Room and board are provided and transportation costs for both students and adult chaperones are covered by Riley’s Way Foundation.
Past Youth Leadership Retreats
Riley’s Way first annual Youth Leadership Retreat was held September 20 – 22, 2019 at Timber Lake Camp in Shandaken, NY. We brought together close to 100 inspiring young women and their mentors from around the country to create meaningful connections with their like-minded peers. During the weekend, the teens participated in skill-building workshops, including communication techniques, relationship building, and action planning and camp activities, such as hiking, arts and crafts, dance class, and a ropes course. The biggest impact was made during the teen-led workshops, where the participants were able to hear about, and be inspired by, the work of their fellow change makers.
In 2020, we held our first virtual Retreat, with the theme of Kindness in Action: Civically Engaged, Virtually Connected, Intentionally Kind. Workshops and keynote sessions answered the questions: Around the world, we are watching as teens push movements forward like climate-change and racial equity. How can you effectively amplify your voice and the stories of others? How can you be civically engaged to make a difference on critical issues? How can you model kind leadership?
In 2021, the need to feel connected and to develop deep, meaningful relationships was greater than ever. The theme for our October 2021 Retreat was Care to Connect: Build a Kinder Tomorrow. Leaders who care for themselves, their communities, and the world are the most capable of creating transformative change. Through a combination of community-building activities and leadership workshops focused on self-care, deep listening, connection-making, and the power of empathy, teen leaders joined together to discover how they can use these skills and practices to build a kinder tomorrow.
In 2022, we held the first gender-inclusive Riley’s Way virtual Retreat. Focused on the theme of Networking Through the Lens of Kindness, this Retreat recognized that leaders who care for themselves, their communities, and the world are the most capable of creating meaningful, transformative change. Through a combination of networking workshops focused on confidence-building, connection-making, and skill-building, young leaders convened to discover how they can use these skills and practices to build a kinder, better tomorrow — together.
In October 2022, we brought together 100 young leaders from across the country to build meaningful connections with like-minded changemakers at Timber Lake Camp in Shandaken, NY from Friday, September 30, 2022 – Sunday, October 2, 2022. The theme for the 2022 Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat was The Mic Drop: Listen + Amplify with Empathy. Over the course of the weekend high school girls and gender expansive youth learned about advocacy, activism, and how to use their voice to make a difference. Students participated in leadership workshops and fun camp activities, were inspired by other young leaders, made life-long connections, and brainstormed how to use what they learn to build a better and kinder world.
“Riley’s Way deeply understands what the power of advocacy and using one’s voice to spark change means, especially in the context of youth leadership in the modern world. From including amazing students during the planning process, to providing participants with the fulfilling opportunity to learn from and connect with leaders, authors, speakers, and role models.” – Gillian, 2022 Retreat Participant
“As I reflect on this magical weekend, I think about all the fruitful ways I witnessed my own growth as a leader while simultaneously helping my mentees reach their fullest potential. This weekend was one to remember and I look forward to continuing this circle of kindness to inspire the next generation of young leaders!” – Anika, 2022 Retreat Team Mentor
“Thank you so much for giving us an invaluable space to connect with youth and mentors, as well as participate in both lighthearted and critical discussions this past week at the Retreat. It was so special to come back to this space for the second year, to form bonds and build knowledge, all under a construct of kindness. I met friends and mentors this week, and I am grateful for Riley’s Way for making it happen.” – 2020 Retreat participant
“Before the Retreat, I saw kindness as a positive trait to have in leadership (and in life in general), although ruthlessness and assertiveness were often valued in the spaces I work in… In a little under 48 hours, I realized that kindness isn’t just a positive trait to have. Kindness is a crucial trait to have if you intend on creating effective and sustainable change, and it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive with taking initiative, working hard, or making yourself heard. The girls and staff at the Retreat showed me that. They showed me how to listen to, learn from, and lift up others through kindness.” – Ashley, 2019 participant
“The Retreat weekend was an empowering experience, not just for me, but for everyone… We shared our experiences from school, our travels to get to the Retreat, and so much more… I got to learn about what other girls are doing and make connections about what we do in our communities, a Riley’s Way value. The atmosphere quickly turned to a community where everyone was working together and spreading kindness.” – Julia, 2019 participant
“The Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat was one of the most positive experiences I have had. It allowed me to meet young “changemakers” who truly want to make a difference in other people’s lives.” – Marjorie, 2019 participant