Rites of Passage

A Rite of Passage is a intentionally designed experience that supports people to transition through pivotal or difficult times in their life and tends to their relationship with Self, community, culture, and more. 

True Nature: Youth Rites of Passage 

Our programmes are specifically designed to support young people aged 13-18 in the journey from childhood to young adulthood in a supported, mentored way. We work closely with parents & guardians to support them to support their young person in this transformative experience. 

It inspired me to stop thinking about myself as much, everyone was in it together and it didn’t matter who you were, everyone celebrated honesty and growth.

– Participant, True Nature 2019

It has helped to open a different form of dialogue with our teen that wasn’t there before. It has given us the opportunity to explore different themes, feelings and ideas

Parent, 2019 True Nature


Do you remember the challenges in your life as a teen? The awkward years between 13 and 18, when you were trying to make sense of the adult world?

How would it have been for you to have wise, reliable adults other than your parents to talk freely with?

Do you remember, or perhaps you’ve seen with other children, how quickly they turn towards their peers, and become hard to access?

Would it have made a difference if you had a friendship group of peers that accepted each other in vulnerability, saw your gifts and supported your growth?

Imagine if you had learned communication skills, conflict resolution, listening and being heard; knowing your voice has a valid place, knowing you are worthy. Would you have felt more capable if you learned to trust yourself, your friends and your own capacities?

How would you have felt if you had also learned to make a fire, track animals, build structures? Strong? Resilient? Capable?


Young people have a need for a sense of identity, a strong desire to belong and to understand their purpose.

Contemporary culture doesn’t always meet these needs and there are increasing indicators of rising mental health issues, eg Ireland is the 4th highest teen suicide rates in EU, with Irish teenage girls making up the highest rates for suicide in Europe.


Young people will try to meet their needs for belonging, identity and purpose through what can be seen as risky behaviours:

  • Forming cliques/gangs and bullying
  • Drug and alcohol use and misuse
  • Driving fast
  • Risky-sex
  • Screen addictions

A Rite of Passage program protects against these tendencies by meeting their needs with care, safety and authenticity.

True Nature Rites of Passage

Our programme is designed to deliver four main outcomes:

  • Self: Identifying personal beliefs and values, they come to know and take responsibility for their individual life stories and identities. We encourage a sense of agency over the choices in their lives. We support them to participate in the world as open, creative and compassionate beings.

  • Community: They develop interpersonal skills such as conflict navigation, decision-making and healthy communication skills which will enhance authentic and transparent relationships within their families and communities. They build an understanding of inequities, oppression and interdependencies in complex systems. We help them understand privilege, allyship, and how to navigate change.

  • Nature: The learning of practical and ancient skills to grow awareness of our interdependencies with all life and a responsibility toward the earth. Participants will develop an understanding of themselves as part of nature, not apart from it. They grow in confidence and capabilities, physically and mentally.

  • Sacred: Recognising the sacred dimension of human life through self-generated ceremony and ritual to mark important moments along their journey. Participants are encouraged to recognise that they have a unique and personal relationship with that dimension and that they can continue to explore and deepen it. (We are not aligned with any particular religious beliefs).

I don’t think I’ve ever been as open as to the people in the group, I have a lot more awareness for the world around me be that the people or wildlife in it

Participant, True Nature 2019

Upcoming programmes:

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Meet your guides

Lucy O’Hagan is the founder and director of Wild Awake, an organisation which seeks to rekindle cultural and environmental resilience. As part of Wild Awake, Lucy also founded Dublin’s first independent Forest School in 2015, ‘Phoenix Forest School’ which aims to provide meaningful experiences for people of all ages in nature.

Lucy has been working with young people for over ten years and is passionate about supporting them to recognise their innate gifts and true potential through Rites of Passage work. In 2019-20, Lucy co-designed and delivered a 9 month pilot Rites of Passage programme in The Phoenix Park, Dublin. Over the past 2 years, Lucy has been deepening her understanding of Rites of Passage and Vision Fast work by training with organisations such as Youth Passageways, Rites of Passage Journeys and The School of Lost Borders. Lucy’s love for ancestral skills and wisdom helps her to reweave these frameworks into the fabric of the Irish cultural and ecological landscape. 

Lucy is a passionate rewilder, wildlife tracker, ethnobotanist and cave lover. 

Kathryn Mc Cabe is the founding Director of The Change Agency, which offers groups opportunities for cultural regeneration via skills training and developing new understandings of complex systems change. The primary focus is relationship building, understanding self and navigating power structures.

Kathryn has worked with young people internationally for 16 years, developing award-winning programmes in Australia, directing a 6-week residential programme for 100 teens in Canada and piloting Irelands first rewilding Rites of Passage programme with Lucy, for 9 months in 2019-20.

She studied Science and Applied Physics at Maynooth University, and then a radical masters in Australia, Social Ecology. She is a professional facilitator, emergent program designer and leadership development specialist. She was a lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in Education for Sustainability. She was on the organising committee for the first International Democratic Education Conference in Australia in 2006. She is a published author in Social Ecology; Applying Ecological Thinking to Our Lives and Our Work and a contributing author for other titles.

Niamh Geoghegan is a Forest School and Nature Connection practitioner. Niamh has been a creative facilitator for over 20 years, and working primarily in nature since 2015. In 2019 Niamh, founded Humanature, a platform through which alone or in collaboration with others she offers a range of creative nature connection experiences for people of all ages. 

Whether working as an Arts co-ordinator, Creative facilitator or Nature Connection practitioner, Niamh has always been driven by a passion to empower people through reconnecting to themselves, their own creativity and sense of belonging. 

In 2011 Niamh embarked on a four day Wilderness Quest with Pippa Body in Wales. This was where Niamh began a deeper relationship with nature and re-ignited her passion to share nature with others in a way that could support peoples own connection to self, their community and natural environment. Since then Niamh has completed an apprenticeship in Herbalism and is a Yoga and Movement Practitioner. Her artistic form is greatly informed by Body Weather which since 2008, she continues to explore under the tutelage of Frank Van de Ven (Body Weather Amsterdam) . Niamh is playful in her style, and invites participants to tap into their imagination and body and feel their belonging in nature. 

Ciarán Thornton is a wellbeing practitioner and nature guide who grew up in County Wicklow and has a deep passion for connecting people to nature. He works to create a safe container; co-operating with the natural world to aid people’s discovery of their soul’s path, facilitating sessions that weave together varied practices from different traditions. Some of the principles that inform his work are mindfulness, forest bathing, shamanic practice, ecopsychology, deep ecology, indigenous teaching, active philosophy, mythology, Zen Buddhism, and ancient Gaelic culture.

He also leads hiking and cycling tours along Irelands Wild Atlantic Way and has experience working with young people as a Field Studies guide for Geography & Biology. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from NUIG in Geography, Sociology & Political Science, and likes to make up silly songs.


rewild - reawaken - reconnect