Purpose The experiences of clinical facilitators working within non-conventional mental health settings have not yet been explored. The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of clinical facilitators when facilitating nursing student learning within a non-conventional mental health clinical placement. Design/methodology/approach This study adopted a qualitative phenomenological approach. The participants in this study were five registered nurses who had facilitated students at a non-conventional mental health clinical placement called Recovery Camp. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted. Findings The facilitators experiences could be understood through two main themes: facilitator skills and opportunities for student learning. Recovery Camp allowed the facilitators to build on their own nursing and facilitation skills, while examining themselves as a mental health nurse. "Being with" students (immersive engagement) enabled opportunistic and rare learning moments. Originality/value To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first known study to explore the experiences of clinical facilitators working in a non-conventional mental health placement.