How long will we be away for?

We usually depart on Thursday afternoon and return Sunday afternoon. Exact dates can be found here.

What do I need to bring?

Not much. Once you have committed we will give you a list of equipment you will require.

Are there any age limits?

Generally 14-17 is the ideal age, however we acknowledge that some teens mature earlier or may decide to attend when they are older. Contact us to discuss your situation.

What kind of things will we do on the weekend?

We don’t tell people before hand the specifics of what goes on during our time away for a few reasons. One is that an initiation weekend is best experienced with an air of the unknown about it. Another is that people are used to managing each day, so by not knowing what’s coming the possibility arises to ‘go with’ and trust the process.

Who are the camps for?

The Weekend is not only for fathers and sons but also for men or fathers without sons. It is also not uncommon for a son to come without his father, for various reasons, although we encourage them to be accompanied by a significant male in their life.

Each person attending, regardless of their age, becomes an integrated part of the group and in that way is supported by all the men and boys.

Often fathers come to realise that the event is as much for them as it is for their son.

Where & when are the camps held?

Camps are held in an isolated bush locations. We do not generally hold camps during school holidays, as this is often a time for the whole family to be together.

What happens on a camp?

The program is a fun, safe and always interesting bush camp that is designed to acknowledge and honour the change from boy to young man.

The boys have the opportunity to hear the stories of older men and ask questions in a sharing environment. They are exposed to a series of safe yet demanding ordeals to test and challenge them physically, mentally, emotionally on a personal development level.

Fun processes such as sharing of personal experiences, story telling, adventure and relationship building activities are also part of the program.

It is a guided journey towards a deeper understanding of what it means to live a balanced adult male life in today’s world.

Is this a religious program?

No. This is not a religious camp or ceremony. There is no affiliation or promotion of any religion or dogma.

The core aim is to bring out the best in all people.

We incorporate the knowledge and wisdom of many cultures. We invite participants to honour their own beliefs and actively discourage anybody forcing their own beliefs on another person.

Are women involved in the process?

Women are an integral part of the boy’s life and will continue to be so. As such, women are an important part of inputting into the event we run. Castlemaine Rites of Passage honours and values the role of women in young men’s lives, indeed in all men’s lives. Our female facilitators lead the send-off and return ceremonies as well as running a program for the mothers/partners that is a valued part of the overall program. Women do not attend or participate in any part of the weekend away. This is only for the men and boys participating and men facilitators.

What are the facilities like on camps?

The facilities are basic in the bush locations that we use. They are set up to run our programs in the best environment possible.

What happens if it rains?

Dry areas are utilised with the care and safety of all participants as a priority. All participants should bring effective wet weather gear with them. An equipment list will be sent to every participant before the event.

Do I have to sleep on site?

Yes. One of the core elements of Castlemaine Rites of Passage camps is that it is a group residential experience.

My son’s father can’t or won’t come – who can come on the camp with him?

The best person to take your boy on a camp is his father, but we are aware that this is not always an available option. A grandfather, uncle or other close male family member is ideal, or a male family friend actively involved in your boy’s life. If this is not available, please contact us to discuss how we can assist. We have arranged a suitable male mentor who has accompanied boys on camps in the past.

Will it matter if my son doesn’t know any other boys on the camp?

No. Our camp processes quickly build a sense of community and friendship within the group which break down all barriers. Wonderful life long friendship have developed from these camps.

What commitment is involved in attending a Castlemaine Rites of Passage?

There are several parts that make up the event. A prerequisite to attending the event is to attend an Information Session which are run twice yearly, approximately 2-3 months before the event itself.

Once you have decided to commit to attending, the event commences on the Transition Evening. This usually takes place one evening approximately 10 days prior to the Departure, which mothers and fathers /accompanying males attend without their boy. The evening’s process lays the platform for your boy’s experience, and gives you the preparation required to get the most out of this program. It also provides an important opportunity to meet the other families that you will be going on the camp with.

The Departure is for families, mothers, fathers/accompanying males, support people and the boy going on the camp – this is the day your boy takes his first step on the journey to manhood. It is a day where the women have an opportunity to let go of their son to a community of initiated men and farewell all the other boys and men. The mothers’ participation in the Departure is critical to the success of the program. 

The Return is the final day of the event when young men and accompanying males return back to their community. This is a day of celebration. Families and communities are encouraged to attend, to welcome and honour their returning young men.

A Regathering is also held approximately 2-3 weeks after the event, for young men, accompanying males, mothers and other family members to reunite with friends made during the camp and tell their stories.

Can I arrive late on the Departure Day or leave early on the Return Day?

No. We require a commitment from all participants to honour the program and attend all aspects of the program. All experiences build upon each other. Missing part of the program will reduce the value of the camp for you, and impact on the other participants.

Why is the process so secretive?

We prefer to see the event as sacred rather than secret in order to preserve the mystery and excitement for the younger boys looking forward to ‘their turn’ to attend. The power of our event is in the unfolding of the processes. These are safe, responsible and carefully designed and facilitated to support your boy to become a healthy young man. To gain the maximum benefit we ask you to “Trust the process.” If you feel you need more specific information please contact us to discuss.

I can’t afford this camp but desperately want my teenager to come. What options are available to me?

We have consciously set this program to run on a donation-based system. A non-refundable deposit is required as a gesture of commitment. Each participant and their family are asked to reflect on the value the program has given them and their broader community.

We ask participants to donate proportionately to their financial means. This ensures those less financially able are not disadvantage and those that are more able support others in their community.

Our aim is that money will not be a barrier to attending. If you still have concerns please contact us to discuss.

We have a blended family. What do we do?

Our focus is always that of what is in the best interest for the boy. All significant adults in the boys life should be involved. If you have a sensitive or complex family situation, please contact us to discuss.

What are some of the outcomes of attending a Castlemaine Rites of Passage camp?

Our desire is to enable and encourage:

  • stronger relationships
  • respectful relationships with women, especially mothers
  • increased self esteem
  • improved communication skills
  • decreased harmful behaviour.

Will my teenager be safe?

Yes. The well being of all participants and facilitators is paramount. We have Emergency Management Plans, qualified First Aiders and evacuation procedures in place. All facilitators have current Working With Children Checks.

How do I prepare myself, my teenager and family for this event?

We honour and respect the uniqueness of everyone who steps up to join these events. We acknowledge that everyone will go through their own process to prepare for departure and their return.

Some participants experience will be profound and require some time to fully return to their life. Others will bounce back to their lives renewed. Everyone’s experience will be different.

We recommend that participants and families make space for this event in their year, allowing time before and after the actual event to reflect on the life that has been, is and is to come. This is a special time for the participants, and their family and friends support is essential. You may wish to take time off work after the event to honour this time.

More information on the preparation and transition back will be discussed at the Information Evening and Transition Night.