ABOUT RITES OF PASSAGE
If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.
~ Michael Meade
We believe rites of passage (i.e. the preparation and marking of one’s transition from one phase of development to the next) are critical for today’s youth and culture at large. We honor the transition between childhood and adolescence through our Tides and Ridgelines programs as well as the passage from adolescence to young adulthood in our Blue Ridge Passage trip.
Our rites of passage programming supports both the young people and their parents. In order for teens to transition from childhood to adolescence in a healthy way, parents and other adults in the community must be involved. It is natural and developmentally appropriate that, during adolescence, a young person’s focus shifts away from their families and moves toward their peer relationships and social status. It is the role of the parents to let them go, while it is the responsibility of the community to receive the child and mentor them during this turbulent and creative time.
As these shifts occur, teens need support outside of the family structure. They need to be seen by their peers and adults who are not their parents. They also
need to be challenged in healthy ways.
According to the School of Lost Borders, “When young people are not offered the opportunity to push their edges and challenge themselves through rites of passage, they will seek self-initiation nonetheless, a pattern observable in the modernized world through high rates of suicide, substance abuse, violence, gang activity, and myriad forms of recklessness displayed by teens.” Without a marking of this passage, many teens continue to live like children, even into their adulthood. This work is important because we need a generation that is grounded and empowered, that can be caretakers of themselves, their communities, and the Earth.
Bill Plotkin writes in Nature and the Human Soul that “the passage of puberty usually holds a good deal of unavoidable sadness for both the parent and child. Childhood is over.” It is therefore necessary that the parents are supported as they do the rigorous work of letting their child go, knowing that there is a community to receive their son or daughter as they do so. We find that parents often need education on the developmental phase of adolescence in order to best serve their children.
Watch Rites of Passage: Mentoring the Future, a short film, to learn more about the importance of rites of passage in our modern culture
Interested in learning more about rites of passage work and its relevance? Check out the following resources for more information:
Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin
Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage
Betwixt and Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation by Louise Carus Mahdi
From Boys to Men: Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age by Bret Stephenson