I love how whenever you arrive, no matter how your day was, you can’t help but feel happy.

– Growing Oaks Participant

Coming of Age

For Ages 11-14

Gaia Passages Coming of Age programs recognize the importance of supporting youth during this time of transformation, growth and change to continue connecting, playing and creating out in nature as part of this journey.  In this two year program, youth will be invited to join in a variety of activities and experiences that will  support them  to walk into their teenage years with safety, inner confidence, self-awareness, and the ability to be in service.

Building Relationships

Fire Making and Tending


Earth offers the ability to feel safe and grounded. When we feel safe, all else is possible. Activities related to this element include herbal medicine, tracking, plant and animal allies, and making pottery cured in the open fire.


Air gives us the tools to communicate and be connected to others. Air element activities include group-bonding activities such as improvisational theatre, sharing circles, and communication tools. Roots air challenge is a group solo on our winter camping trip and Fruits air challenge is a personal daytime solo.


Water teaches us about self care and the physical and emotional changes that are happening during puberty. During water activities we learn about how to take care of our unique physical and emotional bodies. Water’s challenge involves an immersion in a body of water.


Fire teaches us how to care for others and for the world around us in a beautiful and responsible way. We learn how to build and tend fires and begin the journey of creating fire by friction. Our fire challenge happens on our Spring camping trip. The Roots tend a collective fire for a few hours after sunset, the Fruits’ prepare for an overnight solo fire-tending and the Seeds self-design a group 24 hour solo that completes with an honoring ceremony.


At the end each year participants enter into a challenge that helps them to learn about themselves, become resilient in the natural world, and build confidence. At the completion of the third year, youth are held through an honoring ceremony held by the guides and elders. Parents and caregivers are invited to join to celebrate and honor the transition of your fabulous child into their next phase of life!

Why is a Rite of Passage Essential for Youth?

It has never been simple or easy for youth to stay connected to themselves as they enter their teenage years. For our ancestors, in cultures all over the world, the passage from childhood into adolescence was known as an exciting and challenging time that necessitated full village support. Youth were given challenges and honored in a culturally appropriate way before being recognized as a productive member of the village.

In our modern society, most families are living independent lives without the support of a cohesive community.  There are strong influences from the media, peers, and consumer culture which all point to the notion that youth are not “enough” simply as they are. This often causes them to contort themselves in order to be accepted in a culture that asks them to comply with a narrow image of perfection.

Our Elemental Rite of Passage Journey is an opportunity for you and your youth to be held in an intergenerational web of life-affirming culture that honors the inner and outer elements that make up all life. As youth sit around fires, craft with their hands, bond with other youth and adults, and spend time with their feet on the earth – all within a safe and supportive community – they are given space and permission to be and become who they truly are.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

– Anais Nin