Specializing in the design and delivery of transformative, experiential education.

Rites of Passage

David has designed and led contemporary rites of passage programs for youth and young adults since 2000, in Canada, the USA, Spain, Costa Rica, Australia and New Zealand. He also delivers workshops on understanding rites of passage to educators, parents, youth workers, health care and justice system professionals and other interested parties (see below).  He has an experiential knowledge of multiple and diverse models of rites of  passage practice, philosophy and evaluation.  These experiences include working with international youth from six continents, working with youth and young adults 14-25 years old, multilingual environments, wilderness and retreat centre settings, and program lengths ranging from 8 to 40 days.  Some programs have been mixed gender and some male only, and several have included parent participation. Working in diverse environments and nations, David understands the vital roles of both culture and nature in crafting and enacting rites of passage processes.  In his M.Ed. in social ecology he researched the experiences of participants of contemporary rites of passage programs.  This journey of learning and practice has led to the creation of a new program, with the 2012 launch of Your Voice, Your Gifts, Your Power - a 16 day residential rite of passage program for young adults 18-25 years of age, through the Naramata Centre. 

Your Voice, Your Gifts, Your Power

David is the program director of  Your Voice, Your Gifts, Your Power. This rite of passage program is for young adults, 18-25 years of age. David is currently working on building an organizational infrastructure for the program, to house it in Vancouver. For a 4 minute video on the program click here.

David has offered design and leadership to the following programs which enact rites of passage processes:

  • Conflict Transformation and Peace Building: Canada, 2006, 2007.
  • Council of International School of the Americas:Costa Rica, 2007.
  • Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership: Canada, 2005-2012.
  • Pathways to Manhood: Australia, 2011 and New Zealand, 2004, 2006.
  • Power of Hope: Canada and USA, 2000, 2002-2006.
  • Teen Journey: Canada, 2012.
  • Values of the Future: Spain, 2010-2012.
  • Winter Session: Canada - Naramata Centre, BC, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010.
  • Your Voice, Your Gifts, Your Power: Canada, Naramata Centre, 2012.
  • In 2013 David was invited to attend the Youth Rites of Passage Summit II at the Ojai Foundation in Ojai, California.  This 4 day event featured 60 rite of passage practitioners from Australia, Canada, and the USA gathering to share best practices, build a community of practice, and to explore pertinent themes in contemporary youth rites of passage work.


Rites of Passage: A missing link in the building of community

This session explains the hallmarks of rites of passage and initiatory terrain and offers both traditional and contemporary examples.  Historically, intentional rites of passage marking the transition from adolescence to adulthood were an intrinsic part of human cultures. The absence of wide spread rite of passage in modern Western culture is conspicuous. Contemporary examples of rites of passage are also offered. This is a fascinating area of learning which unfailingly reminds participants of their own life stories and pivotal moments. The use of participants' own stories will help to illuminate and understand the human need for rite of passage experiences. Practical skill building will include learning to see rites of passage needs in current youth culture, avoiding emotional triggering by youth's negative behaviors, and concrete examples of ways to implement rite of passage knowledge into typical work and social environments.

Questions we will explore will include...

What price do we pay for this omitted practice of human development?  How are youth initiating themselves in the absence of intentional rites of passage?  Who serves as elders and guides in youth culture?  What are the role of peer groups and gangs? What stories are being told in our culture that act formationally and who is telling them?  What does a contemporary, grounded, skillful, community-based rite of passage look like?  What information and skills do youth need to navigate 21st century adulthood?  What balance needs to be made in rites of passage work between the wisdom of traditional and indigenous practices, and contemporary practices and innovation?  How can we develop our own eldership - what is it, who is an elder, and who defines eldership?  In offering rites of passage to the community, what is the story we are inviting young people into, and is it compelling enough to engage their passions and gifts?

This content is for parents, educators, youth workers, school administrators, health care and justice system professionals, and other interested parties.

Session Length: Half-day, full day and two day workshops are available.
Recommended group size: 30 participants - larger groups also possible.
Format: 50% Experiential, 50% Presentation
Requirements: Space for all participants to sit in a circle, whiteboard and markers.  Access to an outdoor natural environment is ideal.

Rites of Passage has been presented at:

  • BC Alternate Education Conference
  • BC School District # 8, 70
  • BC United Church Youth Ministry Certificate Program
  • Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver
  • Calgary Immigrant Services
  • CAPS Family Services - New Zealand
  • City of Eugene Recreation - Oregon, USA
  • Conflict Resolution Network of Canada
  • EDUCO - BC
  • Manology: Exploring 21st Century Masculinity - Vancouver
  • Methodist Ladies College - Melbourne, Australia
  • Oregon Youth Authority - USA
  • PD Seminars - New Zealand
  • Place Maillardville Community Centre - Coquitlam, BC
  • St. Georges Senior School - Vancouver
  • Tatamagouche Centre - Nova Scotia