Restoring Rites of Passage for Youth: A Two-Week Leadership Intensive

Step Boldly Into the World of Youth Initiation...

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 will give you 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 learn frameworks and tools for rite of passage leadership, program facilitation, and adolescent development. Through personal reflection, exploration, and sharing, you will gain a deeper understanding of 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. We will also address 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

  • Skills in further developing your own relationships with self, nature, community, and the sacred, and mentoring and guiding young people in doing the same

  • Training in theoretical and practical fundamentals in creating rite of passage experiences, including ritual & ceremonial design, working with different populations, logistics, safety, and much 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

  • A deeper understanding of your own journey through adolescence, and the opportunity to heal some wounds and identify others that you need to work on

  • A deeper relationship with your own ancestral heritage, and tools for guiding culturally appropriate, culturally relevant rites of passage in the context of settler colonialism

  • A deeper understanding of adolescent development, from neurological, psychological, cultural, and ecological perspectives

  • Tools for bridging between worlds: helping you embody the world you wish to see in the context of present-day realities

  • Fluency with Rite of Passage Journeys’ mentoring framework and key strategies, originally developed by Stan Crow and honed over 50 years of working with young people

  • A trauma-aware approach to mentoring, along with an understanding of the essential role of embodiment practices in healing trauma and cultivating wholeness in general

  • A basic toolbox to apply what you’ve learned to a range of contexts and populations

Mentoring on Journeys Youth Programs

This training – 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 on the Journeys website, and contact Cameron Withey, Program Director, with questions, inquiries, and applications, at


$2250. This is all-inclusive – food, camping and permit fees, and transportation are covered for the duration of the program. We are happy to arrange payment plans, and we welcome financial aid applications. Journeys has never turned away a participant for lack of funds

Application Process

1. Please complete this brief registration form on the Journeys website.

2. Please send a letter of intent to Cameron Withey, Program Director, at We invite you to consider the following 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 in the program.

Questions to consider for your Letter of Intent...

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!

Photo from ROPJ

Photo from ROPJ


Rite of Passage Journeys
Bothell, WA and Other Locations


Financial Aid is Available

Taught By

Darcy Ottey, Cameron Whithey, and others

Get more Information

Visit the ROPJ Website >