While all ReTribe retreats hold to the same principals of earth connection and acceptance, and all include meditation, mindful movement, music, ritual, community building, and deep sharing, at each retreat we predominantly use one of our three different methods of generating the transformational experience: The Adventure Game Retreat (using improvisational theater and role play adventure), Breathwork Retreat (using deep breathing techniques to induce healing states of consciousness), and Nature Immersion Retreat (using steam lodge and wilderness solo).
During an Adventure Game, retreat participants learn improvisational theater and play. Teens are taught to duel with foam swords, and practice "dying well." They are introduced to an imaginary “world,” and are taught to transform themselves into a character within that world. Each teen puts their everyday clothing on a shelf, and exchanges it for a costume, which encourages them to put their old personality (their habitual ways of acting, thinking and feeling) aside, and try on a new one of their own creation. A shy, withdrawn girl may play a domineering, evil witch, while a tough kid may become a kind, heroic prince. Then, at the end of the day, when it's time to put their old clothes back on, they may not wear their old personality in quite the same way. They will have had a glimpse behind their mask, and have seen that their personality isn’t who they truly are; that who they really are is something far more universal, more enduring, than their outward personality. It is at this point that they will have a deep realization that they have the ability to choose who they really want to be in life.
Because they will be acting out their old and new roles in a live action adventure, they will be gaining these insights, not merely intellectually, but in a deep, visceral way. In the adventure, many teens will come face to face with “death,” and be confronted with psychological, emotional, and physical struggles while playing out their roles. Malidoma Some talks about the importance to teens of experiencing a real sense of danger and even the possibility of death: “Let’s remove the [actual] danger…but we shouldn’t remove from their minds the possibility of death” (Some p9). Though we will never trick teens into thinking they are at real risk during the game, they will still be able to experience, through fantasy play, some of the chemical and emotional reactions they so desperately seek when they engage in reckless behavior. This experience serves to "wake the teens up," and to support the development of a strong and healthy ego that is necessary for maturation.
After spending the day "being" a totally new personality, teens come out of the adventure with the understanding that they truly have the freedom to transform themselves, and become whoever and whatever they want to be. They have the opportunity to experience what Shakespeare meant when he said: “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players…and one man in his time plays many parts.” Teens leave knowing that they can now choose to play, not the part they think they must play, but rather the one they want to play in life, a role which will best serve themselves and the world.
During Breathwork retreats, we use a therapeutic modality that uses full and deep breathing as a means of healing and transformation. An energy charge is created in the body, and as the energy disperses, it serves to release, or to cleanse blockages, both physical and emotional. Possible experiences include resolution and release of current problems and unresolved childhood wounds, birth memories, past life remembrances, encounters with archetypes (gods and goddesses etc.), nature identification (i.e. the experience of being a tiger or a mountain), transcendence of time or space, and direct experiences of the primordial vibration in the form of inner light or music, and deep peace.
The process is gentle, safe, and loving, and most people have a deep, moving, and transformational experience. Breathwork is also quite healthy for the body. Breathers are fully conscious and in control throughout their experience. Breathwork has been shown to help with stress and anxiety management, chronic tension, respiratory problems, trauma and PTSD, emotional release, weight and body issues, relationship and birth issues, and self esteem, and frequently can provide a direct spiritual experience.
While all of our retreats help connect teens to the natural world, our nature immersion retreats are specifically focused on this process. Teens spend much of their time in the woods, learning survival skills, and learning nature awareness based meditation techniques. After having been given the necessary tools the teens spend up to 24 hours alone in the woods with only mentors checking in at intervals, followed by a community steam lodge. Both of these activities will help induce a transformational state of consciousness.
The Rite of Passage Process
Our retreats flow with the four basic stages of a rite of passage: separation, preparation, threshold, and re-integration.
Teens leave their homes and come to the retreat center where they are separated from their parents and friends and enter into a new culture.
We use community-building techniques of cooperative play, trust exercises, and music making, to create a space where teens can feel safe to express themselves. We hold deep sharing circles where teens can begin to see and be seen by their peers and mentors, and get in touch with the parts of themselves they would like to transform. In order to change, they need to know where they are and where they want to be. We also prepare the teens with meditation and mindful movement practices that help to center their minds and bodies and give a solid grounding to the deep emotional work we do.
We use a variety of methods to create a threshold experience including - The Adventure Game, Breathwork, trance dance, wilderness solo, and sweat lodge. What these processes all have in common is the ability to bring teens into a sacred space where they can experience new states of consciousness to open them up to deep healing and transformation.
See Threshold Experiences for more info.
Reintegration: Bardic Circle
We always finish our week with a Bardic Circle where teens have the opportunity to be seen by their community and to celebrate the personal transformation they have gone through.This Bardic Circle and final evening is also a party, and through celebration we experience the joy that comes with growing and changing, and see that though the process is hard, the payoff is well worth it.
After the Retreat
ReTribe is committed to continuing to mentor teens after the retreat is over. Each teen is assigned a mentor who stays in contact with them through the process of their reintegration back into their homes and families. We also help teens to stay in touch with their peers from the ReTribe community, who are able to provide an important support network. ReTribe also offers after school programs and organizes gatherings between retreats to help teens stay connected and continue their transformational practices.