Rite of Passage Part 1   Leave a comment

Our family consumes books like a candle consumes oxygen. Books – not textbooks- are the foundation of our homeschool and often, the people we meet through books stay with us. The following are a few stories we have read that have stuck with me and made an impact on how I want my children to make that transition from child to adult.

The first story is The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. Twelve year old, Matt, and his father stake a homestead claim in Maine territory and Matt is left to hold the claim while his father travels back south to bring up the rest of the family. He is expected to be gone six weeks, but is delayed and gone for months.

The next story is actually a child’s reader called Wagon Wheels. It is based on the true story about Ed Muldie and his three boys, ages eleven, eight and three. In 1878, he and his boys traveled from Kentucky to Kansas where they spent the winter in a dugout near the community of Nicodemus. When spring came, Ed Muldie wanted to find a homestead farther west. He thought it would be easier to go alone and send for the boys later. After caring for themselves for over three months at the dugout, the boys received a letter containing directions to where their father had found land for a homestead. The boys walked one hundred and fifty miles to their new homestead.

My final example is the character, Almanzo Wilder, from the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  At age nineteen he had the drive and determination to move to South Dakota with the hopes of starting a homestead. That first winter, he and another teenage boy risked their lives to bring wheat back to the starving town.

I was so inspired by these stories.  What a contrast in the experiences of these young people from the past in comparison to the average American teen today. They had such drive, ability, and a confidence that I admire. Even though the children in the first two stories were not teens, I see their experiences as a type of rite of passage. These experiences helped them build confidence and to begin entering the adult world.

A few years ago I wondered if  it was possible, that my teenage boys could gain such experience in today’s world.  Was there something of significance they could experience that would resemble a rite of passage?  Something safe?  Something legal?

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Posted January 2, 2011 by The Nonconformist Mom in Uncategorized

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