Lice, Tie-Dye, and Some Soul Cleansing

Growing up, I looked forward to summer camp every year. In the weeks leading up to camp I’d worriedly check my scalp each day for lice; because kids who had lice didn’t get to go to camp.

Thankfully I never had to deal with such a horrific scenario, and instead, got to spend a week of pure bliss in what my family affectionately called “hippy camp.” Each year I came back with newly tie-dyed shirts (which I STILL wear to bed much, to my husband’s chagrin), loads of new camp songs (which we STILL sing while at family campfires), and a cleaned up, shiney, fresh soul (which I STILL seek out when I go on meditation retreat).

 This is some serious selfie action! Check out the bulky old digital camera. :) Taken on the final day of my first retreat back in 2005. Also note the tie-dyed shirt I'm wearing. Apologies for the poor image quality!

This is some serious selfie action! Check out the bulky old digital camera. :) Taken on the final day of my first retreat back in 2005. Also note the tie-dyed shirt I'm wearing. Apologies for the poor image quality!

Camp has stuck with me through all these years. There was something magical about being away from home and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.

I stopped going to hippy camp when I finished middle school. Summers quickly filled up with sports camps and school reading lists.

It wasn’t until I spent my 21st birthday on a meditation retreat that I found anything remotely as soul cleansing and wonderful as hippy camp. Instead of singing camp songs, it was days of silence and contemplation. And instead of making tie-dye, new little joys came in mindfully doing laundry or washing dishes.

My first meditation retreat answered my soul’s call for renewal, and reminded me what it was to listen to my heart. I’m bummed that I had to go through the roughest and rockiest part of my growing up (late adolescence and high school!) without this type of soul cleansing. But I’m so grateful that I found my grown up equivalent to camp so early in my adult years.

I’m especially excited though, because in about a month I have the honor of staffing what feels to me to be a bridge for this gap I experienced in high school. Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) offers the camaraderie and fun of summer camp with the inner work of a meditation retreat—just for teenagers! 

There will be plenty of time for guitar strumming and making friends, as well as time for meditation practice and silent reflection. How lucky these teens are to have access to their hearts’ voices during (what can be) such a tumultuous time in their lives. And how lucky I feel to get to be even a small part of this journey for these teens.

 Teens on a previous iBme retreat. Photo courtesy of iBme.

Teens on a previous iBme retreat. Photo courtesy of iBme.

As of my writing this (May 20), we still have some spaces available for teenagers to attend the retreat. If you know of any teenager (ages 15-19) who you think might be interested or might benefit from a five-day teen meditation retreat, send them my way! iBme is hosting retreats all across the country this June, July and August. It would be awesome if your teen could join me in Northern CA, June 14-20; and if not, it would still be pretty freaking cool if they could join a retreat anywhere else across the country.

iBme is committed to making these retreats accessible to as many teens as possible; which means they give away thousands of dollars in scholarships each year. Don’t let cost be a roadblock.

How fantastic is it that teens have access to deep practice? With the knowledge that hundreds of teens are meditating at these retreats this year (and I’m sure plenty more who aren’t on retreat), I can’t help but smile thinking about our world’s future.

As I gear up for next month’s retreat I’m already looking forward to all the great stuff we’ll do together and all the great teenagers I’ll meet. I've already picked out which tie-dyed shirts to bring, and I have a feeling that in my anticipatory excitement I’ll be checking my scalp at the sign of any unexplained itches. ;)