This year we are introducing older children and early teens to the experience of an overnight camp, with 2 regular days of camp & the other 3 days living on the land here (2 nights). Ages 8-14 will be treated to an amazing week inspired by the preparation for Rites of Passage that is done in many countries with healthier cultures around transitions than ours. I’m excited about the research we’re doing on this special age and many of the customs in other lands. I’ve consulted Masai personally and researched other cultures about how they provide for growth of children this age. These 2 inspiring Masai from Kenya told me that they, like many other cultures we’ve studied, have a Rite of Passage for children anywhere between the ages of 8-14. At one point, she said to bring the kids to Africa and they will share the experience their kids get with them. Start saving because I’m starting to dream of Summer 2018 taking a group of families to Kenya!
The kids here at Earth Camp’s new “Phoenix Rising” week will be improving their skills in caring for themselves & others in wild situations (such as learning to make spears or bows & arrows, build shelters & fire by friction) and be entrusted with responsibility. Whether the child is just starting to get bigger responsibilities at home & school, or peer relationships are starting to trump family, or whether they’re experiencing pre-pubescent changes, or in that hard time of early teens, they’re in a time in life of reinvention. “Phoenix Rising”. It’s our hope that this week will bring their core and strength a beautiful new self-perspective, empowering them to grow with gratitude, resiliency, and respect. The week will end culminating in a ceremony at the end of the week. We’ll have a special staff that week of 2 mentors with experience in this arena, Rebecca and Vinnie. (See bios). Buzz & I will be present in some way every day & night plus our director Spinnerets will be there in late afternoons & evenings on the 2 overnights. So don’t worry, we’ll have probably 4 or 5 of us (for 14 kids) around at bedtime for extra attention at that magic hour for kids. We have almost 5 acres of land that borders on open space with a creek, woods, and meadows, so it’s a good site for them to learn camping under the stars, too.
I know if you have an 8 year old you’re thinking “What? Rites of Passage? He’s just a kid!” Of course he/she is & nature is the best place to keep the “kid” in kids. But, don’t blink. I was surprised to find the Masai lump the 8’s in with the 14’s, too. But the reality is that many 9 year olds and most 10 year olds (girls especially) these days start experiencing changes. The important part of preserving childhood is that 1) they have abundant opportunities and support in playing like a child well into their teens, 2) they have opportunities, activities, conversations, & support that meet them right where they’re at for any given moment. Kids are both child & tween, and then child & teen, for many years.
P.S. Careful how you present this to your kids. “Rites of Passage” can be concerning for kids in our culture not accustomed to it. Some may want to avoid the idea, with visions of teary challenges or talking about puberty, etc. that today’s kids might conjure in their heads at the thought of a focus on “Rites of Passage” (no, neither of those are planned). In the end, this week of camp is just a “Big Kids to Early Teens” week, with appropriate challenges and experiences to celebrate where they’re at.