Gender empowerment (confidence and pride in being a young woman); a deep sense of belonging and acceptance for who she is; a greater understanding of herself, her body, and what’s important to her; valuable friendships; individualized mentoring & support; guided nature connection & skills. In our rite of passage program, your daughter will also experience a powerful nature-based coming-of-age process and ceremony.
Anyone who self-identifies as a girl, aged 12-14, is most welcome.
NO! We are unified as girls/women AND each unique in our own right. A major component to coming-of-age is discovering one’s unique gifts and bringing them into the world. It’s not possible for us to be the same! Every girl is different and we want that represented in our group. We all learn from each other and recognize the strength in our diversity.
We accept mature 11-yr olds as age does not necessarily determine readiness and fit for our programs. If you believe your daughter is ready to learn about and be recognized as a young woman, please contact us.
For our shorter programs, the facilitator(s) are the mentors and will spend 1-on-1 time with each participant throughout the program to address individual needs. We have designated time for mentorship, which happens during activities such as crafting.
For our longer rite of passage program, each participant has her own mentor for the entire 6 months. Women apply to be mentors for the rite of passage and go through a process much like a job application. Successful applicants must clear a criminal record check and participate in mentor training. In the first program session, each girl chooses who she wants as a mentor. This will be facilitated in a respectful, confidential way. From there, each pair can choose how they want to connect, which could be a mixture of hanging out, going on walks, doing fun activities, skype/phone calls, etc. They connect for 1-2 hours once a week from May-Aug (with exceptions for summer vacations), and then bi-weekly Sept-Oct. This 1-on-1 mentorship time is in addition to the group meetings. Mentors also come on the 5-day overnight trip in July.
We keep our groups small to encourage and maintain depth, connection and intimacy. Smaller sizes also enable effective, personalized mentorship. We currently welcome 12 girls in each program.
Spending time alone in nature is a pan-cultural practice that humans have done throughout history to gain perspective and a deeper understanding of ourselves and of life. It is a very grounding, regenerative tool that develops personal resilience, self-discovery and gratitude. In all our programs, we spend group-time (playing games, hiking, crafting) and some supervised alone-time in nature. For example, a core nature connection practice is the ‘Sit Spot’ where participants each choose a special place to spend some time alone. They are guided to do so safely, always within sight and sound of a mentor.
In our rite of passage program, the girls gradually build the amount of time they spend in Sit Spots to prepare them for their main challenge of a supervised 8-hour solo during our 5-day trip. Safety systems are put in place and adults are never far. Elisa, our lead guide, is certified in Advanced Wilderness First Aid and has been guiding youth in the wilderness for 15 years.
Rites of passage make life transitions visible and explicit, and one of the characteristics of coming-of-age is a movement away from parental figures in order to find self-identity in the greater world. In general, please be respectful of what your daughter may or may not want to share with you as she goes through this process, knowing that it is perfectly normal for her to want more privacy. We know this can be hard! Please know that you are supporting her by enabling mentors in her life, and we are also happy to provide a resource list of recommended books and websites for both parents and girls. We recommend being available to her if she wants to share, and being honest if you don’t know the answers to her questions. This could be an opportunity to explore and learn together, and often, listening is all that is actually required. We also recommend being open to new or revised, negotiated responsibilities along with their consequences to prepare her for adulthood.
For fathers, a daughter’s physical maturation and budding sexuality may have them taking a step back during this time. Although respecting her privacy is important, it is also deeply beneficial for girls if their fathers to stay present, be explicitly accepting and offer sincere compliments during this time when self-consciousness is often high. This can make a big difference in your daughter’s confidence now and into her future as a woman. Displays of affection can be adjusted appropriately to acknowledge her change and still show care.
Since coming-of-age involves a delicate and sometimes ever-changing balance of family support and individual freedom, it is important for family to be present at the scheduled family times in our programs. This is especially relevant in our rite of passage. Since the girls are forming their independence but still heavily dependent on you, it is crucial to have your blessing in saying goodbye to girlhood – to being your little girl – so they can step confidently into young womanhood and a new or different relationship with you. And as a young woman, she needs to be recognized by her family for her new status. We look forward to providing these precious and bonding opportunities for your family.
YES! A wonderful community member has offered us time with her equine therapy horse for the rite of passage program. We’re excited to incorporate this lovely being into our program.
We sure hope so!