Rites of Passage for Teens

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.

info@wayofnature.co.uk     Copyright Way of Nature UK 2015.                         Videos & images by Terry Bond © 2015