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athways is an award winning national
harm prevention charity whose aim
it is to provide a contemporary Rite
of Passage for teenage boys and girls.
The Pathway to Manhood program has been
running in Western Australia for 10 years, in
the form of a five day camp for boys aged 13-
15 and their fathers or a male mentor. The
difference this experience makes in the lives
of the boys, their fathers and the entire family
The idea for the Pathways to Manhood
program originated during an Australian
and New Zealand Men’s Gathering, some 15
years ago. That group felt many of the issues
they struggled with could be traced back to
their own early teenage years. They wanted
to provide something for the young men of
today, not just for those clearly struggling but
for all teenage boys.
They researched how indigenous cultures
dealt with this transition and realised the
importance of marking this time in some
meaningful and public way. All indigenous
cultures knew that their community
depended on boys making the shift from
boys to men. Different cultures did this in
varying ways but several components were
common in all cultures. Pathways has created
a contemporary Rites of Passage using those
components to provide a safe and meaningful
way to mark the journey from boyhood to
Independent market research conducted
in 2007 confirmed that boys who have
participated in Pathways have more confident
communication and social skills, stronger,
more supportive father relationships,
increased respect for women, more
motivation to set goals and finish school
and more motivation to give back to the
Since 2009 Pathways has also been
offering Pathway into Womanhood programs
to support girls from 13-15 years in their
transition to young womanhood. This journey
helps to strengthen the mother/daughter
relationship, peer relationships, and family
dynamics. The girls gain more self confidence
and self worth and greater body awareness.
The feedback from these camps has been very
More information at
Next camp: Pathway into Womanhood
August 23-27, 2011
“I hear them before I see them. They are singing, united in a deep, masculine voice,
returning, feeling very full. I search for my beautiful young man as he emerges from the
trees, standing very tall.
Our community of family and friends form a circle of welcome. The young men move
around the circle, greeting each person with a look, a smile, perhaps a word. Their eyes tell
a story of the depth of the journey they have experienced.
As my son completes the circle he walks to where I am standing with the other mothers,
a circle within a circle. He stands directly in front of me, handing me a flower. He looks at
me, in a new way. We feel the change strongly and are both deeply moved by it.
My son had completed his rite of passage, his transition from boyhood to young
manhood. It is clear to me that something profound has happened. I do not know what
exactly, and probably never will, but I understood that this is as it should be. He is moving
more fully into the world of men and I cannot go with him. For me, his mother, this moment
was tinged with both sadness and a deep pride in him. ”
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