Our History

Our evolution is always community led.

Founded in 2014, Rise and Shine Youth Retreat started as a one day retreat for a diverse group of teenage girls. At the request of the first participants of R&S, the one day retreat became a full weekend getaway the following year (in 2015). 

For years, our primary program was the Annual Weekend Getaway. The Annual Weekend Getaway is a 2 day, 3 night camping wellness retreat for bipoc youth. ​Each participant is provided a shared tent for sleeping, 3 meals per day and a wellness kit to perform self-care rituals (hygiene; body brushing, thorough teeth cleaning, tongue scraping, oil pulling and skin exfoliation) and make personal body care products such as sugar scrubs, body/hair oil, toothpaste and deodorant. ​We begin each day with ​meditation, stretching/movement and journaling followed by youth-led workshops and relaxing time. In our free time, we explore nature, create art, and play games. Most meals are made from local farm produce and prepared together by all participants on site.​ The outdoors play a key role in the experience– grounding youth in communion with themselves, with each other, and with nature. 

As the awareness of white terrorism began to rise, black youth suggested the need for sacred Black space.

In 2017,  Rise and Shine partnered with 21st Century and began the Affinity Wellness Club.  A weekly after-school meetup at Lewiston Middle School where (mostly Black) students learn self-care practices, develop dance routines, discuss current events, journaling and collective storytelling. We also took field trips and had special guests and teaching artists from Bates College and Black Artist Forum share their art form with the students. The Affinity Wellness Club was co-facilitated by R&S director, Nicole Mokeme and Barbara MacManus, a black science and ELL middle school teacher. This intergenerational partnership is beautiful and multi-cultural. The Affinity Wellness Club was created in response to the suicide of a Black 13-year old Lewiston Middle School student.

In late June 2018, Rise and Shine Youth Retreat acquired a permanent home on a farm in Bowdoin, Maine. On 135 acres of land our farm consists of a 5-bedroom house, two usable barns, and a hoop house. Because of the resources and space that the land has to offer, the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat Rejuvenation Center was born. Our multi-purpose center provides a space for members of our community to gather, create, and collaborate. The house is used for shared and communal living space, retreats and residencies. The land surrounding the house will also be used as camping