In some Native American cultures, a rite-of-passage event, called a Vision Quest, was used for an adolescent to seek purpose and meaning in his life. An individual was sent out alone, in nature, with only the bare essentials to survive. His time was spent in prayer and meditation, reflecting on his life and the changes he was about to face as an adult in the community. This significantly spiritual event would guide the individual to his purpose and a new sense of self. This new self, an individual with deeper insight and understanding, was then faced with the task of bringing his new knowledge back into the world, for the benefit of the community.
Our eighth grade students spent the weekend of November 1-3 backpacking and camping in Wisconsin’s North Kettle Moraine State Forest as part of our second “Vision Quest” experience at Da Vinci Waldorf School. Movement education teacher, Sarah Westlund, along with parent and outdoor educator, Dave Brooks, chaperoned this trip for our eldest students. On the second night of the trip, after hiking approximately six miles while carrying their personal camping gear and food on their backs, the students built their own camps (separate from everyone else and under the stars). The vision quest provides 8th graders an opportunity, via an outdoor adventure experience, to develop and discover personal skills and inner strength to overcome adversity.
The Vision Quest is intentionally held in Wisconsin in early November to provide students with a challenging setting and season in which to test themselves physically and emotionally. Under the guidance of skilled leaders, the students gather firewood, carry water to camp, and learn outdoor skills. Most importantly, the students learn that they are indeed stronger and more capable than they think. By pushing them just outside their comfort zones, they gain new insights and confidence in their ability to get through difficult situations.
At Da Vinci Waldorf School, we believe this to be an essential and valuable experience that will serve these young adults as they step into adulthood.