A Yearlong Rite of Passage Journey for Boys

For Boys Ages 12-15

The intention of this program goes beyond tracking and backpacking, extending into the realm of social and emotional intelligence as we will spend time both in solitude and in circle during our gatherings.  Our goal is to create a context for youth to access and express their truths and their wisdom, with a foundation in nature.  Throughout each gathering, we will practice core routines of nature connection, with the intention of cultivating relationship to and finding our individual place in nature. 

Beyond nature explorations and backpacking trips, we will include time with indigenous elders and wisdom keepers who will facilitate opportunities such as sweat lodge, sunrise ceremony, or other fire ceremonies to allow them to connect with their own vitality and their transition towards young adulthood.  Also, we will utilize the way of council, as a format for sharing our individual experiences, whether in reference to a game, school, our solo time, or themes emerging in our greater culture.  The goal is to share not only ‘survival’ skills which a young man would need to know in the wild, but also ‘thrival’ skills for being a whole human, in touch with themselves and empowered to engage life with wisdom.

In the grand view, this program is a piece of the puzzle of cultural regeneration, renewing rites of passage for youth while engaging the gifts of the family in that process.  In the course of the year, we hope to weave strong bonds with everyone involved - amongst the boys and the families as well as with the team of facilitators.  In this village model, we will have opportunities for parents to engage in other gatherings and ceremonies deepening our connection and capacity to support the youth.

Annual Program

Summer - Fire: Creating Fire & Gathering As A Circle
Nature Connection: Hazards & nature awareness, ecological indicators, fire-making, foraging
Inner Nature: mindfulness, intention setting, self-care and self-respect, exploring the sacred and profane, council, improvisation, storytelling

Autumn - Earth: Fall Harvest & Deepening Relations
Nature Connection: Wild foods nutrition, Fruit & nut harvesting and processing, medicine-making, heritage species
Inner Nature: grounding practices, chi gong, sharing our gifts, sweat lodge

Winter - Water: Survival Skills & Emotional Intelligence
Nature Connection: Survival, orienteering, fire making and tending, shelter building, animal processing, hides and leatherwork, archery & bow-making
Inner Nature: Mindfulness, expressing emotions, grief release

Spring - Air: Interpreting bird language and human language
Nature Connection: Tracking and bird language, animal teachings, gardening, permaculture, spring edibles
Inner Nature: Deep listening and wise speech, learning peace-making and conflict resolution, aikido

Summer - Fire: Wilderness Quest & Personal Vision
Nature Connection: Weaving it all together - ecology of place
Inner Nature: Ceremony, solo time, storytelling, finding and following our passions, cultivating our gifts, ecological leadership, re-visioning family relationships

Late Summer: Harvest, Completion & Transition
All-family ceremony marking completion of the quest and sharing stories

Annual Schedule

  • Summer 2016
    Campout (3 nights): 10am, July 12th (Tuesday) - 2pm,  July 15th (Friday)

  • Fall 2016
    2 Saturdays: September 17th, 11am - 5pm and November 5th - 11am to 5pm each
    Campout (1 night): 10am, October 8th - 2pm, October 9th

  • Winter 2016-2017
    3 Saturdays:  December 3rd, February 4th, March 4th - 10am to 4pm each

  • Spring 2017
    2 Saturdays: April 1st, June 3rd - 11am to 5pm each
    Campout (1 night): 10am, May 6th - 2pm, May 7th

  • Summer 2017
    Campout (4 nights): July 24th - July 28th
    Saturday: Aug 26th, 1 - 5pm


Instructor: Spencer Nielsen

Ages: 12-15 year old boys

Dates: July 2016 - August 2017

Notes: Includes 2 backpacking trips, monthly daylong meetings, 2 overnight campouts, 6 parent evening meetings, totaling over 220 contact hours

Meeting locations: To be determined, based upon location of participants - summer trips in Northern California, daylongs in Marin, and weekends in the Bay Area.



Rate A: $3900
Rate B: $3400
Rate C: $2900

*Ceremonies with elders will be made possible by your donations, as putting a price on it is impossible.  They will likely happen once per season. 

Please read an explanation of our pricing tiers before you submit your registration.

Payment plans and scholarships are available.  Contact us for more information.