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Established 2004

Rites of Passage

Some say that the story of your life – up until the moment you decide to participate in a meaningful rite of passage experience – is the story of the masks you have worn to survive. At Pacific Quest, adolescents have a unique opportunity to push the “pause button” and examine the masks they have worn, exploring which have worked and which may no longer serve them.

Learning to adjust and thrive in new situations is part of life. As infants, we cry and we get food or comfort; as toddlers, we cry to get out of something we don’t want to do; as adolescents, we lie to go along with the crowd so that we’ll have more friends. Each of these behaviors serve us in a specific way. Yet, no matter how effective these behaviors may have been, at some point we find that the masks we’ve worn no longer fit, and no matter what we do we can’t make them fit again.

There is nothing easy about transition. Times of transition are often filled with confusion, challenge, sacrifice and a sense of loss. In every culture since humans first inhabited the earth, Rites of Passage (the intentional marking of transition from one phase of life to another) have been a core component of community life. Rites of passage serve as a road map on the path to change. Yet somehow in our modern, complex world, too often Rites of Passage have lost their central place in helping people to navigate life’s transitions.

Nowhere are the consequences of this loss more apparent than in the struggles of adolescence. When young people attempt to initiate themselves, they often do so in ways that are risky or destructive. Lacking guides and healthy mentors, the path to adulthood can be elusive for months, years, sometimes even decades. We’ve all read stories about of young people who just can’t seem to grow up. Perhaps your family is living this story at this very moment.

Rites of Passage are woven into the curriculum throughout each student’s experience, culminating in a threshold experience called “Huli Ka’e” (Search the Edge). Individualized to each person, the experience is designed collaboratively between the student and Pacific Quest.

The experiences follow a consistent template found in Rites of Passage from around the world:
  • Severance – letting go of the old that no longer serves
  • Threshold – engaging in a period of reflection, new learning, and new experiences
  • Incorporation – bringing back what one has learned into their life moving forward.

Rites of Passage can often “jump start” change that otherwise, might be years in the making. For each young person at Pacific Quest, Rites of Passage provides an understanding of how to navigate transitions in his or her life and well into the future. More importantly, Rites of Passage can help young people see their gifts more clearly and how these gifts can contribute to strengthening their families and communities. Because at their core, Rites of Passage have always been about the community, not just the individual.