Rites of Passage
In today’s culture, intentional rites of passage for youth entering adulthood have mostly been lost or at least diminished in importance. Many of our teenage boys initiate themselves in ways that are unhealthy for their development, such as their first experiences with drugs, alcohol or sex. Some positive forms of rites of passage would be learning to drive, their first job, or graduating high school.
Intentional rites of passage have played an important role in many cultures for thousands of years, as experiences that challenge boys in a safe way to consciously explore the men they wish to be adds a powerful dimension to their development into manhood.
A primary function of any rite of passage is to allow children to consciously choose a new adult identity. Adults help to facilitate this process and help them gain the skills and understandings they will need to fulfill their potential as members of the community.
The isolation in a primitive setting removes participants from the routines and patterns of their lives so that they can “re-create” themselves. They are given the opportunity to let go of old patterns that might no longer serve them.
Our weekend incorporates physical, mental, and emotional tests. These tests can help a boy discover inner resources that he may not have been previously aware of, thus helping him gain new self-respect and confidence. In our weekend events, the tests are challenging, but do not involve winning and losing, which we believe creates the potential for shame. Each boy has the opportunity to test himself in ways that build self-esteem and facilitate growth.
The specific processes facilitated at the rite of passage event are not publicly disclosed, so that, younger members of the community do not receive the adult information before they are ready, as the rite is considered sacred and personal and should not be treated casually. Also, it relies on a degree of theater, surprise, and spontaneous response that would be lost if participants knew in advance what was going to happen. (We can share all information with the parents or guardians, asking that this information be kept in confidence).
Following our rite of passage adventure weekends the boys and young men who participated are honored for their accomplishments with a welcoming home ceremony and potluck feast.
We conduct two Rite of Passage Adventure Weekends per year—one in the spring and one in the fall.