Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coming of Age for Girls II, Ages 12 - 14

We had a great time! Our journey was filled with laughter, challenges, and deep meaning. We had highs and lows and everything in between that makes for a transformative journey. Here are a few things the participants said about this trip:

"I've learned to love myself on the inside just as much as on the out. This journey was life-changing. Now I know there is more to life than meets the eye." -Participant, age 13

"During my trip, I went in the forest, through the mountains, walked on amazing beaches, and hiked next to incredible waterfalls. I learned a lot about myself, inner and outer - wise, and I am so glad I got to have the experience and opportunity to do so." - Participant, age 14

"I learned that when things get hard, keep on going--don't stop. My favorite part of this trip was Sacred Groves and the solo." - Participant, age 13

"I have gone on three Journeys trips and every one has been a life-changing, wonderful experience."
- Participant, age 13

"I learned I am much stronger than I thought I was. I think my most challenging moment on this trip was the solo but I think it only made me stronger and I will remember this trip forever." - Participant, age 13

Our Song: "Hike With Me"

If you wanna go take a hike with me

Come get on the trail and follow me

Oh why did I slip and fall

Must be muddy!

If you wanna go set up a tarp with me

Go get the P-Cord and find a tree

Go crawl in your sleeping bag

Let’s get cozy!

If you have to go and take a poop

Just grab the orange shovel and scoop, scoop, scoop

Oh what is your rating today?

Must be a twenty!

If you want to go and build a fire with me

Just grab some kindling and build a teepee

Oh why won’t the lighter work?

Must be too windy!

If you wanna go and take a solo

Stop eating, drink water and go, go, go

Oh why do I feel so hungry?

Must be my tummy!

If you wanna get past the tide

Just take off your pack and start to climb.

Oh why is this so easy?

Must be Jerry!

Our trip has been fun, we got a lotta sun

But now it’s done and we gotta run

And we feel like a family

Must be the Journey!

- Introductions of Participants and Staff -
I’m Dominae

And we’re the Funky Bunch

And we’re guaranteed to be better than your lunch

Give me my chili and I’ll shout a little louder

I’m Kayley Bug and I’m a backcountry thug

And I’ve learned a lot about myself and love

Anya’s my name, Backcountry’s my game

My trail name is Ashton and I hike with a passion

My Name is Frida and I aint no reada

It ain’t no lie that I make a good stir fry

My name is Joy Duncan. I like to eat

And when I go to sleep I get cold feet.

My name is Melissa I can rhyme any word

I am a songbird and I lead the herd.

I’m Home Skillet and this is my crew

And our community sticks together like glue.

My name is Katie and they call me ladybug

If you’re hiking up the ladder I give you a tug.

Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.

And if you think our rap is dope

And that’s no joke

Everybody say O-Yayer.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Call to Adventure!

Eight youth, ages 10 - 12, answer the Call to Adventure and help out the WA state beaches.

On day 6, of a 7 day journey, the group rigged a travoy to carry out aprox. 200lbs of garbage from Hole-in-the-Wall trail, near Rialto Beach! Great job everyone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

BMW ("Burly Mountain Women") Throwdown

Burly Mountain Women from John LaGow on Vimeo.

by Erin, Maddy, Sophie, Aurelia, JoJo, Molly (Coming of Age Girls I 2010)

Pop it, Lock it, Boy that’s heavy it

Take it to the trail and start your adventure it

Take your wings to the sky, tell your feet good-bye

Walk up the mountain, “You see it?!” Fly!

Zig-Zag, ‘cross the trail

Know that you can never fail

When your heart beats

Can’t feel your feet

We keep going through rain and sleet! And a’

Zig-Zag step slide

Going through the snow I feel three times!

Chilled to the bone from head to toe

Throw it all together that’s how we roll.

We’re the BM – W’s!

We’re the BM – W’s!

We’re the BM – W’s!

Burly Mountain Women that’s how we roll!

Strap it, tie it, back-country-fy it.

Going to the beach to hike in the sand with it

Put your tarp in the sky

Tell dependence good-bye

Start your own fire, Keep it alive!

Zig-Zag, ‘round the seal

Off to our solos without a meal

Maddy faints, her whistle blows

Look how fast those mentors go! And a’

Uh-oh, tide rolls in

Looks like we might have to swim

We have to poop and when we do

We like to rate it 10 to 2.

We’re the BM – W’s!

We’re the BM – W’s!

We’re the BM – W’s!

Burly Mountain Women that’s how we roll!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Coming of Age Boys I, Summer 2010

Written in entirety by the boys of COAB I: Matt, Spencer, Logan, Grayson, Cy, Jonah, and Rohan.

Rite of Passage Journeys is something that we would recommend to anyone wishing for a unique and challenging experience. The coming of Age for Boys 1 was outstanding. Many things about it were challenging and a lot of the time we were ready to go home. But now in the end we can really see this experience has changed us for the better. We have gone through this with perseverance and courage. We have seen our fellow mentees grow and change.

We wish to tell our story about our trip:

Ropes Course and Hiking

On the third day we went to a ropes course which was a lot of fun because we had the chance to do so many things like the power pole (which everyone made it to the top), the alligator crossing, the balance table, and the tight rope crossing. It was a lot of excitement because we literally had each other life's in our hands, also on top of the power pole there is a secret message and everyone said yes except Nevada who said, "The jury's still out," and Matt said "No," and we got a quote from Cy who said "It's all fun and games until someone dies."

We saw a lot of wild life throughout our journey; bear, raccoon, eagle, elk and many other interesting animals. The scenery in the mountains were very diverse. There were many rivers, dry land areas, waterfalls, snow and many large trees, gorges, it was beautiful. The hiking was the largest part of the trip, not because it was most important, but because it was most time consuming. We hiked about 60 miles total and approximately 5 miles a day. Though the hiking was time consuming we were very comfortable on trail, and very quick. We hiked the hilly trail from 3rd beach, to Toleak Point (~7 miles) in under 4 hours, including lunch breaks. I would say our speed on trail made up for 3 hour average time to get out of camp in the morning.

The food served to us on the trip was pretty decent. Although the portions could have been bigger because throughout the whole trip we were starving and always talking about food (that we could only get in civilization). At O'Neil Creek Camp, when it was rainy and the mosquitoes were eating us alive, Spencer decided that he didn't like his Quinoa so he snuck it into Grayson's bowl (didn't work out too well). On the Fourth of July when we were treated to marshmallows, Matt went into a sugar high and couldn't stop laughing for hours!

Not so funny stories that you shall find funny (we hope).

John the poo magnet: So we woke up on our second to last day in the Enchanted Valley and one thing we notice as we eat breakfast is that the two mentors John and Jason look very unhappy. Jason comes up to the group and asks where the soap is; his tone and body language indicate that he is very, very unhappy about something. Matt, the water tender, runs to help him wash his hands. All the while, Jason starts to look even more mad. Later that morning we are called to a meeting around the campfire. The reason for their displeasure is Jason's hands and John's bear can, stuff sack, shoe, and hip belt were covered in human feces. Apparently someone had woken up in the middle of the night and needed to eliminate colon substance. In the mainstream camping world (in our experience) you are taught to shat behind a log while sitting on the log. In the Journeys program, you are taught to bury your feces at least 250 feet away from any campsite and water. None of us confessed, so we were forced to go sit in solo positions and wait for a mentor to come around and question us. Each one of the mentees was confident he had not done it. Still no one confessed. At that point, John came around and stated that he was not mad at anyone, and just needed to know whether anyone was feeling sick, seeing that it may have been a health danger. In the mentees opinion, it was intentionally placed there by someone outside of the group as a practical joke because there was an outhouse in the area open to anyone who needed to use it. The mystery goes still unanswered and will likely never be answered. P.S. John got his shoe back.

O'Neil Sucks: First night on the trail, we were forced to stop in O'Neil Creek camp, debatably one of the worst camping locations of the trip. It was hot, humid, in the evening cold, and there were always, always throngs of mosquitoes. There were more mosquitoes there than there were hippies at Woodstock. After our first day on the trail, we were all very tired. We sat down on a log and made merry. Then the bugs hit. We struggled to get the tarp up, mainly because of the bad work ethics of the two tarp people. When it was time for dinner, disaster struck. We were having quinoa. Now the thing about quinoa is that it is super absorbent, and it may not look like much in the package but it definitely could have fed twenty people with seconds for all. It started to rain, and the quinoa got cold and clammy. But the worst part was, we could not use any seasoning to make it taste better. One of our group had the bright idea of putting cinnamon and sugar. Did not end well. Arguing broke out near the end of the first serving of quinoa. Two of our group left for bed before the second serving, and for once there was thirds (we learned a very important lesson: be careful what you wish for). We all went to bed.

Cy crushes flute (written by Cy): Our group had just come out of the bunkers of Port Townsend and finished doing an activity to build relationships with people we despise. It was the end of the day, we were all looking forward for dinner, and I got careless. I walked over to the cooler to get to my water bottle. I jumped over a bag, did not judge the length properly, and an earsplitting crack rang through the bunker. At first I was confused, and then I was horrified. I had shattered Jason's cedar flute, the one he used for all of the rituals. My hands flew to my mouth and I let out a gasp. I anticipated Jason to start shouting and cursing. Jason was shocked for a second, but kept his head and forgave me. Then Lawrence (leader of the previous activity) told him he could fix it. Lawrence truly, truly saved my skin.

Port Townsend Ecovillage and Solo

At the Ecovillage, we all built drums and let them cure while we were out on our solo. After the solo we built drum sticks and painted our drums in very interesting ways! We were all surprised about how amazing the outcome was! Before embarking on our 24 hour solo journey we burnt childhood masks, thus symbolizing the burning of our undesirable childhood values. During the solo the weather was windy and cold, everyone wished for more clothes, we were all hungry and missed the comfort of home and family (which we appreciate a lot more now). In the 24 hours Matt envisioned a cougar eating three crows, and Grayson saw a goldfinch fly through his tarp. When the mentors woke Grayson up in the middle of the night to check on him, he thought his Camelbak was his sleeping bag. The following day the sky cleared just like our souls. We were all also hungry and slothful the whole day.

We all wish to thank Journeys and everyone who helped make this experience possible. Without you we may still be lost trying to find our way. With you we will be able to live our lives with more understanding of life and the knowledge to gain a firmer grasp on how we should live our lives.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spring Adult Wilderness Quest

Spring Adult Wilderness Quest Reflections

We were different people from different cities going different directions. We met for one moment of life transformation and redirection in the wilds of Washington. This was a path we had chosen for answers…for clarification…because we knew this is what we were called to do even if we didn’t know why.

During the Spring Adult Wilderness Quest this year we blurred the lines of wildlife, self, and Gaia and found a deeper appreciation for the relationships we have built, the love that we give and receive, and the sacrifice of the trees and the animals that give us life. Kneeling before elk we became vulnerable. Our connection became powerful. Following the eagle’s path we became lost. We are now found. Dancing around a snake, we shed our old skin. In our hunger for more, we created new skin. Whatever we needed, this quest became medicine for our soul.

The challenges we faced were by choice. The victories we made were because of the inner gifts that we both uncovered and sharpened; and because of structure and heart of the Rite of Passage Journeys organization. The staff – Helen, Cassandra, Kirt – walk the walk and talk the talk in ways that are authenticate and heartfelt. They see your passion…they draw you near…they hold you close…and they help you dig deep and push through in ways that go beyond community – they become family.

Although nine days seemed like an enormous amount of time at the beginning, it became a blur of reality that left us with big, satiated smiles. We spent three days acknowledging and releasing our expectations and intentions of what a quest is and could be. Three days were spent alone, fasting, facing our fears, overcoming our challenges, and learning that we are stronger, more intuitive, more loved and capable of love than we ever knew. And then we finished with three days of no longer hiding behind the masks of our past existence. Without judgment we were welcomed. Even though some of us were tempted to leave during the hardest parts of the journey, we are now happy that we stayed. The last two days of the entire experience became the most critical, important part.

If it is true, you do not learn until you have time to reflect then we have only just begun to appreciate the gift of the Spring Adult Wilderness Quest experience. There was a combination of the natural and the sacred that resonated with each of us, enabling us to breathe, pray, and stomp our way through like warriors. In the end we are just like you. We are teachers, students, advocates, artists, advisers, therapists, guides, administrators, planners… and we are chosen. So are you.

Welcome home.

--Katie, Janel, Nadine, Candace, Jay, Julie, Tiffany, and Meris

From the 2010 Apprentices (a brand-new program)

We, the new staff of Journeys, made a group flag before our 3 day orientation trip out to the coast. A tradition shared by all Journeys trips, the flag flies at each campsite with our values we want like to create together plus the outline of our hands symbolizing our agreement tattooed on its side. During our trip, our many intentions to create a safe space in which to learn, experience, and perhaps make mistakes became flesh and that process created some of the most moving shared moments. There's really no substitute for feeling the sand of Third Beach in between your toes or transitioning from beach to green and soggy trail via a gnarly yosemite ladder but we'll try to recreate it for you!

We wanted to create CONNECTION

In only a few days, we were visited by small deer bounding up and down the beach, heralded first by nickle-sized tracks in the sand, a rainbow of starfish, huge white seals, bald eagles, a snake, and a river otter. The multitude of slugs and their inherent funniness captured our delight as well as tracks from both raccoons and bobcats. It seems crows narrated each part of our journey with raucous caw caws. Through these visitations and our contact with the beauty of off-shore haystacks or the pale night sky directly after sunset, our connection with the earth was deepened.

We wanted to bring GRATITUDE

Our connection to the earth lives close to our gratitude for it. Truly, that night of crescent moonlight under a sky full of stars silhouetting the small mountains of rock and fir standing in the waters of the Pacific reflected our own thanks at the chance to witness it, a first for a few of us. We found ourselves grateful for the immense wisdom and gracious support of both Darcy and Jason, our two Journeys veterans and guides without whom there would've been no trip. We would also be remiss if we didn't mention the tasty trail meals (You should ask Jason for his (in)famous mac and cheese recipe.) We celebrated each one with blessings beforehand.

We wanted HUMOR

We found as we grew closer to one another and especially in the last 12 hours of the trip, we felt more comfortable displaying the creative and zany parts of ourselves. Or perhaps the added humor preceded a tighter bond between us. Whatever the order, the last 24 hours saw us beginning to work together on a new level.

Laughing and smiling, we came together the last night to cook dinner, all 7 of us with a hand in this pot or that or doing the terribly important work of telling jokes and supervising. The next morning, our day started at 3 A.M. (got to get the van back to Songaia) with a record breaking 45 minute camp pack up. We hiked the 1.4 miles back to the van in the dark, head lamps slashing the deep black of the woods. Perhaps due to sleep deprivation, the van ride back was hilarious and full of light hearted joking. Still laughing, we enjoyed a delicious base camp breakfast and the powerful welcoming back of Journeys community.

Looking forward to a summer on the trail,
Stephanie, Melissa, Leah, Mallory, Nevada, Darcy, and Jason

Friday, January 22, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up is hard to do.

Adolescence can be a rocky adventure (sometimes even a mis-adventure) not confined just to our teen years. Many of us, myself included – an upper 20-something, are still trying to figure out exactly what adulthood looks like. A life stage that is obtainable but ever elusive. When I look to the media and even societal expectations I am filled with ideas of adulthood being responsibilities that I must fulfill one by one, as if on a checklist to growing up.

Graduate and go to College…

Become a Strongly Independent Person…

Land a Certain Job…

Own a Home…

Fall in Love and Raise a Family…

And the whole time… Be responsible. Whew!

Paradoxically this is the confused list that is given to us by our youth participants at Journeys – just throw in a couple more relevant teen year passages like “Get my Driver’s License,” “Purchase Alcohol,” "Vote in a Presidential Election," and “Have a Sexual Relationship” and you have the whole list.

Granted, seemingly, these items DO provide us with some level of adult-like accountability – at least externally or to the world around us. But something seems to be missing from the list.

So the question emerges, What does it really mean to come into adulthood?

My hope, and a consistent motivation at Journeys, is that true adults are those who know their unique purpose or intent in this time and in this place. An adult knows of their contribution and is on the road to offering their true self to the world. But boy is that confusing! And who will help us figure it out!?

Purpose, alone, is a big discovery task and something that we begin asking ourselves fairly early. This is sometimes masked by the common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At Journeys, we ask our youth participants, “Where are you going?” and “How are you going to get there?” sometimes followed up by, “Who are you going to take with you?” For a 12-year-old these are big questions but inevitably the youth has answers. The answers sometimes change over time, as we get closer and closer to knowing who we really are, but asking the question itself is a step along the path.

So here I am today, opening up a new blog page to capture these questions and the experiences that our friends, staff and participants have to offer in hopes that someday we’ll have it all figured out. If nothing else, this is a place for us to share our process of coming of age, no matter what stage we’re at.

This is an experiment in creating and building our community. And I’ll probably need a lot of help along the way. If, at any time, you are sparked by a thought or a memory please do share it with me (or “us” as we begin to gather here). I look forward to hearing from the Journeys’ community and I extend this village to anyone who is reading this post. Each of us has a part of the story to share and I feel honored to be in charge of capturing the pieces.

All the best on your Journey,

Emily Pease