Prep for Your Retreat

Prep for Your Retreat

Here’s everything you need to prepare for your upcoming retreat!

What do we do on retreat?

This retreat is an opportunity to get to know ourselves better and begin to develop a calm and discerning mind. By doing this we can begin to live our lives with greater ease, clarity, confidence, and satisfaction.

This retreat welcomes teens from all walks of life and lived experiences and identities of racial/ethnic groups, sexuality and gender expression, abilities, backgrounds, and religions. The practice of mindfulness creates a foundation for conversations that support understanding and deepen our connection to one another.

We’ll spend time throughout each day learning and practicing some ancient techniques for quieting the mind, including sitting and walking meditation. (If you’re new to these practices, you’ll get plenty of instruction and have the chance to ask questions.) Soon we’ll begin to see how the stability of our minds is affected by thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. We’ll also see this by spending some of our time together in silence, without verbal, visual, or physical contact with one another.

We’ll also bring our mindful attention into group discussions, creative activities, after-meal clean-up, and free time. Through being aware of our interactions with others we can be ourselves and get to know each other in a more authentic way. Moving between inner and outer worlds helps us develop the flexibility to stay calm and alert in any situation, free from distracting thoughts, ideas, feelings, fears, and habits.

Over the course of our time together we’ll live by mutual agreements made by everyone on the retreat that provide us the chance to show respect for ourselves and each other. We’ll agree to protect life by not harming any living being, respect others’ belongings, refrain from romantic and sexual behavior during the retreat, speak kindly and honestly, and keep a clear mind by not using alcohol or drugs during the retreat.

Being on retreat can be challenging – following a schedule, trying new things that may not feel easy or normal. We ask that teens come with a commitment to participate in all activities and be willing to engage with the challenges that may arise. Our dedicated mentors and teachers are skilled at supporting teens through the natural resistance that sometimes does occur when practicing mindfulness. We will meet you with respect in this process!

Take a look at a retreat sample schedule.

View a sample schedule

Teen expressing during group

Packing list for retreats in summer/warm weather

Bring clothing to last for 6 days and 5 nights. We will be outdoors as much as weather allows, so be sure to bring things you will be comfortable in, outside in summer. Please bring an extra change of clothes or two as clothes can get sweaty, wet, or dirty, and accidents do happen.

You’ll want to bring comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to meditate. Seated meditation in tight jeans or pants is really uncomfortable! You do not need to buy new or special clothing for this retreat – pajama pants, yoga pants, and sweatpants are all great options for sitting comfortably.

Essentials to Bring

  • Pillow & pillowcase & twin sheets
  • Blanket/Sleeping Bag
  • Towel and Washcloth
  • Water bottle / travel mug
  • A watch, because you won’t have your phone and may want to know the time
  • Slip on shoes for Med. Hall


  • Clothing
  • Comfortable pants / jeans / sweats
  • T-shirts
  • Bathing suit – some retreat centers have option to swim
  • Sweaters / sweatshirts / hoodies
  • Clothes you can do yoga in
  • Windbreaker/light jacket
  • Rain gear (rain jacket / umbrella)
  • Socks & Underwear
  • Sneakers / walking shoes
  • Sun hat / baseball hat


  • Toothbrush / toothpaste / floss
  • Shampoo / conditioner
  • Bath soap / body wash
  • Hair brush / comb
  • Deodorant
  • Medications / remedies / vitamins & supplements

Optional Items

  • Meditation cushion / sitting bench
  • Shawl or blanket to keep you warm while meditating
  • Yoga mat
  • Flashlight / headlamp
  • Journal / pen
  • Musical instrument
  • Camera
  • Toys / games (cards, hacky sack, etc.
  • Please be mindful in your selection of appropriate games to bring

Prohibited Items & Activities

  • Possession or use of illegal drugs of any kind is expressly forbidden.
  • Any mind-alterning substances
  • Smoking and vaping are strictly prohibited throughout the property.
  • Possession or use of weapons or firearms is expressly forbidden.
  • Candles, incense, and fires of any kind are prohibited.
  • No food or drink in the dorms or guesthouse rooms.
  • Hair dye, tie dye, or other permanent dyes.

What’s Provided

  • Twin bed and mattress
  • Meditation cushions and Chairs
  • Yoga mats
  • Refrigerator for medications or special food items you need
  • First aid kit/OTC meds
Teen retreat participant

“Inward Bound helped me grow to be the kind of person who I am, which is a person who’s calm and centered and has the skills to just breathe in moments where it feels like I’m not able to breathe and life is going by so fast.”

– Betye A.N., teen

Arrival, Departure, Shuttle Info, Transportation

Arrival to retreat is between 4-5pm on the first day, and departure is 1pm on the final day. We also welcome parents/guardians to attend a workshop from 12:30-1:30pm on the last day, to get a taste of what your teen experienced on retreat.

Sarah will be supporting group transportation from the airport to the retreat center, and the Retreat Manager (who will be in touch via email 3 weeks before the retreat) can support participants in carpooling.

Please note: It will not be an Inward Bound staff member/affiliate driving from the airport to the retreat center and back. It will be a reputable, local company, or if there is a small enough number, an Uber/Lyft. There will be an additional cost for participants who want to use this transportation to/from retreat.


Northern California Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up June 21 @ 1pm
drop off June 26 @4pm

Black Mountain Retreat Center in Cazadero, CA is 3 hours from SFO, the closest airport. The shuttle will depart SFO at 1pm on June 21 and return by 4pm on June 26. Please make sure flights arrive no later than 12:30pm on June 26 and depart no earlier than 6pm on June 26.

Southern California Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up June 26 @ 2:30pm
drop off July 1 @ 3pm

Big Bear Retreat Center in Big Bear, CA is 1.5 hours from Ontario Airport (ONT). The shuttle will depart Ontario at 3pm on June 26 and return by 3pm on July 1. Please make sure flights arrive no later than 2:00pm on June 26, and depart no earlier than 4:30pm on July 1.

Northeast Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up July 6 @ 3pm
drop off July 11 @ 2:30pm

Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT is 1 hour from Bradley Int’l Airport outside Hartford. The shuttle will depart Bradley at 3pm on July 6 and return by 2:30pm on July 11. Please make sure flights arrive no later than 2:45pm on July 6, and depart no earlier than 4:30pm on July 11.

Pacific Northwest Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up July 6 @ 2:15pm
drop off July 11 @ 3:30pm

Pack Forest Retreat Center in Eatonville, WA is 1 hour and 45 minutes from Seattle Tacoma Airport. The shuttle will depart from SEA at 2:15pm on July 6 and return by 3:30pm on July 11. Please book a flight that arrives no later than 1:45pm on July 6 and departs no earlier than 5:30pm on July 11.

Louisville Teen Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up July 28 @ 3:30pm
drop off August 1 @ 2pm

Cedar Ridge in Louisville, KY is 1/2 hour from Louisville Int’l Airport (SDF airport code). The shuttle will depart SDF at 3:30pm on July 28 and return by 1:30pm on August 1. Please make sure flights arrive no later than 3pm on July 28, and depart no earlier than 3pm on August 1.

BIPOC Teen Retreat
Airport round trip:
pick up July 31 @ 2:30pm
drop off August 5 @ 3pm

Big Bear Retreat Center in Big Bear, CA is 1.5 hours from Ontario Airport (ONT). The shuttle will depart Ontario at 3pm on July 31 and return by 3pm on August 5. Please make sure flights arrive no later than 2pm on July 31, and depart no earlier than 4:30pm on August 5.

Returning home & integration after retreat

At the end of the retreat, we will be coming back from a unique, beautiful, and potentially transformative adventure. Part of the benefit of practicing meditation so deeply comes when we learn how to bring the benefit back home to our friends and families. Many people find the first week back, especially the first 2-3 days, both challenging and rewarding, and it requires some skill and support to help this be as smooth as possible.

In order for our friends and families to best support us, and to help transfer the practice back into your normal life, here are some general guidelines that may be helpful. If you or your family is struggling upon returning from a retreat, please feel free to contact the Program Manager, Sarah. Otherwise, experiment with the following suggestions to see what is helpful to you and your immediate community:

  1. Please give yourself 24 hours from the end of a residential retreat before you engage in any highly stimulating activities such as parties or social gatherings, loud music or violent movies. Take what time you can to rest and get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Give yourself a day before taking on large responsibilities such as public speaking, writing papers, taking tests, or going to work.
  3. The night you get back from the retreat, try sitting for 20 minutes to help your mind, heart, and body adjust to your home life. After the first night, we strongly recommend you try meditating every day for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Stay in contact with your friends from the retreat. Some of you might want to avoid using the phone and internet to keep your mind more calm, but your connection with other teens and staff after the retreat is very important. For this reason, we have put together a Facebook page to help the retreat community stay connected. Connect on Facebook at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education.
  5. One of the challenges of integration is trying to share your experience of the retreat with people who were not there. It can take a few days to gain some perspective and words to convey the experiences, so we recommend keeping it simple. Talking about the experiences within meditation can be difficult, so try beginning with other aspects of the retreat.
  6. It can also be helpful to read books about meditation and spirituality, or listen to live or recorded talks. We have put together a resource page on the website to help you find these.
  7. Again, if you find yourself struggling any time after the retreat, please don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as possible so we can help with the integration.

We will have spent five days silently exploring our inner lives and connecting deeply with each other. We want you to be aware that coming out of retreat you are likely to feel more sensitive than you are used to, and this can be both fun and unsettling. If you do find yourself feeling uncomfortably sensitive please be gentle and patient with yourself and your immediate community, and know that in a day or two you will likely feel more integrated and steady. If you find yourself experiencing strong emotions please know that this is common for some people just after a retreat, and this usually calms down by itself after a few days.

Teen retreat participant

“I used to struggle a lot with who I was and trying to fit in. Inward Bound helped me become a lot more accepting not only of myself, but of others. Everybody’s so accepting and caring – really open and willing to share. You always have a friend at Inward Bound.”

– Nikita M., Teen Retreat Alumni

Questions? Just ask!