mentor job description

mentoring on a mindfulness teen retreat

We’re so glad that you are considering joining an Inward Bound retreat as a volunteer mentor. We look forward to getting to know you, sharing this experience with you, and creating a safe, compassionate, and fun space where all of us, both teens and the staff team, feel safe to be more authentically ourselves and learn how to connect with and enjoy our lives, each other, and the natural world more deeply.

Being a mentor is a very nourishing and powerful experience as well as a big commitment – we appreciate each mentor’s willingness to offer their time in this way. Read the full job description below.

main responsibilities

The primary role of our mentors is to support the teens in their practice and retreat experience. This is done by helping to “hold the container” in a kind and respectful way, “sweeping” teens to and from the meditation hall and activities, sharing in the experience of the retreat, and much more.

Our job is to create a safe space where teens can explore their own experience and through increased self-awareness, find more freedom to choose how they want to be in the world. We are also responsible for creating safe boundaries for ourselves and the teens on the retreat.

We ask that mentors participate as much as they are able during the retreat, even if they are not “on” in a particular role. Part of being a supportive mentor is modeling appropriate behavior and participation in all of the aspects of retreat. That being said, we encourage all mentors to take care of themselves and rest when they need to so as to stay healthy and well-balanced throughout the retreat. We will ask you to please take breaks as needed, during times when you are not needed for sweeping, mindful cleanup supervision, etc. It can be useful to check in with others to make sure that there is sufficient adult presence at an activity before leaving to take a break.

Ultimately, our own mindfulness practice is the most important skill and resource we have to rely on as mentors. Our mindfulness is both internal – being aware of our own, body, mind states, emotions, personality, and patterns – and external – being aware of and attuned to these foundations of mindfulness in the youth we serve.


We look for people with a dedication to mindfulness meditation and an interest in supporting youth. Specifically, we aim to have mentors with personal silent retreat experience and experience with teens; counseling or therapeutic experience is a plus. We aim to have at least one trained counselor/therapist on each retreat.

The primary qualities of a mentor are authenticity, empathy, compassion, and unconditional positive regard. Being a mentor, in authentic relationship with youth, becomes our primary mindfulness practice on retreat. We practice relating to youth with a beginner’s mind – with openness, curiosity, and non-judgment. We practice and model authenticity; feeling comfortable in our own skin, not overly concerned with being liked or impressing the teens. We practice skillful self-disclosure – for the purpose of, and in the best interest of the teens. We develop our own abilities to connect and relate, to listen deeply and compassionately witness, and we maintain healthy and consistent boundaries.

celebrating and supporting diversity and inclusion

Inward Bound is an organization dedicated to supporting a community where we can share our different identities and feel a sense of belonging that we co-create. Being a place where people of all genders, sexual orientation, race, and background are welcomed, included, and can share their strengths is vital to our success. We strive for all members of our community, including organizational staff, board members, and retreat teachers and mentors, to be well-informed and educated on issues of equity and justice. Before the retreat, we ask all staff to read a list of resources we have put together to build our capacity in these areas.


Mentors are required to be on-site for a retreat 1 day prior to teen arrival, and stay until clean up is complete on the final day of retreat. We begin the retreat with a full day of training before the teens arrive. The mentor role includes helping to supervise participants from approximately 7am to 10/10:30pm. While there will be the chance to take breaks during the day, please be advised that this is a full schedule, so it’s best to arrive well-rested, in good health, and prepared for the week ahead.

ethos of being a mentor

The primary intention of a mentor is to create an authentic relationship with the youth we support – a relationship that allows the teens to develop their own self-awareness and ultimately greater self-empowerment.At Inward Bound, we take a stance that we are not responsible for changing an adolescent’s behavior – only the teen themselves can make that decision. Even with teens who leave the retreat or decide that meditation is not for them, we endeavor to honor the wisdom in their choice and respect their capacity to investigate what is true for them. As mentors, we may find this easiest to do with teens we connect with, who seem to easily follow the form of the retreat and are happy to be there. Of course it is much harder when our own beliefs and values are challenged, and that is also the time when it is most important. We do not know that this form is right for everyone. However, we do know that treating teens with respect and honesty goes a long way towards building strong relationships and support systems.

On Inward Bound retreats, these safe boundaries include the expectation that all teens will keep the “mindfulness trainings” (sometimes called “precepts”) of non-harming, kind and truthful speech, not stealing, sexual abstinence while on retreat, and abstinence from all drugs and alcohol while on retreat. If a teen breaks one of these agreements, they will be asked to leave the retreat. We also expect that all teens will follow the schedule and do their best to honor the silent periods.

precepts for adults working with young people

Adults who interact with young people must commit to these precepts during their work at Inward Bound teen retreats:

  • I vow to cultivate a respect and generosity of spirit for teens.
  • I vow to nurture teens in my words and deeds.
  • I vow to refrain from inappropriate, untruthful, harsh, or hurtful speech towards teens.
  • I vow to refrain from acting aggressively or harmfully towards teens.
  • I vow to refrain from sexualized speech or behavior towards teens.
  • I vow not to be under the influence of intoxicants or addictive substances (including alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco) while with teens, or use them while with teens, or offer them to teens.