed on Collaborative Leadership
Staff members Sarah Wrean and David Macek were invited to join the live video broadcast of The Nonprofit Show to discuss Inward Bound’s Collaborative Leadership (CL) System. Sarah and David shared Inward Bound’s motivation for adopting CL, walked through the five core systems of CL, and provided an honest reflection on our successes and challenges so far.
“The community was so uplifting and full of love. It was so transformative to be in an environment that was so supportive.”
– 19-year-old participant (five retreats attended)
As anticipated and budgeted for accordingly, Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 was a transitional year for us financially, reflecting the challenges of the pandemic.
Due to several variables—such as multi-year pledge commitments, retreat center capacity restrictions, and pandemic/inflation-related budget shifts, including skyrocketing travel costs—we sustained a net loss across the majority of our programs in FY 2022. However, when considering the three fiscal years of the pandemic together (FYs 2020–2022), we were able to maintain a net profit of $155,441.
While the pandemic decreased our program service revenue for several years, we are now bouncing back. Inward Bound is now rebuilding our audience base and recommencing a full schedule of in-person, full-capacity retreat offerings. Looking at the year ahead, our 2023 retreat schedule will welcome back more regions and new custom projects. Given this, we are pleased to share that our overall FY 2023 budget was approved with a modest positive net-profit.
Donations and program fees are re-adjusting to their pre-pandemic levels and we continue to operate in a way that means no teen or young adult is ever turned away for lack of funds. We anticipate that the years ahead will be brighter from a financial perspective.
For a deeper dive into our financial history and outlook, please explore the Management Discussion and Analysis that is part of our FY 2022 Audit.
“The dance party and meditation under the stars was absolutely amazing and something I will never forget.”
– 18-year-old participant (first retreat attended)
On behalf of our entire community, especially our teens, thank you for being a supporter of and advocate for young people’s healthy minds and compassionate hearts.
Together, we are upholding our founding promise of ensuring that every teen who wants to attend our life-changing programs is able to, regardless of their household’s capacity to afford tuition. Every member of our community—teens, parents, donors, staff, board, and committee members—plays a vital role in sustaining this beautiful cycle of generosity whereby resources flow from where they exist to where they are needed, allowing us all to thrive together.
It’s time to get ready for summer.
Every summer, hundreds of teens from across the country sign up for our “more than a summer camp” mindfulness retreats to discover and be themselves among a caring community of peers and mentors. Help us make this the best summer yet!