I am piloting a new project this year at Not Back to School Camp called “On Becoming a Man.” I thought it would be a salient topic for many of the 13-18 year old males at camp. This is how I described it for campers looking for a project at camp:

“This project is for campers who are interested in becoming a man. It will include exploring the issues of what it means to be a man, the difference between manhood and boyhood, and the freedoms and responsibilities of manhood. Each participant will be supported in coming to a personal definition of manhood and, if they so decide, design a ritual entry into manhood.”

I’ve been thinking about the meaning of manhood a lot for many years, so I feel prepared for that part of the project. I am least prepared for the part where we design a coming of age ritual for each camper who chooses to have one. I’m doing some reading on it (Imber-Black and Roberts Rituals For Our Times) but not having had a coming of age ritual myself, I have next to no concrete examples. The gom jabbar ritual from Dune springs to mind, but I don’t have a poison needle or a pain box. (Plus I don’t think the NBTSC consent forms cover the possibility of death by poison needle!)

Did you have or have you witnessed a great coming of age ritual? Why was it great? Any horror stories? Thanks!

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