August 9-14, 2020
Passages is a week-long overnight wilderness experience that provides a nurturing and meaningful rite-of-passage experience for adolescents ages 13-16. This program guides and supports young adult campers through an immersive week of exploring their relationship to self, to community, and to the earth.
Led by experienced Nature Place staff, campers take leave of their respective communities and head into nearby state forest land together. The group will learn wilderness survival skills for securing shelter, food, fire, and water. While developing self-reliance and practical earth-knowledge, program participants will be provided with deliberate space for community building, self-reflection, ceremony, and the cultivation of spiritual and artistic practices. Passages carefully holds a space for campers to deepen connection to themselves while traversing the transition of adolescence.
Shelter . Food . Fire . Water
Participants spend each day building skills to secure these four basic, sacred needs in the wilderness. Our focus is on methods of shelter building, procuring and preparing food, securing and purifying water and fire-building techniques.
In a safe and supportive space, participants are encouraged to take advantage of the many ways that being in the wilderness allows for a deeper relationship to oneself. Solo time for campers to work on a practice of their choice is coupled with ample time for formal and informal reflection, and facilitated challenges that require turning inward and discovering the meaning of self-reliance.
Like so many rituals passed down from generation to generation, the rite-of-passage is traditionally one that is guided and bookended by ceremony. Without revealing the special ways in which this transition will be marked during our program, we can say that each participant’s life history will be honored, their gifts acknowledged, and their individuality celebrated.
Time for self-connection is balanced with community building and bonding. Tasks for the well-being of the group are shared amongst all participants, as we learn our own strengths and how to best take care of our collective needs. Campers have a hand in shaping how the group accomplishes its responsibilities. We will share what we have learned along the way, and connect through music, stories, and more at nightly campfires.
Meet the Instructors
Joe has been immersed in the world of earth skills for years, honing his craft through his studies at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in Waretown, NJ. Joe’s mission is to share his knowledge of these ancestral skills, and help folks of all ages reconnect to nature and to their instincts and intuition. He has worked with the local organization Children of the Earth Foundation, Twin Eagles Wilderness School in Idaho, the Whidbey Institute in Washington, and independently with local communities including homeschool groups and adults.
In summer 2017, Joe joined The Nature Place Day Camp staff as our Outdoor Skills activity leader, and as a camping trip leader. When not leading workshops, Joe can often be found roaming the woods with his sidekick, Cyra, a big fluffy dog. Joe is a Wilderness First Responder and CPR certified.
Emily has been with The Nature Place for 19 magical and nourishing summers. She was a camper, CIT, counselor, and a member of our summer administrative team, before joining our year-round staff in her current role as Program and Communications Coordinator.
Emily’s formal education includes a BA in both Environmental Studies and Sociology, a minor in biology, and post-college coursework in environmental education. After college, Emily worked as a Naturalist in Mendocino, California before returning to The Nature Place. Emily is Wilderness First Aid and CPR Certified.
Several years ago, Emily participated in a Passages-esque program in which she backpacked through the California wilderness for ten weeks, studying Eco-psychology, traditional and modern Rites of Passage, and wilderness living skills. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to create a meaningful and unforgettable experience for Passages participants, as she knows first-hand how transformative it can be.
Across time and in countless ways, people of many cultures have gone into the wilderness to mark life transitions and seek guidance. The core of the form was clear: leaving the ordinary world, crossing a threshold, and returning with a gift and a task. It was an initiation, a rite of passage, a new birth in the womb of the natural world.