Why Rite of Passage Journeys are Great for Student Wellbeing

What are Rite of Passage journeys?

A Rite of Passage marks the celebration and transition of one significant life event to another, such as birth, death, marriage, or the transition from childhood to adulthood. These events are ‘life milestones’ marking personal change and status – but more so than landing a new job, or buying your first house, which have a tangible outcome.

Rite of Passage journeys recognise and celebrate personal and spiritual transformation. In many societies, this transition indicates a change of status or identity within a community, and can be celebrated differently in different cultures.

All around the world, Rite of Passage journeys marking the transition into adulthood usually have the same thing in common: the acknowledgement of a ‘coming of age’ period. When embraced, they have a hugely positive effect on young people and their wellbeing.

Typically, they involve separating the young person from their usual environment, and putting them into a ‘container’ situation, for example, camping in the outback. Here, they will take part in activities such as:

  • Sharing of stories
  • Undertaking a challenge
  • Creating a vision
  • Recognition of gifts

At the end of the journey, the person will return to their community for some kind of celebration or individual honour.

Sadly, Rite of Passage journeys within Western culture are less and less common.

With our fast-paced, technological lifestyle, we have lost the coming-of-age rituals that were once embedded in our culture and as a result, young people today are tasked with navigating their journey into adulthood without this support.

When it comes to student wellbeing though, a Rite of Passage framework is something that schools around Australia can and should utilise, to better prepare young people for the challenges they will face now and as an adult.

Let’s take a look at three reasons why.

1. To foster a sense of connection

As we make the transition from childhood to adulthood, our connections with the self, nature, and community are paramount to developing a greater sense of who we are and the role we play within society. Unfortunately, this isn’t always clear to us when we are moving into adulthood, and sometimes all we need is a little guidance.

Through Rite of Passage journeys, young people learn to discover their personal gifts, character, and strengths; their responsibility to the environment; sustainable living practises and choices; and what it means to build community.

It’s these connections with the self, nature, and the community that help young people lay a smooth foundation for their journey into adulthood.

2. Building valuable life skills

Every young person has the potential to become a wonderful, caring, and brave young adult. Rite of Passage journeys help young people along this pathway by developing resilience, critical thinking, and other
social and emotional skills.

These skills are fundamental to developing social awareness, an understanding of decision making, and learning how the decisions we make can impact the self and those around us.

Building these skills in young people through Rite of Passage journeys also helps them to understand their potential as leaders or their role within their community, deepen their sense of confidence in themselves, and develop communities with more well-rounded members.

A Rite of Passage experience during this transitional life period can help young people embed such valuable life skills into their everyday life.

3. Safe places for personal development

As well as being an exciting and adventurous time, the period between childhood and adulthood can be rife with confusion, uncertainty, and feelings of anxiety.

While we can’t give young people a detailed map of how to live their lives and what their future will look like, through Rite of Passage journeys we can give them a safe space, away from the shackles and busyness of everyday life, to nurture their personal development.

This can help them feel more confident, adaptable, and optimistic about responding to challenges and road bumps head-on, to navigate through unfamiliar territory that comes part and parcel with adulthood.

Our Into Adulthood programs focus on giving young people the opportunity to foster connections, build valuable life skills, and nurture their personal development, through programs that are underpinned by rigorous research and a Rite of Passage framework that’s aligned with the school curriculum.

Get in touch today to learn more about our Into Adulthood expeditions, workshops, and more.

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AdventureWorks and its team would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. AdventureWorks further pledge our commitment to increasing understanding and connection to Aboriginal Australians through the work we do with young Australians and as individuals.


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