A Yearlong Rite of Passage Journey for Boys • AGES 13-15

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.


  • Fall 2019 - Earth: Fall Harvest & Deepening Relations
    2 Daylongs: September 29th and December 7th, 10am to 4pm each
    Campout (1 night): 10am, October 26th - 2pm, October 27th
    Parent Meeting (TBD)
    Nature Connection: Wild fruit & nut harvesting and processing, medicine-making, heritage species
    Inner Nature: Grounding practices, chi gong, sharing our gifts

  • Winter 2020 - Water: Survival Skills & Emotional Intelligence
    2 Daylongs:  January 26th and February 23rd, 10am- 4pm each
    Parent Meeting (TBD)
    Nature Connection: Survival, fire making and tending, shelter building, animal processing, hides and leatherwork
    Inner Nature: Expressing emotions, grief release

  • Spring 2020 - Air: Interpreting bird language and human language
    Campout: 10am, March 28th - 2pm, March 29th
    Campout (1 night): 6pm, May 8th - 2pm, May 9th
    Parent Meeting (TBD)
    Nature Connection: Tracking and bird language, animal teachings, gardening, permaculture, spring edibles, archery & bow-making
    Inner Nature: Deep listening and wise speech, learning peace-making and conflict resolution, aikido

  • Summer 2020 - Fire: Wilderness Quest & Personal Vision
    Campout (4 nights): 10am, June 16th - 4pm, June 20th
    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

  • Fall 2020 - Harvest, Completion & Transition
    Parent meeting (TBD)
    Campout: 4pm September 12th- 1pm, Sept. 13th 
    All-family ceremony marking completion of the quest and sharing stories


Instructors: Spencer Nielsen & guest instructors

Ages: 13-15 year old boys

Dates: September 2019 - September 2019

Notes: Includes 1 backpacking trip, 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: $3300
Rate B: $2800
Rate C: $2300

*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.

How to register:
• Fill out Elemental Quest Application
• After your application is received we’ll contact you to proceed


Refunds: Refunds are as per Vilda’s refund policy.  Once the program starts there are no refunds, as we wont add participants late.  Please make sure you and your son have connected with Vilda and with Spencer and or Nick prior to this program.  See application for listing “past programs” with Vilda/Spencer/Nick.  We will only consider partial refunds for major medical limitation that disallow the youth to continue the program.  Please contact us for more information.

Risk management: Due to the fact that this program is a teen rites of passage program, there are inherent risks in what we do in nature, as with all programs.  Given the age of your son, and the adventure elements in this program - from high ropes course and backpacking trips, we need families to be clear about our medical waiver in that your participation is voluntary and you understand the risks.  As an organization and staff, we try to facilitate healthy risk-taking and yet need you to agree to our medical waiver, which includes having adequate health insurance for your youth and that it will always be utilized first in case of a need arises.