IT ALL BEGAN WITH A CONVERSATION
In the late Fall of 2014, I met a guy through the ManKind Project (MKP) who had been a wilderness guide for six years. “I’ve been leading wilderness rites of passage for adults” Rob said. “I’m thinking that what is next for me is to lead these as an initiation for youth when they are ready for it the first time”. That spoke to me. I had experience organizing rites of passage events through Boys to Men, NW ten years ago.
Over several meetings at a local tea house, we started an inquiry. Can we create rites of passage, sustainably, for the youth in our area? I looked at him, pointed and said, “You can’t do this.” I pointed to myself, “I can’t do this. But a community can!” We began dreaming together of a possibility that every young person in our community would have a rite of passage and authentically know themselves. Shivers ran down my spine. I thought of the Elders. I was moved by the possibility of the Elders seeing and blessing our youth.
Soon after the New Year, we reached out to our friends who were familiar with rites of passage, and to their friends. We created a community forum to ask the questions “Can we, together, create rites of passage for our youth? Is now the time?” Twenty eight people attended the event and said, “yes”. Although there were concerns in the room, the consensus was clear. Now was the time and WE were the ones!
We set a date of July 25th for our 1st young men’s initiation, based on Rob’s program design! It would be a nine day community supported, wilderness rite of passage with a significant mentorship component. We then began taking actions to organize and promote it.
In May, 2015, we called a second community meeting and invited young people and their families to learn about our July rite of passage. About 40 people attended, including a number of young people. We shared the progress we’d made. Two young men said that they would register. We were thrilled to have our first commitments.
Finally, two months later the day arrived. In a beautiful riverside ceremony, five courageous and trepidatious initiates said goodbye to their parents as boys. Over the next nine days, supported by their mentors and guide, they faced a series of challenges, including a two day solo with water only. It was a transformational adventure that resulted in them clearly leaving boyhood behind and returning to their families and community as young men. The experience was life changing for everyone involved.
At a welcoming ceremony two weeks after their return, we hosted 62 local community members. Three of our five young men shared what they had created on their journey. Their stories touched, moved and inspired everyone in the room. There were more than a few tears visible as the young men spoke. A group of Elders blessed them afterward, and gave them gifts for their future. The other two young men shared their stories with 25 people in their home community in Washington State.
Since the August welcoming, and two other programs for adults over the summer, our community has expanded. A retreat was held, October 16th & 17th to vision what was next. On December 16th, we held a Season of Light Gathering to celebrate our accomplishments with our quickly growing community. We were joined by film maker Frederick Marx (Warrior Films) and showed his inspiring short film ‘Rites of Passage’ https://vimeo.com/121863921 . We received financial gifts and commitments of more than $1,500 along with pledges of support and blessings for what is being created.
In January, we launched Cascadia Quest, a new non-profit, to expand our dream. Cascadia Quest will offer ceremonial rites of passage and other nature based transformational experiences to youth, adults and elders. Our vision is to grow a sustainable multigenerational community of wilderness initiated people who know their life purposes and are empowered to live them. In doing so, we unleash genius, embrace each person’s unique gifts and renew our community.
The ManKind Project (MKP) http://mkpusa.org/ is an international organization that produces a men’s initiation weekend called the New Warrior Training Adventure. Through initiation and participation in ongoing men’s groups, men wake up, grow up and show up loving, powerful and ready to pick up their shared responsibility for the future of human kind.
The ManKind Project is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse Cascadia Quest, it’s programs or it’s personnel.
Raymond Albano is a community leader, mentor and financial consultant. His mission is to create a world where it is safe to unleash our genius! He is just completing a quarter as Team 1 Leader in Landmark Worldwide’s Team Management & Leadership Program. When he’s not out changing the world, you can find him in the kitchen cooking up something new! He is an active member of MKP.