Project Description

Waystones Middle School Program


Ages: Middle school (grades 6-8) in fall of 2016
Limited to 12 boys and 12 girls
Cost: $725


The program includes weekly afterschool gatherings, two overnights, and two service days. 


Registration forms:   

Health form:     

Safety release:     

About the Waystone Program

In Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin describes the arc of person’s life using the symbolism of the cardinal and subcardinal directions (this approach to understanding the development of a person’s inner landscape has been described by many other people and cultures).

An individual’s journey begins at birth, in the East, just as the sun is rising, a time of joy and inspiration. We are inspired by new life, as we are each year rejuvenated by the explosion of springtime as seeds germinate and buds burst. Each morning, as the sun crests the mountains, licking the dew from open meadows, the birds sing in the dawn chorus.

As the sun rises to its zenith, the day is hottest, the birds stop singing, mammals retreat to their dens, burrows, and forms for shade. Humans, however, are hard at work, perspiring as they cultivate gardens, apprentice in a trade, and codify their identity in relation to others. Meanwhile, the listless summer rolls on, plants flower, leaves provide energy for plants to forge roots and grow towards the sky.

The sun dips into the horizon in the West. The day is ending, and in dusk a mystery settles over the land. A blanket of reds, yellows, purples, and oranges blanket the forest as plants return nutrients down into the earth. All the hardwork of the summer pays off in the fall harvest. The harvest is celebrated with gratitude, singing, storytelling, and sharing. The apprentice becomes the teacher.

The quiet of the snowy woods under a full moon draws us inside to the hearth. Life outside is as quiet as it is inside. It is winter, a time for reflection, to look back upon the journey of the year, of a life, to synthesize this into the wisdom of an elder. Our reflections illuminate a mastery, a wellspring of wisdom that goes far beyond the skill of our trade.

Each direction is marked by a transitional stage (Joseph Campbell calls this ‘initiation’; Arnold van Gennep – who coined the phrase rite of passage – calls it ‘liminal’). Our middle school program focuses in on the experience of the South and facilitating the transition into the journey of the west.

This program emphasizes skill building, apprenticeship learning, and expanding knowledge of the world to help connect kids (becoming adolescents) to their communities and to themselves. The three main pillars of our program are:

  1. connecting kids to their anchors and supports (peoples, places, things)
  2. finding and developing their skills and gifts
  3. forging pathways to sharing these skills and gifts with others