Youth Vision Quest — Teens Become Adults
First off, what is a Vision Quest?
A Vision Quest is undertaken by many cultures around the world as a way to initiate youth into adulthood. It is a well timed event in adolescent development, because it recognizes that teens are inherently seeking out risk and new ways to define and understand themselves. It is also a symbolic way of marking a shift in the responsibility inherent in being an adult versus being a child.
Teens are yearning for challenge and recognition of their gifts.
In our American culture today, many teens lack the opportunity to be initiated into their value and adult identity. Without the adults (that’s us!) providing this opportunity, they provide it for themselves. Most often these self initiatory attempts lack both the insight of direction and life teachings elders can provide. (Think reckless driving, heavy drinking, drug use, jumping of bridges into water and the list goes on.) Here is a link to a video of teens speaking of the value of a Vision Quest in their lives.
Many cultures for centuries have provided rites of passages in different ways, but the one that is most commonly used today in the United States is modeled in part after a Native American Vision Quest. In this quest, a youth who is ready to take his/her place as an adult in the community sets out into the wilderness alone with the intention of discovering what gifts can be offered and brought home in service to their people. This has of course been modified in some ways to suit the needs and the context of our modern culture while being sensitive to the cultures that have brought this tradition forward.
Vision Quests for youth today include peers from many cultural backgrounds.
- These quests are guided by trained professionals in clarifying intentions for the solo journey and preparations in logistics as well as safety.
- Youth spend 1 to 3 days out in a designated spot alone.
- Fasting with only water is an option, or snacks can be brought along.
- The teens then return to the community and spend two more days telling and listening to one another’s stories.
It is a beautifully empowering ritual.
Often teens experience a deepening into respectful relationship with themselves and their connection to their community.
People perceive Vision Quests as being about self sufficiency and living without community, when in fact it is often about how one is connected to and can serve their community. This is of course an ideal experience for a teenager who has a tendency to be very self absorbed. The Vision Quest also can reflect to a teen the qualities that as an individual he/she has that are gifts to others in their community.
I can’t say enough about the importance and power that any form of a rite of passage ritual has on the human psyche.
It pulls on a deeply rooted knowing in the human soul, that when felt is a homecoming which can offer a sense of deep relief and faith in the world and oneself. So often we miss the opportunity to not only ask but to deeply feel “Why am I here?” and what is it that i want to do “with this one wild and precious life”. (Mary Oliver) Our teen’s lives are so filled already, with goals and to-do lists, that I think, often part of their struggle is simply a lack of time to ponder and experience the sacred in themselves and the world around them. This is the gift of a Vision Quest.
Vision Quests Happening This Year
California Youth Fast — Inyo Mountains
Contact: Will Scott at www.schooloflostborders.org
The Four Shields of Woman — Sonoma County
Daylong Solos- For Teens to Elders!A great introduction to a longer Vision quest
Contact: Josie Bohling at: www.shade-tree-counseling.com
Wilderness Vision Fast for Women of All Ages — Yollo Bolly Mountains
Teens to Elders Welcome!June 8th-18th, 2011
Contact: Sara Harris at www.earthways.info