Rites of Passage for Teens – Lake District

Rites of Passage for Teens – Lake District

18th – 23rd August 2020, Lake District


12 young people will join 3 experienced guides for an unforgettable 5 night expedition into the Lake District, near Coniston Water. The group will carry in all of their own food, cook over the fire, swim in pristine lakes, hike through stunning mountains and live together in the wild.

Activities will include creating land art, gentle scrambling, nature games, mindfulness training, check-in circles, journaling, telling stories and connection to nature practices. We explore a whole range of topics during the programme, including individual purpose, leadership, compassion, empathy, and sustainable leadership.

An invigorating balance of a real sense of adventure and basic survival skills mixed with personal enquiry will lay a foundation for the young people to prepare well for their ‘nature solo’. Interactive games that support our process will be played to create a sense of playfulness, bonding and pure fun.

At the heart of the programme is the ‘nature solo’ – an opportunity for each participant to camp alone in the wild for 24 hours. Inspired by the traditional Rites of Passage quest that many indigenous cultures have as a ritual to cross over the threshold into young adulthood, each participant will pick a spot in nature, typically 36 feet in diameter, and spend an overnight in solitude, normally without shelter and without food. This emptying out of modern distractions creates a valuable space for reflection and to simple ‘be’. Afterwards the group return to camp to share their stories, and support each other to begin to incorporate their experiences into life after the programme.

Why a Wilderness Programme for Teenagers

There is such a thing called “The Nature Effect” which has been backed up by scientific study. It states that after 3 days together in the wild, the group invariably relaxes and the pace of the usual restless teenage energy slows down. This studied observation notes that it takes only three days of immersion in wilderness to loosen our connection with human culture, and begin to connect with nature. This has been shown to have a significant effect in relaxing the mind and improving mental functioning.

The current education paradigm is outdated and in need of radical reform. An overwhelming body of evidence highlights that the current education system doesn’t go far enough in equipping young people for life in an unknown future society. To thrive in future employment, the research suggests young people most need a suite of social and emotional skills, and strengths of character, that mainstream education doesn’t go far enough in equipping them with. Skills such as creativity, problem solving, collaborative skills, empathy, higher-order cognitive skills. It’s even more important all young people have the opportunity to develop these skills if they are to steward us to a regenerative, equitable culture.

Young people lack adequate support to find meaning and purpose in education. This often results in disengagement at school, challenging behaviour and a lack of clarity, motivation, and drive to act prosocially.

What is missing is adequate education and support around our emotional wellbeing and mental health. All too often, we aren’t supported to develop the emotional resilience and coping strategies to overcome life’s challenges. Hardly a day goes by without a mention of mental ill-health in the media. Spending time in nature with a community of peers is a wonderful antidote to all this.

Who is it For?

15-20 year olds. No previous camping experience necessary. A reasonable amount of fitness is required as we will be hiking with backpacks and carrying in all of the food and gear required for the duration of the trip. Water is available along the way. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to bring, we will help you to prepare.

What Are the Benefits?

After returning from a Wilderness Programme, parents often notice how much they have grown as a result of this journey. They share that they feel more grounded and more centred, somehow more mature.

Wilderness Programmes involve a combination of processes, each with a potentially positive effect on adolescent psychological health and development. These include an element of detoxification from social media, technology, and the negative influence of their peers; replacing these experiences with time in nature has a significant effect on lowering stress. The walking and camping aspects of any wilderness experience has the effect of increasing gross motor activity in a way that is directed and purposeful. Further research shows that wilderness therapy is also effective in reducing a wide range of symptoms, including low mood, interpersonal distress, social and behavioural problems, substance misuse and suicidal ideation.

A meta-analysis of the outcomes of thirty-six privately funded wilderness therapy programmes in the USA representing 2,399 participants, found significant beneficial outcomes in: self-esteem, locus of control, behavioural changes, personal effectiveness, interpersonal skills, and clinical symptoms.

An overview of literature on the effectiveness of 370 different wilderness experience programmes, carried out in 2009 for the Wilderness Foundation (U.K.), showed that these programmes had contributed significantly to successful changes in participants’ health, behaviour, and attitudes. However, the findings also showed that wilderness experiences improved: physical fitness, increased cardiovascular health, reduced fat in body mass, improved sleep patterns, and lowered tension. Along with enhanced physical health, there were also significant improvements in mental health, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-control. These programmes also greatly improved participant’s personal sense of belonging, social skills, and interpersonal relationships, not to mention highlighting the long-term social benefits of reduced need for welfare support and involvement with the health and criminal justice services.

Transport and Logistics

We will meet at Oxenholme train station on Tuesday 18th August 2020. Tuesday 18th – Sunday 23rd August 2020

The optimal way to arrive is via train. From those coming from the south of the UK, there is a direct train from London Euston to Oxenholme (<3hrs).

The programme will finish on Sunday 23rd August 2020 and we will return to Oxenholme train station at 12 noon for onward travel.


£595 per participant
On each programme we offer 4 bursary places that begin at £365. Please email us at [email protected] if you would like to find out more about these.


Due to the nature of this programme, we require each participant to have a call together with a guide to ensure it is the right fit for you. To join the programme please fill out this form and a Visionaries guide will be in touch shortly.

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