1. How do I know if I’m ready for this?

You’ll know you’re ready when you can’t ignore the inner calling. As you embark on the journey, you will undoubtedly meet old ghosts, doubts, failures, childhood wounds that call to be healed. Your fears may suddenly rise up, threatening to defeat you before you even get started. But—and this is key—fear is just part of the territory. You continue despite your fears; this is called “courage.” Surrounded by the beautiful wilderness and with loving support from the community of guides and questers, you discover the place where you are already “home,” already whole.  A rite of passage marks a change in life stage.  At a time of transition, you may be hearing the call to quest, deep in your soul.

A Vision Quest, as a rite of passage, has a three-part structure: dying to an old life, crossing a threshold into “the other world,” and returning to the world you left behind. On the Vision Quest, you can dialogue with everything as “Sacred Other”: plants, animals, air, stars, wind. Our ancestors surely knew how to do this, but our modern world has forgotten.

Such a ceremony doesn’t mark what we wish were true, it marks what is true in our deepest nature. The Vision Quest solo, with its immersion in solitude and silence, offers a challenge that will allow you to claim the truth that has been growing inside.  As you prepare for the solo with the support and encouragement of the program guides, you begin to understand what your soul is telling you. When you step into wild nature, you’ll encounter your own wild soul, listen to its song, and begin to live from this bigger self. The poet David Whyte expresses it beautifully:

You must learn one thing.
the world was made to be free in…

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
~from Sweet Darkness

2. Why should I go with Rites of Passage instead of another organization?

You’ll know you’re ready when you can’t ignore the inner calling. As you embark on the journey, you will undoubtedly meet old ghosts, doubts, failures, childhood wounds that call to be healed. Your fears may suddenly rise up, threatening to defeat you before you even get started. But—and this is key—fear is just part of the territory. You continue despite your fears; this is called “courage.” Surrounded by the beautiful wilderness and with loving support from the community of guides and questers, you discover the place where you are already “home,” already whole.  A rite of passage marks a change in life stage.  At a time of transition, you may be hearing the call to quest, deep in your soul.

A Vision Quest, as a rite of passage, has a three-part structure: dying to an old life, crossing a threshold into “the other world,” and returning to the world you left behind. On the Vision Quest, you can dialogue with everything as “Sacred Other”: plants, animals, air, stars, wind. Our ancestors surely knew how to do this, but our modern world has forgotten.

Such a ceremony doesn’t mark what we wish were true, it marks what is true in our deepest nature. The Vision Quest solo, with its immersion in solitude and silence, offers a challenge that will allow you to claim the truth that has been growing inside.  As you prepare for the solo with the support and encouragement of the program guides, you begin to understand what your soul is telling you. When you step into wild nature, you’ll encounter your own wild soul, listen to its song, and begin to live from this bigger self. The poet David Whyte expresses it beautifully:

You must learn one thing.
the world was made to be free in…

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
~from Sweet Darkness

3. Why do you suggest fasting for the Vision Quest? What if I can’t fast?

Many spiritual traditions and religions use fasting to help induce a shift in consciousness and mark a change from ordinary daily life. We recommend the fast for spiritual reasons, not for health reasons (although there may be health benefits to fasting). Fasting helps clarify the mind and spirit, even as it weakens the body. You could say that fasting “opens doors to the other world.” Rumi puts it this way:

We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

Adults and older teens in good health should be able to undertake a 3 or 4 day fast safely, but some people cannot or should not fast, for example diabetics, or people taking certain medications. If you have any medical concerns about fasting, check with your health provider. If you can’t fast or choose not to, we suggest eating lightly as an alternative.

4. Do you need backpacking or camping experience to go on a Rites of Passage Vision Quest or other nature-based program?

You don’t need backpacking or camping experience—we’ve had people come who had never slept outdoors, and did fine. While all our programs involve time spent in nature, they provide different levels of challenge. Some shorter programs take place at a retreat center (where you’ll sleep indoors and eat meals from a kitchen) or campground (where you’ll sleep in a tent and help prepare food). For the Vision Quest, there are two types of base camp, walk-in and drive-in. While our walk-in base camps are usually less than two miles from the trailhead, drive-in base camps are a good choice for people who can’t carry a backpack this distance. You don’t need to go far from base camp to find your solo site–it could be within ½ mile of base camp and still offer you privacy and beauty.

5. Do you need to be in great condition to undertake a Vision Quest?

You don’t need to be in exceptional condition, just reasonably healthy. A good measure of adequate conditioning for the Vision Quest: to be able to walk a couple of miles on level ground. If you get out of breath or exhausted doing this, try walking for a few weeks before the quest begins.

Our summer programs take place at higher elevations, which require some acclimation to the thinner air. If you have difficulty adjusting to altitude, consider coming on a fall, winter or spring program at a lower elevation.

6. What equipment is required for Rites of Passage programs?

For the Vision Walk and most weekend programs, you’ll just need equipment to undertake daytime excursions into nature. A day pack, hiking boots or sturdy shoes, a water bottle, sun hat, sunscreen, personal emergency kit and journal are the main items.

For the Vision Quest, you’ll also need a warm sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tarp, rope, ground cloth, more water, and possibly a tent (for campground nights). Here is the complete equipment list for the Vision Quest. You don’t have to buy everything, you can rent or borrow gear and we can often loan some items.

1. How do I know if I'm ready for this?

You’ll know you’re ready when you can’t ignore the inner calling. As you embark on the journey, you will undoubtedly meet old ghosts, doubts, failures, childhood wounds that call to be healed. Your fears may suddenly rise up, threatening to defeat you before you even get started. But—and this is key—fear is just part of the territory. You continue despite your fears; this is called “courage.” Surrounded by the beautiful wilderness and with loving support from the community of guides and questers, you discover the place where you are already “home,” already whole.  A rite of passage marks a change in life stage.  At a time of transition, you may be hearing the call to quest, deep in your soul.

A Vision Quest, as a rite of passage, has a three-part structure: dying to an old life, crossing a threshold into “the other world,” and returning to the world you left behind. On the Vision Quest, you can dialogue with everything as “Sacred Other”: plants, animals, air, stars, wind. Our ancestors surely knew how to do this, but our modern world has forgotten.

Such a ceremony doesn’t mark what we wish were true, it marks what is true in our deepest nature. The Vision Quest solo, with its immersion in solitude and silence, offers a challenge that will allow you to claim the truth that has been growing inside.  As you prepare for the solo with the support and encouragement of the program guides, you begin to understand what your soul is telling you. When you step into wild nature, you’ll encounter your own wild soul, listen to its song, and begin to live from this bigger self. The poet David Whyte expresses it beautifully:

You must learn one thing.
the world was made to be free in…

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
~from Sweet Darkness

2. Why should I go with Rites of Passage instead of another organization?

In doing this work for over 35 years, we’ve learned a great deal about guiding people on rites of passage in nature, and we’ve incorporated this learning into our program designs. Our work has been field-tested with a wide range of communities and cultures: youth, young adults, women & men, LGBT, and in different countries. We’re pleased to say that we’ve met with great success with all these audiences.

We meet the highest standards for safety and professionalism in our work. We provide at least two staff on every wilderness program, so that if a participant needed to leave the wilderness, one staff person could always remain with the group. Every Vision Quest program has a certified Wilderness First Responder on staff, trained to save lives in back country emergency situations. We also obtain special use permits for all programs on Federal lands, which is required by law. Permits help protect participants as well as safeguarding the environment.

There’s also an intuitive aspect to choosing a guide organization. With our approach of providing loving, caring support balanced by just the right amount of challenge, our work will appeal to those

who are on a healing path
who are looking for a rich experience of community
who know they must step into the unknown despite feeling afraid
who feel called to the hero’s/heroine’s path
who feel called to live a life of purpose
who feel called to live in accord with their deepest nature
who long for a deeper connection to nature

3. Why do you suggest fasting for the Vision Quest? What if I can't fast?

Many spiritual traditions and religions use fasting to help induce a shift in consciousness and mark a change from ordinary daily life. We recommend the fast for spiritual reasons, not for health reasons (although there may be health benefits to fasting). Fasting helps clarify the mind and spirit, even as it weakens the body. You could say that fasting “opens doors to the other world.” Rumi puts it this way:

We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

Adults and older teens in good health should be able to undertake a 3 or 4 day fast safely, but some people cannot or should not fast, for example diabetics, or people taking certain medications. If you have any medical concerns about fasting, check with your health provider. If you can’t fast or choose not to, we suggest eating lightly as an alternative.

4. Do you need backpacking or camping experience to go on a Rites of Passage Vision Quest or other nature-based program?

You don’t need backpacking or camping experience—we’ve had people come who had never slept outdoors, and did fine. While all our programs involve time spent in nature, they provide different levels of challenge. Some shorter programs take place at a retreat center (where you’ll sleep indoors and eat meals from a kitchen) or campground (where you’ll sleep in a tent and help prepare food). For the Vision Quest, there are two types of base camp, walk-in and drive-in. While our walk-in base camps are usually less than two miles from the trailhead, drive-in base camps are a good choice for people who can’t carry a backpack this distance. You don’t need to go far from base camp to find your solo site–it could be within ½ mile of base camp and still offer you privacy and beauty.

5. Do you need to be in great condition to undertake a Vision Quest?

You don’t need to be in exceptional condition, just reasonably healthy. A good measure of adequate conditioning for the Vision Quest: to be able to walk a couple of miles on level ground. If you get out of breath or exhausted doing this, try walking for a few weeks before the quest begins.

Our summer programs take place at higher elevations, which require some acclimation to the thinner air. If you have difficulty adjusting to altitude, consider coming on a fall, winter or spring program at a lower elevation.

6. What equipment is required for Rites of Passage programs?

For the Vision Walk and most weekend programs, you’ll just need equipment to undertake daytime excursions into nature. A day pack, hiking boots or sturdy shoes, a water bottle, sun hat, sunscreen, personal emergency kit and journal are the main items.

For the Vision Quest, you’ll also need a warm sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tarp, rope, ground cloth, more water, and possibly a tent (for campground nights). Here is the complete equipment list for the Vision Quest. You don’t have to buy everything, you can rent or borrow gear and we can often loan some items.

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