Youth Video

This is a video highlighting the value and power of our work with youth.  

Youth Programs

Since the dawn of humanity, young people have felt a need to undertake meaningful rites of passage as they approach adulthood. Lacking the opportunity to engage in positive initiatory experiences, youth may instead make attempts at self-initiation, which often fail to bring increased maturity and self-responsibility. Since our inception 30 years ago, Rites of Passage has offered the opportunity for youth to confirm and celebrate their entry into adulthood. The increased self-knowledge and self-respect that result from participation in a youth rite of passage can have a positive effect that lasts a lifetime.

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Youth Sharing

In young people's own words,  from the January 2011 Vision Quest:

Clio, age 18

Clio3Through this experience, I have found more inside of myself than I ever thought could possibly exist—so much appreciation, so much beauty, so much truth, so much love.  I discovered both the darkness of myself and the darkness of the earth.  And when the sun rose the next morning, I saw both myself and the world we all live in in a new light. 





jack2Jack, age 18

Just go.  It is an experience you cannot get any other way.  Everyone should be able to see life in this way.  This is a place you can never come back from but would never dream of wanting to.  I know it may seem unbelieveable but this entire experience has raised every aspect of my life to a new level.  It happens to everyone; it brings out what you always had needed to let out but never did.  It shows you yourself beyond the purest form you can imagine.  Take the plunge fro yourself and the world, and go. 


Charlotte, age 18

CharlotteI have been scared, in the best way.  This experience has allowed me to see myself with new eyes.  I found what I was searching for, because it was there all along.  There are no words to describe what happened on my vision quest…but if you really want to know, look into my eyes.  See the way I hold myself with confidence and strength.  Look at anyone of the questers and see how they have grown…how a light radiates from their body.  With the support and guidance of our adoptive elders (guides), I have had the opportunity to grow and truly move into adulthood.


 Chase, age 17

ChaseThis program/experience changed my life.  As a friend once said, I now find that the glass is always going to feel half full.  I had no expectations for this program, and it exceeded everything I thought it could.  I love the comfort and growth it has brought me, and showed inside me.  It illuminated a large part of the inside of me that I know will serve me forever.



Read more: Youth Sharing

The Next Step on the Wheel

by Sam Horton, Sonoma Academy

SamThe Owlshead Mountains on the southern boundary of Death Valley are high desert. The desert with its inherent challenges of alien vistas, heat, cold, and wind heightens a person’s senses. The expanse of the land can’t help but open one up to the unexpected. The power of the land is important and fundamental for the student’s journey inward. Rhythms of sunrise and sunset during the long, cold winter nights or the spring-time heat and relentless wind afford plenty of challenges, time for reflection and “dragon slaying.” As one student stated, “The desert was scary to me at first because it is so open and left me alone with my thoughts.”  The students often allow a dam of emotions to burst forth like a flash flood - a flood that never would happen in the comfort of familiarity and the routines of school.

Read more: The Next Step on the Wheel

Reflections on the Youth Vision Quest

by Steven Encinas, Rites of Passage staff
(note:  Steven recently completed the Rites of Passage guide training program)

Steven_Encinas“Where do I stand?  What do I believe?”  These were the questions one student stated that she hoped to find clarity for during her quest- common questions for, not only these, but all teenagers.  And if they don’t capture that window of opportunity before they fly from the nest, it could be decades until they finally land in a place that allows them to ask this again. 

Upon her return, before going back to her home and family, she was asked what she was bringing back with her.  “Passion, wonder, adventure, and connection,” she answered.  She then committed to continuing the expression of wonder, as well as the adventure of figuring it all out.

Read more: Reflections on the Youth Vision Quest

Sonoma Academy H.S. Vision Quest

By Ellie Dwight, Dean of Students, Sonoma Academy

This past January we contracted with Rites of Passage, Inc., to lead a nine-day Vision Quest with eight members of our senior class and two faculty members. Since Sonoma Academy’s inception six years ago we have hoped to have a Vision Quest for our students, and this year proved to be the perfect time. Without exception the students who participated in the Vision Quest had experiences of profound learning and growth. Many of them said the trip was the best thing they had ever done and spoke powerfully to the underclassmen by urging them to participate in future years.

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Waldorf High School Vision Quest

by Jeannie Elliott, former Chair of Humanities, Summerfield Waldorf School

For the past two years Mike Bodkin and Bob Palmer of Rites of Passage have taken teenagers from Summerfield Waldorf High School in Santa Rosa, CA into the desert to experience a personal vision quest. The framework for these quests is the traditional Open Week at Summerfield, a week in the fall when students go off campus with their teachers to experience the world through physical and practical activity. We have built dwellings in Mexico, hiked the Lost Coast, bicycled to Santa Cruz, kayaked in Tomales Bay, sailed on San Francisco Bay, learned to build straw bale structures, created puppets for Santa Rosa's First Night, etc. Rites of Passage got involved because Bob is a Summerfield parent and had a personal vision that the Rites of Passage quest would complement Waldorf education. 
Read more: Waldorf High School Vision Quest

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