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Rites of Passage: Celebrating Life’s Transitions

Having discovered through their global work that the healthiest communities had rites of passage for their youth, ICA members determined that they needed to provide such an experience for their own youth. The initial programs were in 5th City with the understanding of lifelong learning and rituals to demonstrate the change from one life phase to another. Several programs were created for sixth-ninth graders to empowering them to become adults. Trabal societies knew what they wanted when they sent about an initiation. A community piece was created in various societies, like the Bar Mitzvah, initiation of girls and boys in African society to take on adult responsibilities.

5th City Preschool and Elders Graduations


Early on the preschool developed a graduation program with caps and gowns to celebrate the completion of preschool and moving on to elementary school.


5th City preschool and elders graduation PHOTOs

SUMMER SIXTH GRADE TRIPS: A coming of age journey

In several weeks of wilderness adventures and self-discovery, youth experience the symbolic journey from childhood to adulthood.  Youth learn important personal and interpersonal skills through wilderness training sharing circles, a ropes course and a 24-hour solo vigil. This began in The branch of this original enterprise that grew to 1968. Having discovered through their work cross-culturally that the healthiest communities had intact rites of passage for their youth, ICA members determined that they needed to provide such an experience for their own youth. This first initiation program was called The Sixth Grade Trip.

Over the next nineteen years (1968-1987), ICA youth were initiated in a multitude of remote North American locales over the years, including backcountry terrain in Colorado, Montana, Northern Labrador and Boundary Waters and Mexico. In the Eighties, Stan Crow took leadership of the program, bringing to it his experience of the native practice of vision quests; his knowledge of rites of passage cross-culturally; a love of ritual; a background in drama; a love of nature and understanding of the power of nature to both heal and teach; deep commitments to empowering others, bringing meaning and purpose to human life, and building community; and tireless work,

THE STUDENT HOUSE:  7th and 8th grade years


Click here for Student House page

YEAR ABROAD:  9th grade year



In 1987, Stan and Carol Crow brought the program to the Northwest, settling in Bothell, Washington where, with others, he founded Songaia on whose land he established a base camp from which to operate Journeys and began to build a Pacific Northwest-based wilderness rite of passage curriculum to serve youth aged 11-18. By 1990 Stan brought the program to the public under the auspices of the ICA and under the name, ICA Journeys. During the 1990s, Stan built a national reputation for his work with youth rites of passage. These Journey reports give glimpses of the programs during those years:   1996,  1998, 1999, 2000 and 2003.  


Experimented with

  • Tour de Cultures to help youth have a bigger world view and introduce them to cultures.
  • Vision Quest for high school juniors and seniors to look toward the future in collaboration with Yakima reservation
  • Rites for Fathers and Sons and Rites for Mothers and Daughters.




Rite of Passage Journeys became an independent, mission-driven organization in Fall 2006 when it incorporated in Washington State as a non-profit corporation

Here the Journeys story from the beginnings until the present is summarized by Darcy Ottey, who took over as Executive Director in 2007, and her daughter, Edith Kusnic.


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