When I’m here I feel like there is no pressure to be pretty or anything. This is a community that I can always trust.

– Rite of Passage Participant

Gaia Passages FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Read more about our COVID-19 Health and Safety PROTOCOLS.

You can also watch a video explaining the protocols here

Are all instructors First Aid/CPR certified and background checked?

Yes. There are several organizations through which our guides become First Aid/CPR Certified, and one of them is Bay Area CPR: Safety Training Seminars provides American Heart Association CPR, BLS, ACLS, PALS in the SF Bay Area.  www.bayareacpr.org

 

Where do the groups meet?

Exact locations are TBD depending on permitting and availability. Locations of groups also may change so that students can learn about different ecosystems. The lead guide for the group will send out a schedule that includes locations once the group has a confirmed start date.

  • East Bay groups typically meet in Berkeley and Oakland parks for afterschool gatherings (ex: Live Oak Park, Berkeley, Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland)
  • Marin groups typically meet in the San Rafael / Fairfax area (ex: China Camp, San Rafael, Lake Lagunitas, Ross)
  • Peninsula groups typically meet in Kenwood area (ex:  Sugarloaf Park, Kenwood)

 

What are the schedules / dates for the groups?

Groups typically meet afterschool from 4-6:30pm weekdays and on Saturdays (10am-2pm Wildflowers, 10am-4pm Rite of Passage)

 

Note on built in alternate days: 

Days marked as alternate in the schedules are extra days that we have added in case we need to reschedule. Reasons for rescheduling might include excessively wet weather, smoky air from fires, and/or possible exposure from one of our group to COVID-19. 

 

What is the difference between the after school groups and the custom program option? 

  • Afterschool groups currently have a ratio of 6:1 students per instructor. They meet on scheduled days and times and follow our Gaia Passages curriculum
  • Custom programs can have 6-12 students with any age range. Families interested in starting a custom program can determine the best timing and frequency of the group (during the day, afterschool, weekends etc) and also share about what types of skills and practices they would like their children to learn. You can fill out a custom mentoring form here.

 

I am interested in starting a new group for my child and some friends. What are the steps?

  1. Visit our Custom Mentoring page to learn more about what we can offer. 
  2. Fill out our Custom Mentoring Interest Form
  3. If forming a group, reach out and confirm interest with other families so that when we reach back out to you, we can all easily coordinate communication and planning.  

 

What is expected for parent/caregiver participation in groups?

We ask that each caregiver sign up for at least 1-2 days to be the on call person in the unlikely event of a physical/emotional emergency during one of our gatherings. We ask that on the day that you volunteer you commit to being within 5-10minutes of the site where we are gathered, and have your cell phone with you and the volume turned on at all times.

What is custom programming?

We at Gaia Passages understand that the program times/dates/locations/session durations we typically offer may not fit each caregiver and child’s needs. So in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we decided to create an option for families that allowed for customization of their program experience, in order to expand opportunities for nature connection in our communities. 

Custom Programming also helps grow this grounding work in the world. Thanks for your interest and support for Gaia Passages in your community!

 

How does custom programming work?

Gaia Passages currently accepts two types of custom program requests. The New Core Group and Personalized Mentoring options are outlined below.

  1. Requesting a New Core Group – This option is for families who want their youth to experience one of our core programs, but cannot join one of our public groups due to schedule or site logistics.

Families may propose a new time/location for one of our existing programs: 

  • School-year circle programs – 
    • Rites of Passage (ages 11-13)
    • Wildflowers (ages 7-10)
    • Wild wisdom weekend program (ages 7-10 or ages 11-13 and up)
  • 1 week Day Camp (great for school breaks) – 5-day Wildflowers (ages 7-10) or Herbal Medicine (ages 12 and up)
  • Excursion programs – Camp-out or backpacking trip (ages 12 and up)
  1. Requesting Personalized Mentoring – This option is for a single or multiple families who want to partner in designing their mentoring experience. Choose from our menu below to shape your own program flow. 

With both New Core Group and Personalized Mentoring custom mentoring options, as part of the process of launching a new group, families may choose whether the program will be open for public enrollment or kept closed to their community/ pod.

 

What is the cost for custom programming?

NEW CORE GROUPS PRICING TABLE

(5% deposit on Total Session Cost is required)

Standard groups Options # of sessions Cost/ Participant @ 6 participants Cost/ Participant @ 12 participants
Rites of Passage – school year
  • Thirteen 3 hr sessions
  • Four 6 hr sessions
  • Six Campout days
$3,600 – $4,500  $2,800-3,400
Wildflowers – school year
  • Twenty 2.5 hr sessions
  • Four 4 hr sessions
$2,500 – $3,000 $1,750-$2,250
Wild Wisdom Weekend – school year 
  • Nine 4-6 hr sessions
  • Three day, 2 night campout
$2,500 – $3,300* $1,600-$2,300*
Wildflowers – week long
  • Five 6 hr sessions
$850 – $1000 $600 –  $700
Herbal Medicine – week long
  • Five 6 hr sessions
$850 – $1000 $600 –  $700

 

*More variation in total cost, due to option for 4-6 hour regular session length

PERSONALIZED MENTORING PRICING TABLE

(10% deposit on total session cost required)

Custom Design Session Cost @ 6 participants Price/participant @ 6 participants Session Cost @ 12 participants Price/participant @ 12 participants
2.5 – 3 Hour session $600 $100 $1020 $85
4 Hour session $870 $145 $1,320 $110
6 Hour session $1,110 $185 $1,560 $130
3 day, 2 night Campout (food provided) $5,400 $900 per campout $7,200 $600 per campout

 

What is needed to make a custom program?

Here’s our order of operations to streamline these new emerging programs:

  • Prior to submitting a custom mentoring request, the requesting party(ies) must identify  ONE sponsoring caregiver, if applying on behalf of a group of families
  • Sponsoring Caregiver then:
    • Commits to recruiting at least 6 participants for their program within 6 weeks prior to the start date, or agree to cover the session balance if fewer than 6 participants attend
    • Fills out the Custom Programming Form
    • Pays the non-refundable reservation deposit associated with the type of custom mentoring request
  • Gaia Passages then prepares a customized survey for the sponsoring caregiver to distribute to other interested families
  • Gaia Passages then works with the sponsoring caregiver and other committed families to confirm program details and will distribute a custom registration link 

*If the sponsoring caregiver is applying for a pre-identified group of families/ pod, the group will likely want to discuss and agree on responses to key parts of the form before submission. To reduce the administrative burden on Gaia Passages, we request that only ONE application be submitted per new Custom Programming group. 

 

What if I’m not able to fill my group?

If the sponsoring caregiver (with their community/ pod support) does not recruit at least 6 participants for their program 6 weeks prior to the start date, they can choose to:

  1. Open the program as a public group to try and fill the remaining spots
  2. Pay the balance for the group and keep it closed/ only open by invitation
  3. Cancel the group 

If the custom program is cancelled, the deposit is forfeited as those funds are needed to cover Gaia Passages staff time for coordinating, shaping, and promoting the custom program.  

 

What is the maximum size of a group?

Gaia Passages works with a maximum 6:1 participant to mentor ratio. The maximum group size for our custom programs is currently 12 participants.

 

Your programs sound awesome! Do you only work with youth?

No! Gaia Passages staff includes mentors and elders skilled in facilitating nature connection and rites of passage programming for humans aged 6 and up. 

Want to shape a backpacking passage for your 40th birthday? Do you envision that a camping or backpacking trip will support your family in moving through the grief of losing a loved one? Want to craft a program that invites community participation in your child’s rite of passage (competency, maidenhood/ first moon, moving/ school transition, leaving family home)?

Explanation of Tuition

Our programs are priced through a tier system. Read more about our pricing and tuition tiers here. 

 

Scholarships 

Gaia Passages’ goal is to turn no one away for lack of funds. We do provide scholarships and work-trade positions. These are available based on the dynamic and fluid needs and abilities of Gaia Passages as an organization. You can find more information on our scholarships here (scroll down to the purple box on the right). To access our scholarship and work-trade application form, click here

 

Refund Policy

Read our Refund Policy here.

What is covered in the curriculum for groups? 

Our curriculum covers four Central Social Emotional Learning (SEL) themes as well as Nature Connection themes / skills (outlined below). You can also watch a video explanation of our curriculum elements here

Four Central Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum Themes:

  • Personal Identity and Ancestry
  • Self Awareness, Literacy and Resiliency
  • Puberty, Sex, and Gender – Body, Heart, Mind Changes
  • Society / Cosmology / Social and Environmental Justice

Nature Connection Curriculum Themes / Skills:

  • Firemaking and Carving
  • Tracking and Bird Language
  • Plant Identification and Wild Harvesting
  • Herbal Medicine Making
  • Earth Based Crafts (basketry, beading, weaving, etc.)

 

What is a Rite of Passage experience?

A rite of passage experience is a 3 year journey from 6-8th grade we have developed to support and honor the growth and development of youth from childhood into adolescence. The rite of passage years build and deepen many of the same nature connection and social emotional skills that are covered in the Wildflower (elementary age) groups. Each year we prepare the participants for different group and solo challenges that support them to explore their edge of growth and honor and mark the transitions happening for them personally. The challenges often involve learning how to be in the dark, being able to make and tend a fire without supervision, and using natural navigation as a team to build collective leadership and decision making.

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