Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 832 Issue Date: 11 Nov, 2018

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Brendan, Reijer, Gavin and President Laurie

Rites Together

Dr Gavin Marsh and Reijer Groenveld attended our meeting on 24 October to talk about Rites Together and the work the organisation is doing with our male youth.

in an informal discussion, Gavin and Reijer explained that Rites Together is a Perth, West Australian based not-for-profit organisation which has grown out of a community of women and men who have provided Rites of Passage camps in WA for the past 15 years. Most of their members were initially involved as Parents. They realised the importance and benefits of marking the transition in adolescence with a positive Rite of Passage experience as a stepping stone into healthy adulthood.

From the Rites Together website......

"A Rite of Passage will be one of the last, yet one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your child." Dr Arne Rubinstein

Rites Together has no particular religious leaning or affiliations. We aim to facilitate a conscious, organised process within the community to recognise and acknowledge our young adolescent people moving into adulthood with a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities that come with that transition.

The Rites Together camps aim to create a deeply meaningful experience, an opportunity to grow and expand, a call to become authentic and who we truly are.

Rites Together currently offers Father and Son camps only and aims in future to develop mother and daughter camps in WA. We recognise that "Fathers" can include male participants that are mentors, stepfathers, older brothers or other significant males in the boy's life. We also recognise that family can include same sex marriage or relationships.

“Young people everywhere have a need for rituals marking their passage to adulthood. If society does not provide them (with one) they will inevitably invent their own." Joseph Campbell (Pinnock, D. 1997. Gangs, rituals & rites of passage. African Sun Press, Cape Town.)

Rites Together programs are an investment in preventative health and healthy communities. Given that much of the health dollar is spent on dealing with the long term effects of addictive behaviours such as cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, it is reasonable to say that anything that decreases their use will improve the overall health of the community. An inspired man or woman with a mission in life that is rewarding, a healthy relationship, family and a strong sense of belonging is much less likely to engage in self destructive behaviours. This man will have an interest in his long term health and an awareness that his future impacts upon those around him. Rites of Passage at appropriate times in his life will strengthen his connection between himself and his community.

Members listening in

Modern Rites of Passage programs for young people developed in the past 20 years in Australia and around the world through organisations such as Rites Together WA are designed to:

  • Create a sense of community
  • Give public acknowledgement of the boy by his father and/or other men
  • Allow boys to hear the stories of older men
  • Model respect as a primary learning tool
  • Challenge the boy to determine his own future, to be a positive, responsible member of his community and to live his life to its fullest potential
  • Set up an ongoing supportive environment
  • Create a community celebration upon their return as a young man

As a grandmother of two boys who are nearing the age at which the camps are offered (ideally 13-16), I can see the value of such a ritual. The camps give the boys a line in the sand where they move from boyhood to manhood. They are in a new environment with new people and new leaders and in discussions between group members, there is a strong element of confidentiality, no interrupting and a showing of respect. The boys are challenged to use their inner resources, their language changes and their qualities are recognised by other members of the group. At the end of the camp, the participants are prepared for reintegration with the community and the women prepare something for a ceremony is held to welcome them back.

If you'd like to know more view Rites Together.


Author: Judy Dinnison

Published: 27 October, 2017


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