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You are here: Home Wilderness Programs Ages 12 - 15 Mountain Quest: Coming of Age for Young Men (2 Week)

Mountain Quest: Coming of Age for Young Men (2-Week)

This two-week version of our classic trip challenges boys to step into young manhood with confidence, consciousness and integrity.

Mountain Quest: Coming of Age for Young Men (2-Week)

Lunch Break in Seven Lakes Basin, Olympic National Park

When Jun 30, 2019 09:00 AM to
Jul 13, 2019 05:00 PM
Where Olympic National Park; Program starts and ends in Bothell, Wa
Cost: $1975; Deposit $400. Some Financial Aid may be available.
Ages: 12 - 15
Taught by: Ryen Helzer, Jakob Ledbetter
Contact Name Cameron Withey
Contact Email
Contact Phone (425) 485.7396
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Parents please plan to attend the first and last days of the trip.

This two-week version of our classic trip challenges boys to step into young manhood with confidence, consciousness, and integrity. 


"Our son entered 7th grade quite changed. He was more self-confident with a quiet, inner strength. He showed more leadership by sharing what he had done in class. I think his Journey had immediate impact on him in these ways and will have long-lasting impact as a strong memory and a strong growth experience. He learned to trust himself in new ways." Program Parent. 

For thousands of years, cultures around the world have relied on the wisdom of intentional rites of passage to awaken the mature masculine spirit within young boys. By overcoming various ordeals, initiates bring back the inner resources and external skills that the community depends on for its continued vitality.

In the spirit of these ancient traditions, the Mountain Quest offers youth an opportunity to live, learn, and laugh in a supportive community of male mentors and peers. Far away from video games, mass media, and pressures of modern society, life slows down and begins to take on new meaning. 

As participants sleep under star-filled skies, hike among ancient cedars and dip in cold mountain streams, the rich inner life of a boy awakens. At journey's end, each will bring home the exciting and important story of his own adventure, a greater sense of self-awareness, and new gifts to share with his family and his community. 

This program runs in two sessions. If you would like more information about the second session, our classic three-week trip, July 21 - August 10, please click here

Family Participation

The initiate's family plays an important role in the Coming of Age Journey. At the conclusion of each 2-week adventure, parents, and guardians take part in a program of incorporation. During this day-long event, parents and young people alike will have the opportunity to see one another with new eyes. Together in this way, they breathe new life into existing relationships and explore the possibilities of what it means to be a family in the 21st century, with a new family member who is no longer a boy, but a young man. 

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Example Itinerary

Week 2: Participants prepare for their 24-hour solo vigils. During this time participants will be involved in nature explorations, expressive art projects, journalling and ceremony. After the 24-hour solo vigil is completed participants will hike back to the vehicles and return to base camp for a sweat lodge ceremony, Council of Elders, and a celebration of their step into young manhood. The final day of the trip will be spent with participants and families creating a family covenant to reflect the privileges and responsibilities of the young man. 

Financial Aid may be available. Please visit our Scholarships page for more information.

2018 Staff



         Ryen H       
      Jakob L bio pic

Ryen Helzer

    Jakob Ledbetter

Ryen, the youngest of four boys, was born and raised in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. He parted from his suburban upbringing to start a rewilding journey as a forest firefighter in Northern Arizona serving as an EMT and Crew member. The dirt paths led Ryen to Southeast Alaska to build and maintain hiking trails and learn the rhythms of Nature. Ryen would return to the Sonoran desert winds to attend Reevis Mountain School of Self-reliance in the Superstition Wilderness, where he learned western herbalism, oriental acupressure, primitive and desert survival skills. He went back to his home city to complete coursework at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts to become a Life Coach.  These skills would be applied to his work on the Big Island of Hawaii at Pacific Quest Horticultural Therapy program where Ryen was a lead guide and participated in guiding adolescents through their Rites of Passage. He engaged in his own Rites of Passage Vision Fast on the Big Island, where he now resides, working the volcanic land, practicing permaculture and preparing for Marriage. Ryen moves forward with the Intention to be a transitional guide who embodies the Phoenix from where he was born.


Born and raised in Georgia, Jakob Ledbetter grew up exploring the beautiful blue ridge mountains of Southern Appalachia. Heeding the call of the Earth, Jakob embarked upon a MA in Ecopsychology at Naropa University. While completing his masters, Jakob worked as a personal development mentor at a young-adult transition home, in addition to working as a nature-connection mentor at multiple organizations in the southeast. During a vision fast ceremony, Jakob realized his calling to become a wilderness guide. This calling led him to Wilderness Awareness School where he has spent the year playing with primitive fire, geeking out on bird language, and tracking wild creatures through the forest. He is passionate about community leadership, cultural renewal, land stewardship, wildlife tracking, bird language, wild edibles, and earth-based living skills. He believes that rite of passage and initiatory experiences are the most important cultural tools to be to utilized in the modern world towards creating soul-centric communities. On most days, Jakob can be found in the woods staring up at birds in trees, crawling on the ground looking at tracks, or sharing food around a campfire, singing with friends. 

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