Learn to Conduct The Rite of Competence: A Rite of Passage for Middle Childhood

Enrolling Now for January-May 2010

The Rite of Competence Program is a 5-month distance-learning training program led by Mark Morey for the parents or caregivers of a boy or girl who is roughly 7 or 8 years old.

In this program you will be mentored to design, prepare for and deliver a Rite of Competence ritual for your child. Your child does not participate in the program directly, but will be the beneficiary of the training you receive.

The exact age of your boy or girl is less important than their “readiness” for this transition. It is the point at which your child is grappling already with having one foot in early childhood and one foot in late childhood.

Why Rites of Passage?

Rites of passage serve as markers of significant moments in our lives. They define the thresholds between one chapter and the next and help us to both see and realize our own progress as we move through life. Many people recognize adolescence as just such a moment that deserves to be honored in some special way, be it through a cultural ceremony like a bar mitzvah, through a personal experience such as a special road trip with mom or dad or by the giving of a special gift “of their very own.”

What is a Rite of Competence?

Adolescence is seen in many cultures as the transition from childhood into adulthood. While still too young to drive or buy alcohol legally, a 13 year old is no longer seen as a child and is expected to conduct themselves as an adult in most respects. As such, the period leading up to 13 years old can be seen as “the path to adulthood.”

A seven year-old stands at the beginning of that path.  This is the first, and arguably the most crucial threshold of his or her life—between Early Childhood’s comfort with the closeness of mama, and Late Childhood’s independence and stepping “into the world” with one’s own identity. This path to adulthood is a crucial time for forging a strong self image, as well as laying the foundation of relationships which will guide a child into adulthood.

The Rite of Competence generates a kind of mental map not only for you but for your child as well.  This helps him to name and make sense of the changes that he is experiencing as he begins to wend his way into the world outside of his immediate family.

It Takes a Village

Something has been missing in our culture for the last 50 years or so. People’s wistful talk of “The Old Days” centers on simplicity, trust, community, interdependence and nature. Many of us, raised in the culture
of 60s, 70s and 80s, value the idea that success for our children looks like independence and self-reliance.

We offer an alternative idea: that success looks more like respectful, whole and connected children. This is not about obedience, but about interdependence. It is about how our children conduct themselves in community of others, by helping and giving back. And, crucially, it is about how our children learn to create community–webs of resilient relationships–where ever they go.

Resilience is the ability to cope with stress. And it is interdependence—the many threads of respect, support and love—that generates resiliency for individuals, families and communities. Family resiliency can be
nurtured and grown. It starts with the sense of self, nourished by a conscious extended family, which is an essential element of the Rite of Competence. The extended family we talk about here is your community of
friends and relatives that interact and mentor your child — it’s the village that helps to raise our children. It is through the mirror of extended family that a child can learn to see herself in a new way. And it is through extended family that we build resilient relationships. This is the village of the modern era.

Acknowledging a Family Transition

With or without a rite of passage to mark it, the transition from early to late childhood is one that involves the whole family.

Acknowledgment creates movement.  As a parent, the last thing we want to do is miss a beat or get in the way of our child’s success in life.  One of the simplest tools that you will gain through this program is how to holistically acknowledge the change that is going on inside your child by orchestrating parallel changes outside your child.  In this way movement into the next stage of maturity will be created for not only your child but for each member of the family in relationship to this new stage.

This new stage looks like “not a baby” anymore, actually contributing value and content to the family unit as a functioning member, for example, washing dishes, prepping food, family strategies for peace. For your
child, it may look like greater autonomy, more responsibility and more freedom.

This transition marks a powerful shift in a child’s relationships with her parents and siblings, as well as other adults in her extended family. Everyone goes through this change together. From the parents view, we begin to see, “this isn’t my baby anymore !”

Benefits to Children
The Rite of Competence is designed to:

Acknowledge and honor what your child has accomplished so far in life.
Equip them with new perspective about what they are going through.
Bolster their foundation of self-respect.
Foster in them a sense of their own development, like a “map” of their life.

Benefits to Parents & Families

Gain a plan for the next 6 months that supports your child’s developmental growth.
Gain new tools with which to observe and change your family dynamic.
Learn to meet your children “where they are” and to be present with your child’s current needs.
“Upgrade” the quality and diversity of your closest family friends–like an extended family that shares your parenting goals, interests and world view. Develop more resiliency, in each family member and in your family as a whole.
Increase your sense of security by “retooling” your family relationships to make them more rewarding and supportive on all sides.
Develop peer, adult and mentor resources for your child and every member of your family.
Prepare for the most intense transition of your parenting career, adolescence, by traversing those realms in advance when not so much is at stake.

What You Will Learn:
What are the elements of a powerful Rite of Competence ritual?
What is the nature of the internal transition your child is going through and what needs acknowledgement?
What might this transition mean for your family?
How to design, plan and conduct a Rite of Competence for your boy or girl.
Defining roles for the participants.
Creating an invitation list and how to choose people for key roles.
Making the experience meaningful and rewarding for every participant.
How to prepare your child.
How to prepare yourself and your family,
How to develop richer extended family relationships.
What to expect next and how to continue to hold the thread of conscious, regenerative parenting.

Program Cost

Here’s how it will work:

Group Elements:
5 group conference calls; 1.5-2 hours each; 1 call per month for 5 months
Access to Group Discussion Forum and coaching comments from Mark
Audio and written resources

Individual Elements:
2 individual family mentoring calls with Mark, 1 hour each
Customized coaching for your families Rites of Competence
Collaborative homework assignments with other participants


Calls will take place in the evenings, around 7pm EST.  We’ll check in on the first call to determine which week and night of the week will work best for the group (i.e. 3rd Wednesday; 1st Monday.)

The first call will be Tuesday night, January 19th at 7pm EST.

To register for the Rite of Competence Program contact:

(802) 254-5800

For general questions about the program, about the rites of passage or for help in deciding if this is right for you or your boy or girl, contact:

Mark Morey


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About Mark Morey

Mark Morey is a creative artist, visionary educator, cultural engineer, and consultant who designs regenerative holistic communities with timeless native principles. He has founded or co-founded three transformational organizations in the last 12 years: Deep Wilds, Vermont Wilderness School, and the Institute for Natural Learning, sparking a nature and community awareness movement in the Northeast impacting thousands of adults and children today.

Mark has facilitated wilderness survival and spiritual passages for teens and adults since 1997, including over 35 week-long Art of Mentoring passages for adults, 12 years of Co-ed wilderness challenge summer camp for pre-teens and teens and 6 years of Sacred Fire rites of passage for boys. Mark feels inspired by the hero’s journey model, the oral history of his ancestors and of native people around the world. His passion for environmental healing and consciousness has gained Mark Morey wide recognition as a leader in earth-centered learning.