UPDATE #4: May 25, 2021
Dear iBme Community,
We are thrilled to confirm that we are moving forward with our planning of one in-person teen retreat in July 2021, in Massachusetts.
After carefully and thoroughly weighing all scenarios of how we can minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission during this in-person retreat, we have made the decision to require all staff and teens who attend our Massachusetts Summer Teen Retreat to be fully vaccinated by arrival day, July 25.*
We are choosing to prioritize the safety of iBme retreat staff, teens, and their families, as well as the staff of Prindle Pond retreat center, where the retreat will be held. Our utmost concern is that we minimize the risk of anyone becoming severely ill with COVID-19. The science strongly suggests that the safest way to gather in person at this time, with consideration that we will be indoors and overnight in shared space, is to have all parties be fully vaccinated.
To keep everyone safe we will:
- Host the retreat at a Retreat Center where all staff are vaccinated and will be masked while indoors;
- Operate in full compliance with most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health;
- Limit room capacity to 2 people per dorm room.
In addition, we will require that all retreat participants, parents of minor retreat participants, and staff sign a waiver certifying that they are vaccinated, and know there is still no way to guarantee safety, and that iBme will do all it can to minimize the transmission risks of COVID.
We honor, and regret, that this decision won’t make it possible for everyone to attend. This news may come as a disappointment to a teen out there who was really hoping to come in person to an iBme retreat right now. However, we will still be holding four online retreats during July, for teens and young adults ages 15-25. There will be a retreat held in Eastern time and one in Pacific time, as well as two retreats specifically for LGBTQIA+ folx and BIPOC folx. We welcome all to participate—and, as always, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
In making this decision, input was solicited from full-time staff, the retreat staff team, parents, participating teens, our Teachers Advisory Council, the staff at Prindle Pond Retreat Center, and public health experts. We did not make this decision lightly, and will revisit protocol after this summer for our New Year’s retreats and beyond. At this time, this policy is in effect for the MA Summer 2021 Retreat.
iBme remains committed to offering mindfulness programming for *all* teens who want to be part of the practice, and will continue to offer online retreats and drop-in programming for connection and community.
With care and love,
Sarah, Tonya, David, Arielle, Tom and Jen
*Fully Vaccinated: An individual is fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series — aka the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine – aka Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. This means that the second vaccination for the 2-dose series needs to be administered by July 11, 2021.
Dear Beloved iBme Community,
We wanted to provide you with an update as to our process and thinking around gathering together in person in summer 2021. We know it’s been a really long year, and that many of you are longing to be gathered together. We also know many of you are not yet comfortable doing so. We have received input and feedback from all corners of our community and the sentiments range from excitement about being in person to total fear. We hear you.
We have decided to move ahead in planning one in-person teen retreat (ages 15-19) in summer 2021—in Massachusetts. Our hope is that by putting all our energy into offering one in-person retreat, we will be able to adhere to the CDC guidelines for Summer Camps, keep everyone as safe as possible and be together, and we won’t run the risk of having to cancel a second whole summer’s worth of plans.
We know that one retreat will not be able to include everyone either based on personal circumstances, comfort level, logistical considerations like timing, retreat center capacity, or perhaps other unnamed factors. For that reason, we will also offer four online teen and young adult retreats—one in each East and West time zones, one specifically for Teens and Young Adults of Color, and one specifically for LGBTQIA+ community members.
We expect that the final decision about whether we will hold the in-person retreat will be made by the first week of June 2021. Part of the decision will be based on the number signed up for the retreat—we need a minimum of 15 people to run an in-person retreat. We will be using public health guidelines from the CDC, along with your input, to make the decision whether we can gather in person safely and ethically. If we decide *not* to do the in-person retreat, full refunds will be given and, in place of in-person retreats, we will run additional online retreat during the same dates that the in-person retreats were scheduled.
When making this decision, some of the specific aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ll be taking into consideration are:
- can we safely say “all are welcome” and really mean it;
- what are current travel and quarantine restrictions to and from the states where retreats will be held: California and Massachusetts;
- whether vaccination and/or negative COVID tests would be required before attending retreat; and,
- how many folks can safely gather at the retreat centers we work with and what kind of daily safety protocols are appropriate.
Our biggest concern and priority is the safety and protection of all our retreatants, teachers, and staff. We are so very eager to be back together in person, and also feel the weight of the decision that will impact many members of our community, one way or the other.
With care and love,
The iBme Team (Sarah, Tonya, Tom, Arielle, David, and Jen)
We have made the difficult decision to transition our June and July in-person retreats to online retreats. This includes NorCal, TOC West, Virginia, Michigan, and Kentucky. Some retreats in the same time zone will be hosted online together. While there is sadness that we won’t be together in person, we also see opportunity in this. We welcome you to join from your home, anywhere!
We have not yet made a decision on the status of our late July and August retreats including SoCal, Pacific Northwest, Massachusetts, and TOC East. We plan to have more info on these by mid-May.
We continue to offer dynamic online programming to support our community in practice at this time. Please check out our calendar for the latest information.
We know that these are stressful, unpredictable times, and we are more grateful than ever to be able to rely on our mindfulness practice as a resource. Even in this moment, as you read this email, can you feel your feet on the ground, the weight of your body sitting or standing? Can you allow your breath to deepen and soften?
iBme is closely monitoring COVID-19 as the situation unfolds. While we are still months away from our summer teen retreat season, we will continue to track the implications it may have for retreats and update our community as new information unfolds and decisions are made by our team and network of partners. We are following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as restrictions set by state and local governments. We remain committed to delivering our in-depth retreat programming this summer while holding the health and safety of retreat participants and their families as a top priority.
If you were planning on registering yourself or your child for a summer retreat, we encourage you to do so. At this time all retreats are scheduled to take place as planned. If you sign up for a retreat that is eventually canceled, we will refund 100% of your retreat tuition. Our program staff is currently developing a backup curriculum for hosting online experiences to potentially replace retreats that may be canceled due to COVID-19, as well as other online practice resources for teens. We will be experimenting with an online model this coming week with our Harvard student retreat.
In this time of uncertainty, our hearts particularly go out to those people who are being most impacted by COVID-19 through the health of loved ones and its economic implications. We are cultivating compassion, discerning skillful actions, and wishing ease and well being to all those affected and to each of you. May we be well in body and mind, may we care for ourselves and each other, may we be at ease.
We will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks and we hope to be able to provide more online practice resources to support you all. In the meantime, check out the guided meditations on our website from our teachers across the country. You might find Khalila’s RAIN meditation for working with difficult emotions particularly helpful right now, or a Loving Kindness practice from Jessica.
Wishing you well,
The iBme Team