Our Return to a Full Summer of Teen Retreats

We all know the reality of how disruptive the past few years have been. And though we have collectively endured disruption and uncertainty, our iBme staff & community managed to excitedly, safely, expertly, and compassionately host a full season of teen summer retreats!

Across the country, five in-person mindfulness retreats were held, offering teens and retreat teachers & mentors a moment to pause, unplug, practice mindfulness together, and find joy in the playfulness and empathy of iBme retreats.

Below are highlights, photos, testimonials, and our Top 10 Takeaways from this season. We also included below a few mindfulness resources for all teens.

 

Our Top Takeaways

New Era of Retreats

After a 2-year hiatus, we safely returned to a full schedule of summer retreats! The gap resulted in many of our past alumni aging-out. A record-high 78% of participants were first-timers this summer (compared with 55% in 2019). Welcome to a new era of iBme teens! And they felt right at home—remarkably, only two teens across the five retreats made the decision to go home.

The Joy of Mentoring

The power of iBme retreats doesn’t just have teens coming back for more. It also has its impact on the youth-serving adults, as was evident this summer when the manager of our NorCal Retreat asked if anymore help was needed with the remaining summer retreats. With registration full for our Northeast Retreat, we were actually in need of some last-minute mentors. Our program staff let her know if she could get herself to Connecticut, we’d have a room ready for her. Say no more, she was there ready to go for retreat #2!

Teen Mental Health Crisis

Amidst the magic and fun of teen retreats, another reality for teens must be taken seriously—the states of their mental and emotional health. Retreat staff reported back that there were noticeable differences between now and 2019. Impacts of pandemic isolation and the state of global issues have definitely weighed heavy on the minds and hearts of youth.

No Cushions, No Problems in NorCal!

Note to self #1 – If you need new supplies for a summer retreat and there’s a global supply shortage, consider ordering them waaaaay in advance.

Note to self #2 – Even if those supplies were critical to the retreat experience (ahem…like meditation cushions), have no worry, the grace and brilliance of iBme teens and staff will allow everyone to thrive regardless!

The Edges of Comfort and Growth

Did you hear the joke about the introvert and the extrovert that walk into an iBme Teen Retreat? They both found what they were and weren’t looking for.

The genius of iBme’s approach to immersive mindfulness is the balance between silent and guided personal practices and interactive, relational practices. For the introverts, practices like Noble Silence are a welcomed gift that provides a nurturing space for recentering after lively group time. For the extroverts, activities like Hot Seat are the perfect opportunity to express themselves and engage with the community after the few hours of silence that felt like an eternity.

This dance between times of comfort and challenge is the recipe for growth. Which is why we say, on iBme retreats everyone gets what they need!

Healing Justice

While every retreat journey has a familiar ark of transformation, we never quite know what will emerge for each individual and the collective. In the case of the 4th Annual Teens of Color Retreat, teens self-initiated and stretched into a place that welcomed past traumas and deep wounds. In the words of program staff member, Tonya Jones, the teens that showed up for the retreat “came with a mission, and found some deep healing”.

And that’s the beauty of the iBme retreat environment and the staff who nurture it – they are both grounded in being as responsive as possible to the needs of the moment while wielding an eye towards transformation.

It’s “gender expansive”.

This season, we saw a growing number of LGBTQ+ teens on retreat, and learned from them how they are choosing to identify themselves.

At 45% of all participants, LGTBQ+ teens on retreat this summer reached a new high mark. Young people are not only pushing beyond the boundaries of historically dominant identities; they are embodying this expansive and pluralistic view in the world as they take on our most pressing social issues.

Thinking Bigger

As we emerge from the pandemic, iBme leadership has also been hard at work, developing a long-term strategy for the organization. This strategy includes expanding to new regions, recognizing the communities in which mindfulness is beginning to emerge, providing custom retreats for school communities and organizations, and broadening our Teacher Training program to reach more BIPOC teachers and youth-serving professionals. With our focus on key initiatives, we are building a sustainable and scalable approach that will deepen the value for and impact of immersive mindfulness experiences for youth.

Resources