2024-2025 Retreat

December 28, 2024 - January 3, 2025

What a way to ring in the new year: 

Surrounded by  the Los Padres National forest, supported by the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara community.  Pause and take a breath, together with wildland firefighters from all areas, and with all levels of experience.  This retreat is led by experienced teachers of mindfulness and meditation in conjunction with wildland firefighter retreat leaders.  

What is the Wildland Firefighter Retreat?

The San Francisco Zen Center is offering this mindfulness-based retreat for Wildland Firefighters as a way to give back to these communities and to support our first responders. This 7-day retreat is intended to help provide refuge, rest and renewal as well as trauma-sensitive training in mindfulness, meditation and Sensory Awareness. 

There will be a day of work to help to care for Tassajara and to integrate mindfulness practice into fire prevention and working on the land. 

The retreat will have ample time to bathe in the hot springs, walk the wilderness trails (as weather permits), be nourished with home cooked meals, and relax in the quiet of this ancient valley. 

And we will have the unique opportunity of seeing in the New Year together around a huge bonfire in this sacred valley. 

There will also be 3 follow-up monthly Zoom calls in small groups after the retreat.

Your Facilitators

Lee Klinger Lesser

I lived at Tassajara as a Zen Student from 1980 - 1983. I have been leading workshops in the mindfulness practice of Sensory Awareness since 1976. My teacher of Sensory Awareness, Charlotte Selver, introduced me to Zen Center. She was good friends with Suzuki Roshi, the founder of Zen Center. For over 40 years, I have experienced how these practices enhance and enrich each other. I deeply trust in all of the life experience that is bringing us together for this groundbreaking work with you and I am grateful to be a part of it. 

Chris Fortin

Hi everyone,

I live in the Russian River watershed, in the redwoods of Sonoma County CA. We have a big garden and orchard, it’s paradise - and we’re in fire country. We've been evacuated twice, the Walbridge fire was just up the road last year. My sister lost her Santa Rosa home, actually the whole neighborhood burned to the ground, in the Kincaid Fire of 2019. So, what you do is up close and personal and I’m deeply grateful for each of you and the work that you do. I have been practicing zen since 1976 and am a zen priest and dharma teacher transmitted by Zoketsu Norman Fischer  in the Everyday Zen/Suzuki Roshi linage. I lead zen sanghas , retreats and workshops . I worked for many years as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma and as a spiritual counselor integrating psychotherapy and spirituality.

Marc Lesser

I was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, and was director of Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center. I'm a Zen priest and teacher with an MBA degree, and have launched and been CEO of three companies. I'm passionate about integrating Zen practice and mindfulness practice with leadership and business for the purpose of supporting positive change, internally and externally. I love spending time with my family, going for long walks, and watching almost any sport. I've written five books about mindful leadership, and wonder what's next - in writing, working, and living.

Your Firefighter Leaders (TBA)


How much does it cost? The retreat is free of charge to wildland firefighter participants.  You need only get here.  

What do I need to bring?  Tassajara is a remote location.  In wintertime, it can be cold, and the accommodations can be rustic.  We will supply a list of recommended things to bring when you register. 
What happens after I apply?  There will be spots for previous and new participants.  You'll be contacted by one of the facilitators to schedule an interview so we can have a chance to get to know you. The slots fill up quickly, but we will have a waiting list and many people from the waiting list end up having the opportunity to participate. 

Who can I contact if I have additional questions? Please contact Lee Lesser with questions: 415-307-6043 leelesser@gmail.com

Application to Attend

Please fill out an application HERE.