Be loved + accepted for who you are
Mindfulness retreats provide young people with the rare opportunity to experience uninterrupted and genuine insight into their own life experience while connecting with their peers and mindfulness teachers in a welcoming and safe community. Come for the fun & friends. Stay for the calm & community.
15 to 19 years
Sliding scale tuition, based on household income, up to $2,500. Learn More.
Duration + Location
6 days, 5 nights at Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT
June 22, midnight
Starts: July 6, 2023
Drop-off: 4:00 pm
Ends: July 11, 2023
Pick-up: 1:00 pm
Our world-class teachers share their diverse lived experiences and mindfulness practices with every teen on retreat. They honor humanity in its many forms, allowing each attendee to be authentic and show up exactly as they are. Please click on their profile photos to read more about each of our teachers.
Joe Klein, LPC, is the lead clinician of a mindfulness-based addiction treatment program in rural Virginia. He began practicing meditation in 2001, began staffing teen retreats in 2007, and is a co-founder of Inward Bound. Since 2010, Joe has been teaching a graduate course at Radford University and leading retreats and workshops on mindfulness practice for college students, counselors, social workers, and education professionals. Joe brings playfulness, Earth connection, and whole person engagement to his ways of teaching and embodying mindfulness practice.
Sara Shapouri is an Iranian-American meditation teacher, artist, parent, and lawyer. A lover of maps and guides to help understand the wildness of human experience, her path and offerings are influenced by Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Jungian and Depth Psychology, Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy, relational mindfulness, esoteric mystical traditions, and stand up comedy.
Nina [she/her] supports people in cultivating embodied presence as a way of coming home to themselves. She is a mindfulness facilitator rooted in multiple lineages of meditative practice, including both stillness and movement. Starting with her spiritual roots in her Jewish-Buddhist upbringing in a family of meditators, through her teen years as a student and eventually teacher of yoga, and into her training in Buddhist spiritual care and secular mindfulness education, Nina is grateful for a life path that has allowed her to explore contemplative practice in many forms. Nina holds a Master of Divinity, focused in the Buddhist Ministry Initiative, from Harvard Divinity School. Through her graduate studies as an M.Div, she is trained in facilitation of multifaith contemplative practice, interfaith chaplaincy, and leading mindfulness programs in both religious and secular settings, ranging from teen camp at a monastery to the cancer floor of a hospital. Her formal meditation practice and teaching has been shaped most by the Insight Meditation tradition, in which she was raised and continues to practice, and by the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Nina is also trained as an RYT-200 yoga teacher in Vinyasa and Kundalini yoga, and her approach to leading mindful movement is informed by both yoga and modern dance. Nina is currently training as a non-denominational Spiritual Director with Still Harbor. She completed the Inward Bound Mindfulness Teacher Training in 2018, and has been involved with Inward Bound teen and college mindfulness retreats since 2014. She especially loves LGBTQIA+ mindfulness community, both as a participant & as a facilitator. As a Mindfulness Director with Mindfulness Director Initiative, she currently leads mindfulness programs at Harvard College. Nina is energized by working with young adults, because she believes that these years are ripe with potential for inquiry into core questions of who we are and how we relate to the world. She is inspired by the way that youth long for, and create, spaces where they can reflect honestly on their experiences, learn to take care of themselves and others, and build authentic, loving communities that support deep well-being and freedom.
Jen Zehler is a certified teacher and received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education at New Jersey City University and her Master’s Degree in Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University. She is also a graduate of the Women’s Leadership Institute program at Hartford Seminary. Jen completed teacher training with Inward Bound Mindfulness and is a Qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher, and has received training through Mindful Schools, Mindful Life, and Mindfulness In Schools Project (.b). She also holds certification in Restorative Justice Circle Keeping from Planning Change and has completed trauma training for working with youth through The Center for Adolescent Studies. Jen resides in Barre, MA at The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS), and Jamaica Plain, MA. She enjoys biking, pickleball, creative arts, and reading.
Travis Spencer is a licensed (LGPC) mental health therapist and mindfulness teacher/facilitator. Over the years, he generously dedicated himself to serving Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) through counseling, adults, teens, children, and families. Travis’s vision is to create a SAFE and inclusive space for the healing and awakening of all people regardless of racial identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, or social class. Additionally, Travis co-leads Mindful Parenting and Strengthening Family Coping Resources “It Takes a Village” with Early Childhood Innovation Network – (ECIN). Additionally, Travis established: ● The Institute of African American Mindfulness LLC (IAAM). IAAM is a healing and wellness organization that supports the natural capacity of African Americans and Allies to live in an inclusive community devoted to Mindful Living. ● The Mindful Teen Circles. The Mindful Teen Circles’ mission is to create an inclusive healing-centered community of practice that employs mindfulness to support the psychosocial development of teens (Identity versus Confusion). MTC supports teens by creating a mindful environment to foster (1) physical, (2) mental, (3) social, and (4) emotional well-being. The Mindful Teen Circles (MTC) at Georgetown (MTC@GT), Mindful Teen Circles at Maya Angelou Academy at Youth Services Center (MTC@MAA@YSC), and the Mindful Teens of Color at Taratibu Youth Association (MTC@TYA). Travis is a graduate of Trinity Washington University with a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Travis fosters relationships and partnerships with Educare DC, House of Ruth, Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, and Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC IMCW.
Bio coming soon!
Catherine Khang Banson
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Shea Riester has been a climate activist for ten years, and worked as a trainer and youth organizer with 350.org and Better Future Project. Shea is also a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) in training. He has a background in Zen and has been a student of Thich Nhat Hanh since 2009. At the same time Shea has been engaging with and facilitating Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects” for the last decade, using it to build resiliency in himself and fellow activists. Shea is deeply passionate about nonviolent social movements and supporting youth climate activists to thrive and have a powerful impact. Shea currently organizes with Extinction Rebellion NYC and helps to staff Inward Bound northeast retreats.
What happens on retreat?
Learn mindfulness practices such as breath & body awareness and mindful walking. Beginners (more than) welcome!
Explore activities like painting, improv, journaling, and creative writing. Pick and choose what interests you, or lead a workshop yourself!
Dance without worrying about what other people think of you. We all have our unique ways of dancing (or not – you don’t have to dance either)!
Laugh in good company, take the opportunity to be vulnerable, and play games like “sweet seat” to connect more deeply with a small group of teens.
Cuddle up with a blanket! Listen and learn how to tend to relationships, emotions, the challenges of our times, and more – it’s all about applying mindfulness to daily life.
Move and release through guided daily yoga practice.
Hear from participants themselves
Being New on Retreat
Working with Stress
Fear of Being Yourself
Registration is now closed.
Benefits of attending retreat
Feel More Connected
We’ll offer your teen tools to open their heart, deepen their sense of self-compassion, and connect more deeply with themselves – and with you!
Help Them Find Their People
Your teen will develop meaningful relationships in a community of peers and mindfulness teachers alike, where they’ll be accepted for who they are.
Take the Stress Off
You don’t have to provide for every aspect of your teen’s mental and emotional well-being. The mindulness practices your teen learns on retreat can offer additional support!
Peace of Mind
Worry less, knowing your teen will learn tools to compassionately and mindfully meet every moment of their life.
Forge Meaningful Relationships
You always have a friend at Inward Bound! Connect with people in a safe, welcoming space where you don’t have to “fit in” to be loved, to make friends, to be yourself.
Find Your Center
Gain tools to deepen understanding of your inner life, and apply skills for navigating your thoughts and emotions.
Make Happiness Easier
Learn how to release tension, pain, and self-judgment through the practice of mindfulness.
Share Who You Are
Authentically share who you are with your peers in small groups, workshops, creative/art shows, during walks in the woods, and more.
"This retreat was exactly what my 17-year-old son needed. A supportive staff, diverse group of kids, beautiful setting, meditation, yoga, talks, mindfulness, new friends, and new thinking. Learning to relax and observe your emotions from amazing staff and leaders! Life changing in the most positive way."
Kimberly, Inward Bound parent
"My son (14) and my nephew (17) came back from their first meditation retreat changed young men. I am so impressed with the depth, accessibility, and integrity of the retreat program, as well as by the skill and compassion of the facilitators. Our family enthusiastically endorses the Inward Bound programming. We’ll be back."
Leslie, Inward Bound parent
"It’s so much easier for me to be happy. I used to have all these emotions that were right here, really tight, all the time. Mindfulness practice slowly unraveled how tightly I held them. There’s so much less tension and pain around them."
Taeya B., teen
"Inward Bound opened my eyes to see how beautiful I really am and to how much potential each one of us has."
Levi P., teen
Tuition & Payment Info
We offer this sliding scale approach to retreat tuition in order to accommodate a wide range of household incomes. Your tuition includes lodging, all meals and snacks, and support from Inward Bound staff before and during the retreat.
- Inward Bound retreats feature a low ratio of adult staff per participant, providing high-quality care, expertise, instruction, and mentoring (this is our secret sauce!)
Please note: A nonrefundable application fee of $35 is required and applied toward your tuition.
Calculate your retreat tuition:
We rely on tuition fees, supplemented by donations, to cover the costs of our retreats and make it possible for all teens who want to to attend. If you can, we invite you to consider making a donation when and if it feels right.
The daily retreat schedule includes periods of guided sitting and walking meditation, mindful movement such as yoga or qigong, small group activities, workshops and free time for socializing or resting. We move into and out of periods of silence throughout the day. You should be prepared to attend all of the activities each day. We also serve three tasty meals a day and a late night snack to keep you going.
You can plan on about 4-6 hours of silent meditation spread throughout each day (2-3 hours in the morning, and 2-3 hours in the afternoon/evening). Don’t worry though, you won’t be expected to meditate for two hours straight! Each meditation session is about 20-30 minutes. The meditation time includes a mix of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and other mindful movement.Some form of mindful movement, such as yoga or qigong, is offered on a daily basis, usually for about an hour at a time. If you are excited to practice more meditation or more yoga there are often workshops during the week that allow you to deepen your practice.
No, definitely not! While there are periods of silence during the retreat there’s a lot of time to connect and talk with other participants such as during your small group meetings, over meals, during workshops and free time.
While our retreat schedule is fairly structured, there is some free time built in. There is usually about an hour of free time following each meal. If you don’t have a mindful clean-up job scheduled during that time you are welcome to exercise, go for a hike, etc. There will be some guidelines around going for hikes and runs depending on the specific retreat location but we are usually able to accommodate these kinds of needs.
Yes, provided they meet the age requirements of the retreat, friends, siblings, cousins, etc. are welcome to come on retreat together. There will be lots of time to talk, connect, and hang out with each other – during meals, free time, workshops, etc. Please be prepared, however, as friends or siblings may be assigned to different dorm rooms and different small groups. We encourage all participants to “stretch outside their comfort zones” by interacting with new people and not just hanging out with a friend or sibling for the whole retreat.
This is a really common concern! A lot of people say, “I think too much. There’s no way I can still my mind. Meditation might work for other people but it’s not for me.” If you think this you are not alone! The objective of meditation is not to “space out” or clear our minds until they are completely of thoughts. With practice, you may find that when you are meditating your thoughts and emotions are still present but you won’t be so consumed by them. Meditation and mindfulness are about practicing awareness and acceptance towards ourselves, our thoughts, and strong emotions – not making them go away!
Sometimes people hear “meditation” and “mindfulness” and they think, “It sounds like this retreat is going to be serious and silent. Why would I want to spend a week of my summer doing that??” Good news–our teen participants consistently share that the retreat is one of the most powerful, connected—and fun—weeks of the year. While we do meditate and learn the skills of mindfulness and compassion throughout the day, there’s also lots of time to connect with new friends, explore new sides of ourselves through creative and interesting workshops, go for hikes, and just hang out together. A big part of our retreats is “relational mindfulness” with small groups at the center of the experience. During small groups you will get the chance to play goofy games, hear other people’s stories, and be part of a community. We have retreat “alumni” who keep coming back every year because the people they meet on retreat become their closest friends.
There is no “typical” Inward Bound participant. Our participants are a diverse group in many ways. Some are not religious, others are Buddhists, while others may identify Christian or Jewish or Muslim. Some are musicians, others are artists and theater fans, some are athletes, others are outdoorsy types. Across all our retreats, about 50% of participants identify as LGBTQIA and more than half identify as being a person of color, biracial, or multiracial. Demographics will vary by region, however. The thing tying all of our participants together is that they are all humans looking to de-stress, connect more with themselves, and create community with like-minded peers.
The age range for teen retreats is 15–19.