At Way of Nature we believe that we can lead better lives by reconnecting to the power of nature. We run retreats and programmes to help people step back from the busyness of everyday life to find whole new perspectives to living life and bring back deeper qualities of purpose and balance. Our experiences range from day-long workshops to long programmes. We are excited to be creating and hosting a new generation of experiences that combine adventure, learning, deep immersions in the wild and wisdom from ancient cultures.
Take a look below at our programmes for 2019. They include short programmes, family camps, men’s’ and women’s expeditions, and two extraordinary programmes related to navigating life and opening up creativity in the 21st century.
The Way of the Body
A Personal and Collective Journey Emerging from an Embodied Perspective – 13th – 18th May 2019
Join us for six days living and exploring together as a community. Bathing in hot springs, savoring distant Corsican sunsets in Tuscany, a place and peoples truly versed in indulging the senses. The perfect location for this programme.
What is embodiment and why does it matter?
Living in a culture that rewards high alert, problem solving states of mind, destinations, getting ahead and getting high, has profound consequences for us, for our relationships and for the planet. We have become profoundly distracted and addicted, and often purposefully numb out just to get through the day.
To be embodied suggests to ‘be at home within ourselves’, to be present and alive to our felt experience, both to the ‘hearts’ and the ‘guts’ of us. This way of being brings us fully alive enabling us to connect with our deeper most authentic voice and navigate from a place of centredness.
Within this way of working there are qualities that express our values such as relationship, connection, relaxed embodiment, authenticity, presence, purpose and balance.
You will come away with an experiential understanding of the following:
– How to regulate and encourage healthy parasympathetic nervous system responses
– Asking and hearing what your body is calling for
– Refining our ability for deep listening
– Skillfully working with our emotional body
Some of the activities will include:
– Play-fighting as an active relaxed awareness practice
– Embodied voice and voice as medicine
– Boundary practices as a path to staying in our integrity
– Befriending and valuing down-time. The value of resting, resourcing and resilience.
At the heart of the programme lies an invitation to the ‘solo’ – a 24 hour solitary immersion into deep nature. A practice inspired by the traditional Vision Quest and practiced for centuries by our ancestors and peoples throughout time. When we are disembodied, we lose contact with our bodies and when we lose contact with our bodies we lose contact with our soulfulness. Some people might choose a vipassana retreat and others plant medicine. The ‘solo immersion’ here offers a different path that also leads to new ways of perceiving and connecting to our soul stories.
Natasha is a wilderness guide, facilitator and mentor dedicated to soulful generative change. Weaving together themes of empowerment and life transitions, reconnection to Nature, mythic journeys and the wisdom of our indigenous cultures, she supports others to find and express their meaning and purpose, and live their most authentic lives.
Natasha’s work is richly informed by the work of Joseph Campbell, mythic contexts and the body. She has trained with the West Country School of Myth, tended to shadow through her time at River of Soul, began her wilderness guide training at Schumacher College and continued with School of Lost Borders, Animas Valley Institute and Annie Bloom.
Natasha has been guiding groups and individuals in arts/mindfulness since 2004 and designing and delivering natured based initiatory experiences since 2013.
Natasha is a member of the Wilderness Guides Council, a Buddhist nun, an accredited mindfulness teacher, has a PGCE and a Masters in Fine Arts and is training this year with Stephen Gilligan in generative therapies. An authentic, playful guide with a courageous open heart she has an affinity with the rocks and whales.
Adrian is a wilderness guide, adventurer and grower of movements. Through his long and deep interest in wellbeing and inquiry, he blends together practices for more balanced living, contemplative tools for self-knowledge and an intimate playful way of experiencing our inner and outer landscapes.
Adrian has been catalyzed by his guide training with John P. Milton and draws on his exposure to hundreds of wellbeing practioners through his wellbeing centre – Evolve in a multitude of healing and thriving modalities. He has been leading Men’s Groups for many years and is passionate about creating safe containers in the groups that he leads to enable a more intimate level of sharing.
What really gets Adrian juiced up is exploring remote rivers, introducing the joys of wild camping to others, ‘up-side-down’ fires and time alone in the wilderness.
May 13th to 18th, 2019.
The programme will take place in a mountainous remote area of Tuscany, Italy. The nearest transport hub is Pisa, from which trains run to the city of Grosseto. Grosseto is where you will be picked up and dropped off.
The price is £695 including guiding, food and local transportation from Grosseto.
Early Bird price is £595 for registrations before 31st January 2019.
*We are able to offer two reduced price bursary places on this retreat. To apply, please email us at email@example.com with a short description of who you are and why you would like to come and be part of the journey.
A course for men hosted over 4 months – June to September 2019
It’s so easy as men to live in our comfort zones. Even within increasingly hectic lifestyles that cram in too much, there is no time to slow down. Men often neglect creating free time in exchange for the “to do list” aspirationally busy lifestyle, when what they are yearning for is some solitude and space for free thinking and reflection. Our work may challenge us intellectually, but how often as men do we take risks, explore our edge, step outside of what we know, and challenge ourselves emotionally and physically?
During this programme we will support each other to explore where our edges lie and ask ourselves what challenges us about being men, and what do we love about being men. Through inquiry, movement-based work and time in solitude in the wilderness, we can return to our daily lives more centred, with a greater capacity to be confident and relaxed, within ourselves, in every situation.
Join us for an extended 4 month programme that will inspire the courage to tell the truth and dig into how we show up as men. Where we will explore cultivating stillness, reawakening a sense of aliveness, delve into purpose and enjoy the support of community.
Spring 2019: A Retreat About Outer Adventure and Inner Safari Our journey begins with a revitalising soak (traditionally done as a purification ritual) in a natural thermal hot spring. We then begin a 5 day hiking retreat in a sacred valley in Tuscany, well known for it’s stillness, stunning landscapes and abundance of wildlife. Each morning we will begin with a mixture of Qi Gong, an awakening wild workout and Wim Hof breathing. Our days will be filled with scrambling, wild swimming, dialogues around defining our purpose and exploring our shadow. The retreat will focus on developing our sense and embodiment of presence, in preparation for a 24 hour ‘solo’ – time alone camping in the wilderness inspired by the Vision Quest tradition. Spending prolonged time in solitude in nature has been practiced by men for more than 10,000 years as a Rite of Passage or Initiation ritual, where men returned to their communities with a defined sense of meaning and of their role within the tribe.
Summer 2019: Growing Together Over the following four months each participant will belong to an inquiry group that will meet regularly online or physically (if distance allows), to explore themes of meaning, communication, polarity, relationship and more. As a group we will circle up once a month between June and September, to take part in a men’s group together via an online platform. This will be a time to check in and share our challenges and things we want to celebrate with each other. Men’s groups offer participants accountability, clarity, challenge, support and a unique environment to really tell the truth about yourself – something which is often lacking in conversations down the pub or with long-term male friends.
Autumn 2019: Harvesting our Insights We will conclude our journeying together by reviewing and sharing insights we have gained, offer each other honest feedback, discuss the themes of purpose in community or career, and support each other to carry these lessons out into the world. Gathering for a final day and night, in a deep woods, we will close by song, story-telling around the camp-fire, feasting, dreaming and sleeping under the stars together.
Please note that both the calls and the Autumn camp-out are optional concerning attendance.
– Nick (2018 participant)
Please note: This journey will be physically challenging. Expect to learn new practices for living in the wild, and to carry all of the food and shelter you will need over the expedition.
Why Men’s Work
Men’s work is about intentionally moving beyond the ‘macho’ culture that has been pervasive in western culture for so long. It’s about exploring our own vulnerability, shadow, shame and brotherhood that extends beyond pub chat or watching sports together (which is often superficial). Men aren’t taught to ‘share’ their inner world, something that women are more inclined to do. In a consumer culture of greed and power, it’s important that men don’t feel alone with their feelings and their pain. At present men are 8 times more likely than women to take their own lives, rates of depression and mental health are all sharply increasing and 1 in 4 men claim they don’t have anyone to turn to in times of need. Men’s work offers safe environments for men to share what’s really going on for them below the surface and an opportunity to be seen and supported by other men, many of whom can relate with their own similar experiences.
Adrian Kowal – Adrian is the co-founder of Way of Nature UK and is regularly mind-blown by the alchemical reaction of combining men’s work with Rites of Passage nature connection practices. He has trained and assisted in facilitating programmes with John P. Milton, and has been leading and taking part in regular men’s groups for 6 years. Adrian has also been running Evolve, a centre for growth and wellbeing in London, for 8 years and has working knowledge of both urban and nature-based wellness practices.
Jim Morgan – Jim has a deep passion for the protection of our wild places and our relationship with the natural world and it’s therapeutic and health benefit for us all. Through rewilding ourselves, reconnecting to the land and lighting the fires of wildness burning within us, we can begin to explore our shadows in order to see our light.
Jim is a transformational coach with Animas, eco facilitator, natural mindfulness guide and currently on a year long immersion into ecotherapy and 10 Directions program with Tariki Trust. Jim works and volunteers with a few nature connection programs in the South Downs National Park working with vulnerable and challenged young people and adults suffering with mental health and depression.
The first retreat is scheduled 5th June – 9th June 2019. The final campout is scheduled 14th September.
The retreat will take place in a sacred valley in Tuscany, Italy. The final camp out will take place in South East England, details announced on registration.
£695 Early Bird discount for registrations before 31st December 2018
*We are able to offer two reduced price bursary places on this retreat. To apply, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a short description of who you are and why you would like to come and be part of the journey.
To book, please complete this registration form, following payment instructions at the end. To find out more about the programme please contact us at email@example.com.
Dart Valley, Devon, UK – 7th to 10th June 2019
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy
In 2019 we are delighted to host our third Way of Nature Women’s programme: a very special experience to support rest, reconnection, and opening up to the power of the wild feminine.
The journey, guided by two highly experienced and deeply caring guides, will take place in the unspoilt beauty of the Dart Valley. There, over five days, the group will explore capacities for reconnection, relaxation, presence and the cultivation of universal energy. At the heart of the process there will be a 24 hour ‘solo’ – a period of time all alone in Nature. This is a rich and often unforgettable exercise practiced by people throughout time. Around the ‘solo’ there will be space to share stories and wisdom around the fire, and to help each other take magic from the experience back home.
This programme will be set around a camp next to the river Dart in the exquisite Dart valley. The journey will weave in and out of Dartmoor, ancient woodland, enchanted moss-covered boulders, lichen-encrusted tree trunks and pools of crystal clear water to swim and delight in. All the while the journey will be supported by the flow of the river as she twists, turns, rushes and drops into serene stillness.
– Arrival and Welcome
– Awareness training (rooted in relaxation, presence and energy practices)
– 24 hours solitude time in wild nature
– Reintegration training
The programme will include conversations, night journeys, poetry, meditations, nature connection activities and a constant flow of exploration through the woods and the deserted moorland. The group will cook together and sleep under the stars.
Din van Helden
Din brings a wealth of experience, facilitating group processes and learning programmes by working in Nature. Her passion is in supporting to connect – both to self (exploring authenticity, personal strengths and values) and to community (through deep listening, constructive conflicts and transformative innovation). Din has trained and worked with John P. Milton, founder of Way of Nature in the US, for a number of years, and she brings a sound experience of working with core Way of Nature principles.
Motivated by a desire to explore and connect with people and wild places, Israh has travelled and hosted programmes all over the world. Her journeys and programmes have included travelling the Silk Road, trekking in New Zealand, the Middle East, Central America and Europe, and the Pacific Crest Trial (from Mexico to Canada). She is a qualified Mountain Leader and trained in Outdoor Environmental Education, and has lead expeditions worldwide. She has particular interests in Rites of Passage work and runs a Nature Based mentorship outdoor programme for teenage girls. As a trained midwife she has worked with remote tribes in the Afar region of Ethiopia and in Zanzibar’s government and bush hospitals.
The price is £575 including guiding and food.
Early Bird price is £495 for registrations before 31st January 2019.
We are offering two bursary spots for this programme, at £295. To apply, please contact Din via firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of why you would like to come and be part of the journey.
Way of Nature Summer Quest and Programme
Lake District, UK – Dates TBA
Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
– Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching
This programme helps you prepare and venture on a personal nature ‘solo’ – a process that many people and cultures have undertaken across time, and a special way of helping to step back and reconnect with what matters in life.
A Nature Quest is a process of going into nature with special intention – of slowing, of being still, observing, reconnecting and recharging. At way of nature we think about this in the context of three ‘natures’… outer nature, inner nature, and the deeper nature of life. By going on a ‘quest’ the idea is to make a deeper quality of space and to find a healthier flow with these natures in a more nourishing way.
As Way of Nature our job is to help people prepare to have a good and supportive journey. This means helping to prepare in every way, from practical to perceptual to spiritual. To do this, we guide a series of practices to help ground and open up the senses to reconnect and rebalance. Interestingly, for us the process is about letting go as much as it is about trying to achieve anything. This balance of presence and relaxation, or yin and yang, is at the heart of everything we do.
The Summer Programme is guided by Andres Roberts, co-founder of Way of Nature UK, together with Way of Nature assistants. The programme begins with two days of activities to help prepare for the ‘solo’. This involves a combination of meditations, T’ai Chi, forest walks, highland hikes, wild swims, lessons drawn from ancient wisdom and lots of time around fires and looking at the stars. This all helps to build towards a 36 hour solo – which we really feel is one of the greatest gifts anyone could give themselves.
In old traditions, when we venture on quests we do so by preparing as a community. When we return from our quests, this same community helps us to make sense of our stories – not just for ourselves as individuals but for the community as a whole. So in our work with Nature Quests we build on this tradition. This process is very much about helping each other prepare to be alone in the wild, and then to ground it back in everyday life with help from each other. Actually, this programme also includes a call, as a group, some months after the programme has finished.
We should say, the tools and techniques we draw on through this work come from a number of traditions including Taoism, Buddhism, Indigenous traditions and Tantra. We bring this knowledge respectfully and with care, combined with a commitment to support good space and good learning, and a real love for nature and for celebrating life.
If you are a looking for a way to make space in life, or to help through a change or a sense of setting new direction, this could be a very helpful process indeed. Do get in touch and we would be happy to call or send more information.
“I would strongly urge you to get involved with Way of Nature. What they are doing is unique and, quite simply, essential.”
This retreat takes place at a secret location in the Lake District.
£645 including all guiding and food. Early Bird discount available at £550 for bookings before 31st January 2019.
Forest Family Camp: A magical long weekend of camping under the stars and celebrating nature together
The Quadrangle Trust, Kent – 26th to 28th July 2019
With increasingly urban lives and less time to spend in nature, we’re creating a space for you and your children to feel the grass between your toes, to revitalise, replenish and rediscover your wild side.
Join us for an enriching weekend of nature connection, delicious vegetarian food, wild swimming, storytelling and music, dance, yoga and campfires hosted and curated by The Quadrangle Trust and Way of Nature.
Together we’ll build a community made up of 25 families that offers a safe space to re-wild ourselves and our children. Workshops will be aimed at children aged 4 – 8, but open to all.
Join the tribe, the camp is just the start….
We bring together forest school leaders, amazing healthy caterers, musicians and holistic well-being therapists to create a shared space where you and your family can be guided to explore connecting with nature and the art of mindful living.
The Quadrangle is a great space for this gathering with a wild-swimming river, a huge brick barn to use for dining, play and workshops, an orchard and permaculture forest garden. A yurt sits by the river and a 1970 Airstream caravan under the trees overlooking the pond is a rainy-day playroom and kid’s library.
The programme will include bushcraft sessions, storytelling, dancing, music, face-painting, fire building, practical workshops for parents around inspiring activities in nature for the whole family, adult and children’s yoga and lots of time for ‘free play’, which might include snoozing in the meadow, wild swimming or woodland walks.
Packing list and pick up times from Shoreham station to come in the Welcome Pack once you have registered.
Who’s it for?
Parents interested in:
– Forest schooling
– Allowing their children to be ‘free-range’ in a safe environment
– Low-impact living
Not for parents wanting to:
– Drop their kids off and party
The aim of the camp isn’t to just have a fun weekend but to provide parents and children with the inspiration, games and tools to support a lot more time spent outdoors as a family.
We see our children spending more time outdoors as crucial to their education and incredibly supportive of a more whole upbringing.
Why is this important? Read more here about the benefits of being in nature and having freedom to play.
In order to keep the modern distractions of technology at bay we will all enjoy a digital detox and request all participants to leave laptops and iPads at home and have their phones switched off or on silent for the duration of the camp.
A Low-Impact Week-end
We’ll be aiming for the weekend to have as low a carbon footprint as possible and our environmental policy includes:
– Vegetarian food
– Food that is locally sourced or home-grown
– Recycling and re-using wherever possible
– Saving water (encouraging people to swim in the river rather than have a bath/shower)
– Organising lift shares and doing pick-ups from the station to discourage driving
The Forest Garden: In 2010 the trustees at the Quadrangle began looking at how the pasture field could be used in a different way, produce food and help to educate people in ecology and low-impact living. The concept of a forest garden using the design principles of permaculture began taking shape. There is now over hundred young trees – apples, pears, plums and autumn olives, and fruit bushes – gooseberries, raspberries, red, black and white currants. Paths take you through the long grasses and around the trees to the camping circles. The river Darent runs gently beside the garden, with steps down to it for swimming and boating.
We will use the Main Barn as our dining space and backup workshop space if we have wet weather.
A Mongolian yurt and a vintage Airstream are on site for play and workshop spaces/dens.
There are 6 toilets and three showers on-site including 2 compost toilets in the Forest Garden camping field.
Arrive between 2 – 3.30pm on Friday
The camp ends between 4-5pm on Sunday
Amy loves dancing, cycling and walking on her hands. Always up for adventure she has been on a boat full of scientists to the Arctic taking photos, crawled around caves searching for rare bats. She an urban farmer with a team of children and experienced camp cook, so will be leading our feasts over the weekend. If you haven’t heard of the Secret Seed Society, here is Amy talking at TEDx about why she set it up!
Max has been part of the camp team since we started 3 years ago. His days are spent with The Outward Bound Trust as an education consultant, designing outdoor learning experiences for young people from across the capital. In his spare time, you’ll find him playing in the snow, climbing on rocks, scaling mountains, cooking, camping or dancing. His passion for the outdoors is infectious!
Zoë spent her early years in the wildness of the rural Andes. The experience of growing up surrounded by a powerful landscape gave her a profound love of wildness and instilled a firm belief in the value of nature immersion to inspire, restore and connect. The sense of wonder that is so vital to a curious and open mind is something that Zoë is most grateful for as a parent and something she endeavours to bring to her work as a performer, movement teacher and osteopath, both in the UK and internationally. Zoë has also been a long term facilitator of community camps at her home on the yorkshire moors and is learning to enjoy the beauty and the chaos that collaborative community brings.
For more about Zoë see her website www.motionislotion.co.uk
– Bring your own tent: £150 per adult/£80 per child (for adults this breaks down as £80 for the weekend ticket that includes all the workshops, talks and events and £70 for all the amazing meals)
– If you’d like a bit more luxury then please register your interest in a family bell tent by emailing email@example.com
– We have a few bursary places available – please get in touch if you would like to find out more.
Price includes local transfers from the station, all sessions and vegetarian meals.
To make an enquiry and to obtain the booking link please email: Adrian Kowal
How do I get there?
Trains run frequently from London Charing Cross to Shoreham. It’s a direct train and only takes about 40 minutes.
If you’re worried about getting the train with all your stuff have a look at our packing list. Last year people said they brought far more than they used. You might be surprised how little you need for a weekend, especially when all your food and activities are catered for. We’re encouraging people to get the train together and we will post out which trains to get a few weeks before the camp. As well as supporting the environmental ethos we’re all working for, the train journey is going to be a super fun way to meet fellow campers (think hogwarts!).
If you normally just fall back on your car here’s a chance to be supported in challenging yourself to take a more environmentally friendly way to get about with your family. You might be surprised how achievable it is and you’ll be doing your bit to make the world a better place for your children’s future- by committing to pollute less, and teaching them that sustainable travel is accessible and fun!
What do I need to bring?
Below is a list of recommended equipment to make your family’s time at our camp as comfortable as possible. Please do bring a few additional bits thatyou know you or your children will need – though it is our invitation to pack as light as possible and enjoy minimal living for a few nights.
If you have a guitar that you play or percussion instrument please do bring it along!
What if it rains?
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing” forest school maxim. If you’re wearing good waterproofs and are warm and dry inside your clothes then you and your kids will find playing in the rain is fine, in fact it’s fun!
Can I charge my phone?
Our site is really small so you won’t need your phone to be in touch with friends at the camp. For that reason we encourage you to turn off your phone while here. As well as so you have your eyes and ears open to all the beautiful things you and your family will be doing.
If you need to make an urgent call to someone outside the camp you can do this from the lane where reception is available. Emergency charging is available at the farm house.
iPads, laptops and other electronics such as amplified music/speakers are not allowed at the camp.
What will we eat?
We’ll be turning seasonal ingredients into a variety of delicious and nutritious dishes for each meal. Everything will be vegetarian. There will be fun roles for us all to play in preparing, serving and tidying away from each meal. Our kitchen leader, Amy, is an expert at exciting children (and grown ups) to create and eat colourful plant based food. You’ll no doubt learn some new recipes, flavours and techniques for making food in the wilds. There’ll be some cooking on fire and with big pots!
What if me or my kids are hungry/thirsty between meals?
Teas, coffee and all sorts of healthy snacks are available to help yourself whenever you need.
Are there toilets?
There are flushing toilets at the farmhouse and lovely compost toilets in the camping field. These have the benefit of recycling human waste, and smell like sawdust.
Can I have a shower?
There are 3 warm showers at the farm house. Mostly people find that it’s much more fun to bathe in the little river that runs past the camping field.
What happens if there’s a medical problem?
We will have first aid qualified staff on site. Please ensure you let us know of any specific medical information before you arrive.
The Journey – A Contemporary Rites of Passage Programme for Young People
The programme is currently offered to partnered schools & on a bespoke basis
‘The Journey’ is creating a movement that reconnects young people to nature, successfully transitioning them into adult life. We offer young people from across the country a journey of self-discovery by helping them to find their purpose in society.
Teenage life is such a pivotal time when young people are presented with a wide variety of options in the road and enter a cultural, social and personal period of tremendous transformation. Social media culture, increasing issues with mental health, body image, eating disorders and an overemphasis on external ways of defining success all contribute to an ungrounded arrival into adult life.
With so little being formally taught in contemporary education about how to cultivate successful relationships, hone emotional intelligence, deal with conflict and build self-resilience, many young people arrive into adulthood unsure of themselves and bereft of a sense of purpose. The work of ‘initiation’ – the
symbolic crossing of a threshold – is about helping young people to make the leap to take full responsibility for their lives and how they impact the world; to become active agents.
The Process and the Benefits
Our school pilots are made up of several half day trips, an overnight adventure, and a three day expedition that culminates in a 12 hour ‘solo’ . The solo is where the participants spend 12 hours alone in nature – before returning to make sense of their experiences and share their journey with their communities.
For the bespoke programmes, we strongly recommend that we spend a minimum of 5 contact days together with the young people, as we have found that this is the ‘minimum effective dose for this kind of work to have an impact. These days can either be split into two separate sessions – ie 2 days first that could be an initial weekend, then 3 days later – say in a half term.
During the programme, participants who have previously felt weighed down by their ‘stuff’ – both material and otherwise, reduce down to simple and vital tools. Together we will look to step beyond our current consumerist thread of society and dream about a brighter future. Together we will ask “How do we navigate what is truly crucial?”
Giving participants the chance to slow down for the duration of the programme without gadgets or ‘normal’ routines encourages enquiry into their passions and values, instilling courage and confidence for both connected and independent thinking and being. Simplifying our connection to self offers tools for decision making in the future that have a significant positive effect on self-worth and one’s own sense of value, translating into healthier choices – especially around job, behaviour and lifestyle.
Spending time in nature requires learning new skills as well as taking responsibility for self care and group wellbeing, thus encouraging and inspiring a new sense of self to emerge. This has the potential to support young adults to break free from unhelpful old stories of self whilst also empowering the forming of new, healthier concepts.
6 things teenagers feel when they have finished the programme:
– Engaged and connected to the natural world
– A more intimate knowledge of their inner landscape
– Enhanced self-worth and belonging, and a move away from the need
for external validation
– A toolkit of practices and processes to use to navigate everyday life
– Greater sense of purpose and aspiration to bring about positive social
– Understanding of the gift of stillness
As opposed to the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s focus on goal completion and external validations of success, our programme offers participants a way to get to understand themselves, learn through the experience of other participants and gain a first-hand experiential sense of their intrinsic relationship to nature. An emphasis is placed on harvesting participants’ insights after their immersive time alone in nature, that can then be integrated and brought back into their communities, in turn empowering them to be leaders of change in society.
Phases of the programme include:
Preparation – Becoming engaged
Separation – Naming the things participants want to leave behind
Crossing the threshold – Stepping into new self
Reintegration – Transferring learnings into everyday life
There is a growing body of scientific research that is deducing the positive effect on mental health, immune levels, stress and anxiety – a powerful antidote to the stresses that preparation for exams produce in young people. Here is a summary from a few scientific studies involving the health benefits of spending time in nature:
• Immunology research shows that forest-related activities, even for short periods, can increase human immune function by facilitating the activity of NK cells (which play a major part in the rejection of tumours and infection) and anticancer proteins
• A recent study has indicated that forest walking can improve self-rated health status and tends to decrease psychological stress in healthy individuals
• Negative moods states and anxiety levels decreased in forest walking compared with urban walking.
• A study showed that hostility and depression scores decreased significantly, and liveliness scores increased significantly after time in a forest.
• Stress levels have been shown to be related to the magnitude of the shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) effect; the higher the stress level, the greater the effect.
If you are interested in co-creating a bespoke Rite of Passage programme for any young people in your life, please get in touch and we can answer any questions you may have about what we do. If you believe that a school you have involvement with may be open to running a programme with us, please get in touch.
Our typical scenario is for developing and delivering the whole programme, working with two lead facilitators and a producer. The programme is split into design, planning & production and delivery.
For the bespoke programmes are seeking an investment of £600 per participant to cover time involved, all food, a small contribution to venue hire, transportation & logistics, gear hire and insurance. Payments are able to be made in installments.
Modern Vision Quest
Carpathian Mountains, Romania, Dates TBA
The deepest, wildest programme we are hosting in 2019. This programme honours powerful ancient practices of going into nature alone, to reconnect, to draw deep insight and wisdom, and to bring a special kind of peace and purpose back to everyday life. This year, Modern Vision Quest will take place in the Carpathian mountains of Romania, where each participant will spend four days alone as part of their quest. The programme involves three days of work preparing for the process, two days after the quest to integrate the experience, and two calls in the months after the journey – helping to keep the essence alive back at home.
Making base high in the Carpathian Mountains, here we strip back from everyday life. To begin, we camp together for three days, in the most extraordinary setting, to prepare for our quests. These days involve working with nature-based practices – tools and techniques from ancient traditions – to support stillness, connection, openness and flow. Over these first days we also share stories to support each quest. We do so in the way that our ancestors did before us – around fires, making time to listen deeply, always with the help of nature. This whole process is entirely off-grid. We camp together in the wild, away from speed, distractions – even electricity and running water.
We then move into the Vision Quest. This involves setting off alone to a place in the mountains, marking a circle and stepping into it for four days and three nights. It is hard to describe the insights and feelings that might come from the process; a chance to be alone with your own true self and wild nature all around you. Slowly, you might find yourself more at ease; more aware; more connected with a deeper truth of things. It is something very special to keep with you through life.
After the quest, we return to our shared camp, to share stories and insights from the experience, and to explore how to take any lessons back to life and work. We also arrange two calls in the months after the programme, to help keep the experience alive.
We think that this kind of immersion is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves. It is a process we host with much care and respect, while doing so with lightness and joy. Here, we also do it in a way more designed for modern times. We don’t believe the world needs more ‘striving’ or ‘pushing’. The emphasis here is on stillness, peace and relaxation – letting nature cast her magic in her own way.
This programme takes place in the Carpathian mountains of Romania. We will arrange transfers from Bucharest. More information provided on registration.
£1250 including all guiding, meals and local transfers from Bucharest. An Early Bird price of £999 is available for bookings before 31st March 2019.
Two bursaries spots are available at £695. To apply, please contact us with a description of why you would like to come and be part of the journey.
To book, please complete this registration form, following payment instructions at the end. For enquiries, please email email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nature Connectors Camp Out
+ Big ‘Solo’ Gathering
Two gatherings for nature connectors – Dates TBA
Over the course of 2018 we are hosting two special gatherings to help connect and support nature connectors. The first, to be held in April in the Lake district, is a big camp out in one of our favourite locations. It will be a chance to regather, replenish, dive deeper into connection practices, ask more questions, share more skills, go back to the wild, talk and sing around fires, and help each other grow nature connection in the world.
The second gathering, in wild Scotland, will be a chance to grow the conversation from April, this time also going on a wild solo and ceremony as a larger community.
These gatherings are aimed for people that have already experienced or worked with us or have very similar interests. The events are by invitation, but we would of course love to connect with more like-minded souls, so do please get in touch if they might be of interest.
April Nature Connectors Camp Out
In April we will gather in the Lake District, at our base in a protected forest, nestled between the waters of Coniston and the vast, open skies of the fells. The plan is to meet on the afternoon of Wednesday 11th April, and to take 5 days and 4 nights to to work and learn and revel in the wild together – all time to deepen our questions and practices with nature connection.
Sessions will include:
– Mini workshops
– Open SpaceCamping & fires & wild meals
– A short ‘solo’
– Games, body practices and wild swimming
– Group circles, peer-mentoring and ceremonies
– Special themes (TBC e.g. Shadow, Relationships etc.)
– Music and singing and rumpus
Scotland – Big Solo Gathering
In October, we will reconvene in Scotland, at a private island off the west coast. Here we will take added time to deepen and grow our conversation, and to prepare for a group ‘solo’ as a community – returning to share stories of wisdom from the wild.
Why are we doing this?
These events are about connecting and celebrating the work we are all doing to reconnect people and nature. They are intended as moments for each of us to rest and replenish while taking time to work on our crafts. Each event will bring together a community of people who have worked with us across Way of Nature UK and Bio-Leadership processes. Coming together in a new way, we hope to make more time to share each other’s stories, dreams and challenges, as practitioners, in more collaborative ways. We believe that by continuously gathering, with nature, to listen, learn, dream and be, we can grow more good things in the world.
Nature and Connection
During this work, we would love to open up to different forms of work and learning while also respecting the traditions and ideas that have informed the Way of Nature over time. For us, this means working with an idea that nature connection is about refining our own inner nature as much as it is about working with nature ‘out there’ in the world. In this way, this work and community might always work across themes related to our own growth as people, in order to help shape a more whole world.
We propose a sliding scale which we leave as optional to participants:
Lake District Gathering Only
Option 1: £225
Option 2: £275
Scotland Gathering Only
Option 1: £275
Option 2: £350
Registration for both gatherings (10% discount):
Price 1: £450
Price 2: £560
Registration is by invitation or application. Please email us for more information if you are interested in coming to an event.
Here are some frequently asked questions.
Q: Do I need to prepare anything for the retreat?
A: Nothing but an open mind, and willingness to experience nature in a new perspective.
Q: What equipment do I need?
A: We recommend the list below for each retreat. Of course please do bare in mind the time of year and the location of the retreat. If there is anything special which is not included in the list below, we will let you know.
– Backpack – max 65 litres
– Water containers – minimum 2 litres + 1 litre
– Sleeping Bag – ideally 3 season for most programmes
– Sleeping Mat/Thermarest
– Tent, bivy bag, or tarpaulin (plastic sheeting to tie to trees or lie on to keep dry)
– Head torch with full batteries
– Basic first aid items (pain killers, plasters, bandages etc.)
– Warm clothing and clothing to change into – two layers of everything
– Waterproof layers (jacket & trousers)
– Extra layers for warmth at night
– Hat for warmth / sun
– Hiking, trekking or sports shoes – and spare shoes in case of rain
– Socks to change
– Swimming costume
– Comfortable clothes for stretching/yoga activities
– Sun cream and shades to protect your eyes
– Mosquito repellant
– Notebook & pen
Q: Do I need to know any bush-craft / survival skills?
A: No – it is not necessary to know how to start a fire with a bit of string and a knife, or make your own survival shelter. On some of our retreats you may be instructed in some basic bush-craft techniques however no previous knowledge or experience is required. Even if you don’t know how to put up your own tent, your friendly guides will be on-hand to help you with that.
Q: Can I bring a phone / camera / journal / book on my solo?
A: We encourage participants to only take a phone with them for emergencies at keep it off for the duration of their alone time. We also recommend to not bring a journal and pen on your solo to enable you to focus on presence and experiencing what is unfolding around you.
Q: Where can I review and download your Terms and Conditions?
A: You can review them here: terms-and-conditions-2017
If you have any other questions, please send us a note via our connect page.
“A truly grounding experience that offers the tools and understanding to develop practice into the future” – Edward, Inverness, Scotland
“Life changing – an opportunity to find space and purpose” – Nicole, London, England
“A practical way of finding deep connection and a meaningful way of living through the application of simple practices and principles drawn from universal wisdom” – Jennifer, Texas, USA
‘On the Edge of a Cliff‘: A beautiful blog by Ed Gillespie, co-founder of sustainability communications agency, Futerra.