From Vision Quest to Wilderness Quest


It’s time to rename our core program to Wilderness Quest.  The term Vision Quest was in use within our organization for over 40 years.  When we began using it in the mid-1970’s, it seemed like a good generic term for the rite of passage ceremony that we had begun offering to the public.  It was inspired by ceremonies held on this continent for centuries, incorporating aspects such as time alone, fasting, and deep contact with nature.  While we had contact with Native American teachers who offered us their support and advice on how to go about our new work, we did not claim to be Native Americans ourselves, nor did we ever describe our work as representing Native American ceremony or practice.  For many years, we had a disclaimer on our website about the term Vision Quest, making this clear.

More recently, the term Vision Quest, a European-based anthropological term, referring to a large group of practices, has come to be associated more with Native Americans and ceremonies exclusive to them.  And as such, using this term inevitably results in a form of cultural misappropriation, giving offense to those whose cultures are truly at risk, trivializing their struggles to maintain their traditions, and disregarding their cultural understanding of this term.  For these reasons, we have decided that it’s time to abandon the term Vision Quest and rename our core program.

What to call it?  There were a few choices available already.  Some organizations have begun using the term Vision Fast to describe these programs.  Our old mentors and teachers, co-founders of Rites of Passage, chose the name Vision Fast when they recognized the need for such a name change.  After giving this considerable thought, in the end the term Vision Fast did not feel like the right fit for our work.  Instead, we’ve chosen to call our key program a Wilderness Quest, with the emphasis on wilderness, the common ground for all our nature-based programs, and the aspect of a quest, which has deep roots in many cultures, representing the hero/ine’s journey to meet inner and outer challenges and return with gifts for the whole community.  Our programs are rooted in this mythology.  We offer them so that people can seek their own answers, their own path through the challenges of living a life of meaning and purpose in our contemporary world.

For more information, please read: The Wilderness Quest