Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Rite of Passage? Why is it important?
A rite of passage is a ceremony and marks the transition from one phase of life to another. Although it is often used to describe the tumultuous transition from adolescence to adulthood, it does refer to any of life’s transitions (Births and Beginnings, Initiations, Partnerings, and Endings or Death). There are many passages in our lives if we choose to mark and celebrate them.
Who are your programs for?
Our programs serve a diverse population between the ages of 8 and 80. Each program is carefully designed around the appropriate developmental tasks of a particular age or life stage.
Does Journeys have a religious background?
Journeys is not affiliated with any religious background. However, we do value a deep and meaningful connection or relationship with the Sacred; which can mean something different to each participant.
Is Journeys a wilderness therapy program?
No, Journeys is not a wilderness therapy program, although we would say that experiences with us are inherently healing. Our participants have all chosen on some level to go on a program with us. We are happy to recommend other programs that have a more therapeutic focus if that is what you are looking for.
Does Journeys perform Native American ceremonies?
We describe our ritual practices as nature-based and ecumenical (“worldwide or general in extent, influence or application”). While Native Americans or other native peoples throughout history have performed rituals similar to what we practice, we are carefully offering ours in a modern and all-encompassing way. We are very sensitive to appropriating cultural practices that are not considered ours and strive to offer rituals that are meaningful and accessible to folks from many backgrounds.
Are your programs safe?
Journeys has a long history of safe programs. We take a proactive stance on safety by screening and training our staff thoroughly, participating in extensive Safety Committee Reviews which evaluate our procedures regularly, and by selecting a mentor to participant ratio of 1:3. Our staff are trained and certified at a minimum in First Aid and CPR, but most of our mentors are also certified as Wilderness First Responders (which requires re-certification every third year).
What if I (or my child) have never been backpacking before?
This is not uncommon in our participants. Most programs, especially our youth programs, will consist mostly of new backpackers. Both youth and adult participants will learn and practice new skills for the backcountry, such as: Navigation, Cooking, Sanitation, Safety, Campcraft, etc.
Am I (or my child) in good enough shape for your backpacking programs?
We ask that all of our participants make an effort to prepare, physically, for our backpacking programs. Usually this involves going on walks (make it a family event!) while wearing properly fitted hiking boots and a weighted backpack.
On our youth programs we expect our 8 – 12 year olds to hike one to four miles per day, our 12 – 14 year olds to hike four to eight miles per day, and our 15 – 18 year olds to hike five to ten miles per day while wearing a backpack that could weigh up to one-third of their body weight. Our adult programs spend very little time hiking but still require a small amount of physicality. Ultimately, you and your doctor will be in charge of making a judgment call in response to this question but our staff is available to talk about this on an individual basis with participants, parents or youth.
I (or my child) have a physical, developmental, emotional, and/or medical disability. Can I (or my child) still go on a Journeys program?
We prefer to answer this question on an individual basis. All of our participants go through a screening through our registration process but if this question is relevant to you we ask that you call the office to talk to our Program Director. We do accept adults and youth with various disabilities but it requires an in-depth conversation about safety and appropriateness with the participant (and parent or guardian if the participant is younger than 18) as well as any relevant physician or therapist.
I am worried about the solo fast (for myself or my child). Is this something that anybody can do? Why do you use fasting on your programs?
There can, of course, be challenges to not eating – many of which are emotional. Eating is a conditioned routine of our day-to-day life; it is a social activity, a stress suppressor, and an answer to pains of hunger. Actual pains of hunger, which are not influenced by situation or routine, are often just fleeting.
We have chosen to utilize a fast as a part of our solo as a way to remove participants from their prior bodily and social existence. Without food to create rhythm or motion in our day the hours become timeless and our participants are able to exist free of distractions.
I (or my child) take a prescription medication. Will that be a problem for your program?
Generally speaking medications are not a problem for our program staff. Youth medications will be collected on the first day of the program by our mentor staff and distributed daily at a designated time (youth participants are very rarely allowed to self-medicate on our programs) throughout the program duration. Adults are asked to carry and take care of their own medication needs.
All participants who will take part in a solo fast, from 24 hours to 72, will be asked to consult with their doctor about the safety of their medications during a fast. Participants who choose not to take medication during the duration of the entire program will also be asked to consult with their doctors.
How do you handle food, environmental or other allergies?
Appropriate precaution can be taken for most allergies (however, we are unable at this time to deal with severe peanut allergies). If your allergy is common and not life threatening you will find the appropriate place to describe your condition on our Health Forms in the registration packet; this may be followed up by a call from a program mentor about specifics if necessary. If you allergy is of a more serious nature you should have a conversation with our Program Director about specific risks and needs before you continue with the registration process.
I (or my child) cannot afford your programs but feel it is important to participate. Will Journeys help me pay for the program?
We believe that our experiences are essential to our communities and hence no participant should be turned down due to a lack of funds. Every year Journeys awards Scholarship Dollars to participants who would not otherwise be able to join us for an experience. Apply for Financial Aid >
I cannot afford to buy all the gear you recommend! Can I (or my child) still come on your program?
Journeys’ owns a small amount of “Borrow” gear available for youth participants. Some larger items, such as a backpack or sleeping bag, tend to be borrowed out very quickly. While our gear bank is small, we are willing to work with you to make sure that you or your child has the best gear possible. Please let us know as soon as possible if you or your child needs an item. (If we only have one week's notice before your program starts, we may not be able to help you!)
Also, if you own extra items that no longer fit your child please consider donating them to our Gear Bank for future participants. Every year we lose a few items to the adventure so we always need to replenish our supply. Bring you extra “donate-able” items to your program start.
How can I inspire my child to go on a program?
It is not uncommon for a parent/guardian to see and understand the inherent need for our young people to be initiated into a healthy and meaningful adult life but sometime it is hard for the young to capture this point.
The best advice we can give you is to talk to your child. Tell them what the program means to you and tell them about your own rite of passage (which may have been mundane and unsupported by your community or an event that was truly unique to your personality and life-experience).
My child has never been away from home for this long. What happens if s/he gets homesick?
Homesickness happens, even for our Adult participants (and staff!). Our staff is trained to respond in the best way possible to respond to a child who is experiencing these feelings – either through one-on-one mentorship or community campfire talks, whichever makes the most sense for a particular youth. Most participants will experience this feeling for a day or two but will soon forget as activities and laughter take higher presence.
Can my child come with a friend?
Of course! Please DO invite your friends; we even offer a small discount for friends and family dual registration (ask us more about this). The reason we offer a discount and whole-heartedly answer ‘yes!’ is that reintegrating after an experience such as ours can be hard and often will only be marginally understood by a community that has no similar experience with which to relate. Having a companion will ease the process of returning as well as provide a wonderful opportunity for shared story and accountability.
Your programs seem so expensive - Where does all the money go?
Backcountry wilderness experiences are surprisingly expensive. For example, more than 5% of our total annual budget goes to pay just for insurance! We stretch our earned dollars as far as we can; but the fact is that the money that comes in from our programs is actually less than the cost of running the programs.
What is your cancellation policy?
WILDERNESS & INTENSIVE PROGRAMS
Thank you for considering one of our unique, life-affirming wilderness and intensive programs! Here are the details of our cancellation policy for wilderness & intensive programs.
COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS & EVENTS
Thank you for considering one of our unique, life-affirming community workshops and events! Here are the details of our cancellation policy for community workshops & events.