Rites of Passage for Youth

From John: Hi Lisa, I just thought I'd post this up here so it would be open to the forum...I also have a reply for you.

From Lisa: Hi Bonnie, I would like to take part in helping you with your holiday wish.  I am the mother of four sons ages 8, 11, 11, and 13.  We are thinking about what could be meaningful rites of passage for them.  I am involved in Woman Within International and my husband The Mankind Project so we have some ideas, but would welcome input from anyone out there who has some ideas they would be willing to share around ritual in any culture.  FYI, this spring they will take part in Boys to Men, if anyone is familiar with that.  I would appreciate any input.  Thanks, Lisa

From John: Hi Lisa,

I participated in and worked for several years at Northwaters and Langskib Wilderness Program in Temagami, ON. On the surface, the program is a outdoor leadership program, however it's core is built around ideas of rites of passage, group psychology and mythology. It was actually my introduction to depth psychology. When trips were on trail, there were several adult programs. My first year as a staff member, I worked in the kitchen at base camp during these programs, where I served pancakes and did dishes for Robert Johnson, Louis Mahdi, and Barry Williams. In addition, there's group dynamics adult programs held by Rod Napier, so I had a chance for casual conversation with so wonderful, authentic and forward thinking individuals at a relatively young age. All of these influences meet in the program through Dave Knudsen, a somewhat legendary figure in his own right, who started the program in '71. He's currently building an viking ship in Washington state as we speak to begin a west coast rites of passage program that would explore the coasts of the pacific northwest. In addition, Michael Jarvis, the director of Langskib (the young mens program/island) is a graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute.

NWL has two programs for boys, Excalibur and Langskib. Excalibur is for the younger guys 10-12, while Langskib goes from 12-18. In addition, there is a satellite non-profit organization, the Deepwater Experiential Education Project (DEEP) which helps provide scholarships for participation.

I hope this helps you with your search, I give it the strongest recommendation possible!

Have a nice holiday!


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  • Organization
    I also participated in a similar program. Mine was called Project Soar and based in Balsam North Carolina. It was certainly a pivotal expeirence in my life.
  • Hi John,

    Wow! Even better that you are a graduate of Langskib! I am off to NY today, but will check it all out in the next day or two. I would love to contact you by phone to find out more and give you a background on who the boys are.

    Have a great day, and much gratitude for your help!


  • Hi Lisa,

    I don't have any sons that participated (yet). However, next best thing, I AM a son that experienced Langskib! (Excalibur wasn't around yet). Without getting too much into my own story, I can say that my time at NWL, as a youth and as a guide, was the strongest influence in my life that made me realize the value of a critical, psychological, and reflective perspective on our world and times. I'd be happy to talk more with you if you like, and/or put you in contact with parents from the organization if you'd like to discuss on that level.

  • Hi John,

    That is tremendously helpful, and I will check out the organizations. They sound in line with what we are looking for. The boys have gone to a progressive school for the last eleven years, with a curriculum steeped in ritual, myth self-advocacy. Still it is a challenge to integrate our values in an ever changing world where instant everything is valued over simplicity. Do you have sons who have experienced Excalibur or Langskib? I appreciate the input and hope to keep the conversation rolling.


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