Restoring Youth Rites of Passage: Two-Week Leadership Intensive

| Ekone Ranch, Goldendale, WA. Begins and ends at Songaia Co-Housing, Bothell, WA | hosted by Rite of Passage Journeys
Cost: $1600 – $2800, Sliding Scale ~ Additional Financial Aid is Available
More info

Step Boldly Into the World of Youth Initiation…

A group of young men watch the sunset. Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington Cascades.

Do you long to be of deep service to young people, future generations, and wholeness in our communities and Earth?

To be a powerful guide and role model to youth in living a soulful life?

To be an effective leader of authentic, non-appropriative, earth- and spirit-affirming ceremonies that honor life transitions?

To find your place of belonging in community and on the Earth, in ways that are in solidarity with all Peoples?

Rites of Passage – particularly those marking and catalyzing the journey from childhood through adolescence to adulthood – are a keystone practice in human cultures. Lost to most contemporary communities, the promise in reclaiming and re-imagining these traditions shines bright. Rites of passage for youth weave communities together around the effort to transmit healthy, regenerative culture to the next generation. Through initiatory processes, young people shed what has become too small for them, and are challenged and supported in developing the inner resources and understandings to fully bring their unique gifts forward – into a world that urgently needs what they have to offer.

To navigate these transitions of adolescence well, young people need adults who understand the tasks, difficulties, and opportunities of this life stage. They need mentors who know how to mark transitions in meaningful and relevant ways.

Most of all, they need adults who have been initiated themselves.

This two-week immersion offers a current and comprehensive framework and set of tools to soulfully mentor youth through rite of passage ceremonies, powerfully connect with your personal gifts and ancestral inheritance, and begin building your niche in this culture-transforming work.

Over the course of a deeply experiential journey, you will participate in your own three-day solo vigil, use and practice other wilderness soulwork modalities, inquire into the intersections of colonization, ancestry, trauma, and initiation, and explore frameworks and tools for rite of passage leadership, program facilitation, and adolescent development. Through personal reflection, exploration, and sharing, you will gain insight into your own transitions into adulthood and do some of the important remedial ‘inner teenager’ work that will make you a more effective mentor to young people. Alongside your co-participants, you will also delve into key issues in rite of passage work today, including working with youth of diverse backgrounds in gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, and engaging in ceremonial practices in ways that respect diverse spiritual orientations and are not culturally appropriative.

For nearly 50 years, Rite of Passage Journeys has pioneered a unique approach to coming of age. This approach is not a one-size-fits-all model, but one that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of a given community and their young people. This training will set you up to be a guide to youth in Journeys’ wilderness programs, but will also give you tools and experience from a uniquely soulful lineage to develop this kind of work in your own community or organization.

You Will Leave With

  • A powerful catalyzing initiatory experience through immersion in a wilderness-based rite of passage framework – this includes your own three-day solo fast
  • Training in theoretical and practical fundamentals in creating rite of passage experiences, including ritual & ceremonial design, working with different populations, logistics, safety, and more
  • Experience exploring the dynamics of power, privilege, oppression, and difference, how this impacts our work, and how to make use of your unique social position(s) to most effectively support young people on their path to becoming healthy adults, and building just, resilient communities
  • Further insight into your own journey through childhood and adolescence, and the opportunity to heal some wounds and identify others that you need to work on
  • Greater awareness around your own ancestral heritage, and how to  guide culturally appropriate, culturally relevant rites of passage in the context of settler colonialism
  • An introduction to adolescent development from neurological, psychological, cultural, and ecological perspectives
  • Familiarity with Rite of Passage Journeys’ mentoring framework, values wheel, and key strategies, originally developed by Stan Crow and honed over 50 years of working with young people
  • Experience in a group field facilitated with trauma-awareness, along with an understanding of the essential role of embodiment practices in healing trauma and cultivating wholeness in general
  • Tools for bridging between worlds: helping you embody the world you wish to see in the context of present-day realities

Mentoring on Journeys Youth Programs

This training offers powerful personal, experiential, and conceptual learning in the range of subjects and modes we see as important to be competent in to do this work. The hands-on, practical learning that takes place in the apprentice positions on our youth wilderness programs is an ideal complement. We very much encourage you to apply for both!

Note that this Leadership Intensive – or comparable training and experience elsewhere (uncommon!) – is a prerequisite to apprenticing and staffing most Rite of Passage Journeys youth programs. Find information about apprentice and staff positions here, and contact us with questions, inquiries, and applications, at


$1600 – $2800, Sliding Scale. This is all-inclusive; food, camping, and transportation are covered for the duration of the program. We are committed to making this program accessible to all who are called to it, and we hope that this sliding scale will help with that. You are welcome to choose any number within the scale, or apply for financial aid if the range is beyond your means. Note that we are also happy to arrange payment plans to help extend the cost over a longer period of time. Consider the following as you decide:

Assuming we end up with a full or nearly full group of participants, we estimate that:

$1600 per person will cover our direct expenses for this program

$2000 per person will sustainably support our administrative expenses

$2400 will support those needing to pay on the low end of the scale

$2800 will support us to invest further in program development and relationship-building.

Journeys has never turned away a participant for lack of funds. Thanks for supporting this movement towards greater financial equity and transparency!

Application Process

  1. Please complete this brief registration form.
  2. Please send a letter of intent to info@riteofpassagejourneys.orgNote that this reserves your spot in the program– not just step 1. We invite you to consider the below questions in your letter.
  3. We will follow up with you shortly after receiving your submissions.After admission into the program, we will ask for a deposit ($400) or financial aid application to hold your spot.

Questions to consider:

  • What in your heart calls you to seek out this experience?
  • How did you hear about it/Rite of Passage Journeys?
  • Are you interested in being a mentor on Journeys’ youth programs this summer?
  • How might this experience fit into any personal or professional goals or visions that you have at this time?
  • Please describe any past experience you have working with youth, and how you see yourself working with youth in the future.
  • Have you participated in a guided fast in the wilderness before? When and with whom? Have you been involved in any way in any other kinds of intentional rites of passage?
  • Looking back, what one or two experiences – intentional rites of passage or not – most initiated you into the place you are now on your journey of adulthood?
  • What do you know about your ancestors? How do you relate to them at this point, if at all?
  • What are some of the challenges and gifts that come from various aspects of your social identity (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, etc)? What aspects of your identity feel most important to you at this time?
  • Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Space is limited in this program. Please apply soon!

2019 Guides: Darcy Ottey, Cameron Withey and others

Darcy Ottey

Darcy bio pic 2015Journeys has been part of every major transition in Darcy’s life, since her Coming of Age program when she was 13. She was the Executive Director of Journeys from 2006 – 2011, and helped to birth Youth Passageways, a diverse network of individuals, organizations, and communities working to support the initiation of young people into mature adulthood in these transition times. As an initiated European-American woman (British/Ukrainian descent), she is passionate about helping people disconnected from traditional rites of passage reclaim and create rites and practices meaningful and relevant in their lives and communities at this time, in ways that are in solidarity with the liberation with all Peoples, and all beings. Darcy currently consults with youth-serving organizations on topics related to rites of passage and social justice. She holds an M.A. in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle.

Cameron Withey

Cameron 2017Cameron Withey began leading youth rites of passage in 2011. Wandering the woods at The Evergreen State College, he found his calling through self-designed studies in eco-psychology, contemporary rites of passage, and writing. He served as Journeys’ Program Director from 2015-2018, and joined the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council in 2017. As a poet and sixth-generation Pacific Northwesterner with ancestry in the Celtic Isles, his soul is full of sea, green, and many shades of grey. He is passionate about addressing the cultural challenges of becoming fully human and deeply belonging to this Earth. He strives to be both a student and ally in indigenous spiritualities and politics, as an activist, poet, and community-builder.
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