Coming-of-Age Program for Boys

A Mentoring Program for Male-Identifying Youth

Welcome to our Rewild Portland’s Coming-of-Age Program for Boys! This is a program for male-identifying and nonbinary youth from ages ten to twelve, designed to subtly facilitate organic learning of outdoor skills, cultivate nature connection, and foster personal and collective growth, all while having fun and building relationships with peers. The program runs from October to June and features two meetings per month: one two-hour evening meeting on a Monday and one six-hour meeting on a Saturday, usually in the same week.

Program activities integrate collaborative play and games with the cultivation of skills that build on each other and come to full fruition in the last meeting of each term. Finally, in a campout after the last meeting in spring, we hold a celebration that integrates the skills, awareness, and relationships that have been fostered with one another throughout the year.


We grow interest and build rapport in our fall term by introducing students to skills we’ll be using for the duration of the program: knife skills, including safety; fire building and tending; and creating shelter. We also introduce games and activities that build sensory awareness and connectivity within the group.


After familiarity has developed within our cohort, we traverse the winter months and begin to develop our group container in a variety of ways. Through practices including tracking, sit-spot, embodied imitation (charades), and mapmaking, we develop sensory acuity and embodied empathy, growing our sense of connection to place. Alongside this engagement with our bodies and the surrounding world, we’ll sit in circle around a fire and tell the stories of what we’ve seen, heard, and felt. Trust grows as we joke, play, and share our experiences with one another. 


As the sun returns in spring, we spend our time leveraging our familiarity with one another to solidify the trust we’ve built over the months. Using a combination of high-energy games and social circling, we invite students to hold space for each other and share about their inner experiences. We also engage in activities that invite students to rhythmically entrain with one another through song and movement as we create ritual objects (rattles and masks) to be used at our final campout.

When We Meet

Our program meets twice monthly: on a Monday evening from 6 to 8 pm, and on a Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, most often in the same week. There may be some variations in time for certain meetings 


-Monday, 10/23, 6pm-8pm: Group introductions and demonstration of friction fire
-Saturday, 10/28, 9am-3pm: Knife safety and skills
-Monday, 11/13, 6pm-8pm: Build kits for making friction fire
-Saturday, 11/18, 9am-3pm: Learn how to build a fire and make a spoon
-Monday, 12/4, 6pm-8pm: Learn how to make fire using friction
-Saturday, 12/16, 11am-5pm: Build a fire from start to finish, cook together over the fire, share song and story, eat the meal we cooked together with a spoon we crafted around the fire we built. (Please note the later start time. This is still a six-hour meeting, and we will share a small meal together.)


-Monday, 1/8, 6pm-8pm: Storytelling about the holidays
-Saturday, 1/13, 9am-3pm: Tracking and charades
-Monday, 2/5, 6pm-8pm: Exploring field guides
-Saturday, 2/10, 9am-3pm: Building fire together, extended sit-spot, storytelling about the experience
-Monday, 3/4, 6pm-8pm:Reflection and conversation on our experience thus far
-Saturday, 3/16, 9am-3pm: Scavenger hunt and mapmaking


-Monday, 4/15, 6pm-8pm: Bat and Moth game and circle led by guest teacher Sheila Henson (ADHD coach, mental health advocate, and Rewild board member)
-Saturday, 4/20, 9am-3pm: Mask making with guest teacher Moni J. Sears
-Monday, 5/6, 6pm-8pm: Finish masks with Moni J. Sears
-Saturday, 5/11, 9am-3pm: Gather materials for rattle crafting and learn songs
-Monday, 6/10, 6pm-8pm: Play a game and practice circling
-Saturday, 6/15, 9am-3pm: Prepare for ritual: grind powder for pigments, last minute mask decorating, plan meal, practice movement and song
-Final campout: TBD
*Note: Some dates or meeting times may change slightly, but we will endeavor to keep to this schedule as much as possible.

Meeting on a regular basis is one of the main points of this program. Rewild Portland summer camps are a fantastic introduction to being in nature; this program takes that kind of camp experience as inspiration and makes it a regular event. This long-term mentoring experience is meant to consistently bring our young people out in the elements, among plants and other-than-human animals, experiencing, attuning to, and playing in wild spaces.

Where We Meet

This program meets at a variety of locations, including the MudHut, a permaculture homestead in St. Johns; Green Anchors, Rewild Portland’s headquarters, also in St. Johns; Kelly Point Park; the Columbia Children’s Arboretum; and other places. We grow our roots in consistent locations throughout the year. This way, we get to experience the transformation of an ecosystem through the seasons, and by stewarding the same green spaces, we can see the positive impacts of tending the wild.


Tuition is $1250 for the year, which can be paid all at once or spread out over 10 auto-payments of $125 per month.

*Cancellation & Refund Policy: No refund within 60 days of programming due to cancellation. This gives us adequate time to fill the open space.

Social Guidelines & Policies

Rewild Portland believes that blanket policies regarding behavior for youth of different ages and backgrounds results in lost learning experiences. Instead we use developmentally appropriate guidelines and processes based on the needs of both the group as a whole and individuals in order to maintain social cohesion and safety. Every potential family should download and read our guidelines before enrolling in the program. Download it here.

Our staff-to-student ratio is around 1:6. If a student is unable to participate with the autonomy we give them at this level of supervision and requires more attention from our staff, we cannot accommodate them with this program. In the past we have welcomed youth who need more supervision to attend with an aide or helper who is hired independently from Rewild Portland.


Born and raised in Portland, Johnny Spathas has always been at home in the Pacific Northwest. From a young age, Johnny has had a close affinity for wild spaces. He is drawn to deepen his understanding and connect with our environment, and share curiosity and exploration with others. Spending lots of time in nature, camping, crafting, and at play, Johnny has developed a passion for weaving together the dynamics of the social landscape, stories, and environment in which we are all inextricably connected. Sharing his experiences and knowledge around creative expression, communication, movement, and reflective process brings great joy to his life. Johnny has been working with Rewild Portland since 2011 in various capacities. He began as an instructor at our Day of Rewilding program and helped establish and run the kitchen at Echoes in Time for four years. He has also been a core instructor at our Homeschool Immersion Program since 2017. Johnny is an intentional learner who seeks out many opportunities to deepen his knowledge and understanding. Some of his favorite connections center around social forestry, tracking, skillsharing, creativity, community, and animals. Johnny is known for his goofy smile, his willingness to play, building with natural materials, and baking chocolate crinkle cookies.

Ben Murphy is relatively new to Rewild Portland. Hailing originally from Southern California, he has lived in Portland for the last ten years. For most of that time, Ben has practiced in the healing arts as a massage therapist and mindfulness facilitator. He received a degree in music composition from Portland State University. During his studies he began an exploration of the role of mythology and storytelling in culture, in particular in the process of initiation. These various interests come together in Ben’s work as a storyteller and mythosomatic guide online at the School of Mythopoetics. Ben looks forward to bringing music, story, mindfulness, rites of passage work, and, of course, play, to Rewild Portland’s Coming-of-Age Boys Program.

Fill out the form below to register for this program for the 2022-2023 year. Email to inquire about scholarships!

Rewild Portland is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to sharing earth-based arts, traditions, and technologies with a wide range of residents in the Portland Metro area. We understand that even though we work hard to keep our program costs as low as possible, our programs still may not be accessible to everyone. This year we are able to offer a limited number of scholarships for the Moon & Stars program.

Please fill out this application to join our waitlist:

Coming-of-Age Boys Program Application & Waitlist