Boulder Mentors partners with Men's Leadership Alliance
Every summer Boulder Mentors partners with Men's Leadership Alliance (MLA) to facilitate this coming-of-age program for boys transitioning towards manhood. MLA has been offering this program to our local community for many years, and Boulder Mentors is excited to help bring new dynamics, including long-term mentorship and family support before and after the program. Gabriel Cannon also loves working with MLA director Jason Geoffrion to design and facilitate this program. Check out the link to go directly to the MLA website to see videos, read about the program, and register. If you would like to reach out specifically to Gabriel to learn more about the program, call or contact him via the Contact page on this site.
Adolescence – making the transition from childhood to adulthood – is confusing and difficult, and keeping the adult heart and soul alive and well is a life-long practice. Our ancestors recognized it as one of the most critical times in a person’s life and as a crucial step for the entire community, and they marked the coming of age time with rites of passage. These experiences always used wild nature as the crucible and essential support for the transitions of adolescence. The wilderness affords an ideal opportunity for adolescent boys to learn, grow and take the first initiated steps into life as a young man.
The purpose of this trip is to support young men in the journey of adolescence, and to help them prepare for their passage into adulthood. This trip will help them take the first steps into manhood by awakening the innate framework – the archetypal imprint we each carry – for how to navigate life transitions.
We offer a five-day, four-night wilderness trip for boys ages 13-16, in a format we have used successfully with youth for over a decade, and in the fashion of a format that has been used across the world for thousands of years. After separating from their mothers, fathers and community we set up a camp together in the mountains outside Estes Park, teach basic wilderness camping and safety skills, practice respect for each other and the land, and hold council discussions around the many issues teens face, all in preparation for their threshold experience, which creates a sense of challenge marking the change to becoming a young man. We will also have fun, play games, learn tracking and other wilderness skills, eat well, and tell fantastic stories around the fire.
Family and Community Involvement
Every boy needs to be initiated, and it is the community’s job to do so. This is a time for the mothers and fathers to let go and step back. This is the time of the uncles and grandfathers to step in and initiate. Part of this ceremony is for the parents as well. There will be different rituals for both parents to cut the ties to their son as boy, and to welcome their son back as a young man. This step is vital for all the members of the family to move forward in strong ways.
Mothers will have time with their sons during the send-off ceremony at 12pm on Wednesday. The mothers will then gather again on Sunday at 12pm to meet with some of our women staff to discuss the challenges, joys and changing roles of being mother’s of their now young men.
Fathers will depart with their sons from the send-off and will ascend with their sons to the wilderness site of initiation. Wednesday evening they will have a ceremony with their sons and return home by 8pm. They then return to base camp on Saturday morning at 9am to have time together with our Elder staff to discuss the challenges, joys and changing roles as fathers or now initiated young men. They then will stay overnight Saturday night and come off the mountain with their sons on Sunday.
The passage ends with a full community gathering. The young men and their fathers, along with the men supporting the passage, will reunite with the mothers and siblings, along with other women, men, children, and elders from the community. Together we will feast and celebrate while we honor and bless the new young men by acknowledging and welcoming them and their gifts as vital and needed parts of the community.
*We know in this modern age many boys do not have a mother or father active in their lives. We will have other men and women in the community to symbolically hold these roles for them during each stage of the weekend.
We will drive and walk to a wilderness campsite on private land surrounded by national forest between Lyons and Estes Park, Colorado. It is beautiful and secluded land offering a profound sense of wildness and homecoming. Details and directions will be sent upon receipt of registration and payment.
Dates and Times
Dates shift every summer so check the MLA website for new dates and registration.
The ceremony will begin at 12pm Wednesday at the turnoff to the land near Estes Park, and will culminate at 6pm on Sunday with a community welcoming and celebration. Parents, families and supporters of the boys will gather to send the boys off on this trip and to welcome back the young men on Sunday afternoon.
The program is led by Jason Geoffrion, Gabriel Cannon, with Elders Tom Daly and Jeffrey Duvall, and other men and women staff.
Cost – $947
A minimum non-refundable deposit of $250 is required to hold your reservation and assure you of a spot in this gathering. Meals are included. Space is limited to 10 participants.
Scholarships are available. We believe it is the right of every boy to have their transition into manhood be marked, ritualized, and witnessed by the community. Please do not let financial constraints hinder you from marking this life-changing initiation.
If you wish to set up a payment plan or inquire about a scholarship, please arrange with Jason in MLA office prior to the event. And we welcome your donations if you have extra finances to help support boys who need financial aid.
*A pre-trip letter and phone or in-person conversation between the boys and one of the guides is part of the preparation, getting to know each other ahead of time so we all can be safe on the land and fully enjoy this experience, and to make sure the boy and his family are ready for this passage.
Upon receipt of your deposit or payment you’ll receive an email confirmation that will include a welcome packet with gear list, directions and other information.