Learn to Conduct The Rite of Competence: A Rite of Passage for Middle ChildhoodScreen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.46.49 PM

The Rite of Competence Program is a 5-month distance-learning training program created and led by Mark Morey for parents or caregivers of a boy or girl who is roughly 7 – 9 years old. The exact age of the child is less important than his or her readiness for transition. This is the point when your child is grappling with having one foot in early childhood and one foot in late childhood.

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.

In 2014 we had 8 families participate.  They were located in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

Each family is coached through storytelling, timeless principles, and peer mentoring to design a unique and powerful ceremony both modern in feel and ancient in blueprint.

Here are a few examples:


The morning was rainy, but as the guests began to arrive, the sun came out. Maise was very excited. She was donning a skirt she had made for the occasion…more.


Greetings everyone,

Last year my family attended Art of Mentoring and it was a very transformative experience.  One of the most touching moments was the ceremony that was held to send off the teens on their 3 day trip to the ocean and back.  There was something extremely…more.


I wanted to share the story of Jasper’s ceremony last weekend with those of you who couldn’t make it.

It was a really fun day.  Jasper greeted everyone by putting animal cards on their back for a guessing game.  We gathered for a thanksgiving circle.  Then the crew of “auntees and uncles” all worked together to bow drill a coal for Jasper.  We sang him off with a song. . .more.

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 – nine 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 for 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 the 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 the community of others by helping and giving back. And, crucially, it is about how our children learn to create community—webs of resilient relationships—wherever 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 and is 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 with 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, as in, for example, washing dishes, prepping food, or aiding other 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 with 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 acknowledgment?
  • 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.


Childhood Rite of Competence starts up again, March 2016!

Elements of the program include:
  • 4  group conference calls with Mark Morey, 1.5 hours each, on Monday or Wednesday evenings, roughly: Mar. 14, Mar. 28, Apr. 11 , Apr. 25.
  • 1 follow-up group conference call with Mark in June, roughly June 6th.
  • 1 focused family mentoring call: two families dialoguing with Mark and one another.
    • Customized coaching for your family’s Rite of Competence.
  • Audio recordings will be sent after each call for review.

To register, please contact us at ifnladmin@gmail.com or 802-254-5800.

Cost: $495

Financing options:

  • $200 deposit + two payments of $150 each, due by April.
  • Credit-card (paypal) plan: Five monthly installments of $105 each.



Training Mentors to Offer Rite of Competence in their Communities!

 In the past, Mark has only offered Rite of Competence training directly to families. Each year he is asked if he might extend this training to empower community leaders to guide their families through the process. This year, Mark is opening up a new section to do just that!
How It Works

Participants in the Facilitator Training will complete the entire Childhood Rite of Competence program, working with their own child or with a child from their community. In conjunction with this standard training, the advanced course will meet alternately to discuss and study the mentoring process. Upon completion of this program, participants will be eligible to enter into an exclusive licensing agreement for offering Childhood Rite of Competence in their region.

Enrollment in the Childhood Rite of Competence Facilitator Training is by application. To apply, complete the appropriate section of the registration form. The application deadline is March 4th 2016. We will contact you to set up a time for an interview.

Elements of the program include:
  • All 4 monthly Childhood Rite of Competence family mentoring conference calls.
  • Additional training sessions.
  • 2 follow-up group conference calls with Mark in June.
  • 1 focused family mentoring call: two families dialoguing with Mark and one another.
  • Customized coaching for your Childhood Rite of Competence.
  • Audio resources.

Cost: $695


 More Info

For general questions about either program, about the rites of passage, or for help deciding what right for you or your child, contact:

Mark Morey, mark@secure189.servconfig.com, (802) 254-5800

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 19 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 1994, including over 60 week-long Art of Mentoring passages for adults, 20 years of co-ed wilderness challenge summer camps for pre-teens and teens, and 10 years of Sacred Fire rites of passage for boys. Mark feels inspired by the hero’s journey model and by 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, leadership training, and community building.